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Celtics need to be ‘forceful’ – not desperate – to beat the Heat

05.06.11 at 11:42 am ET
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WALTHAM — Whenever teams are put in bad spots – like the one the Celtics find themselves in down two games to the Heat in the Eastern Conference semis – all the cliches seem to come out.

There’s “one game at a time,” “play your game,” “the series hasn’t started until one team wins on the road” and, of course, “the more desperate team” will show up.

But it’s that last one that the Celtics don’t really agree with.

Doc Rivers for one believes the Celtics have to do a better job of imposing their will inside when they get the chance.

“It’s matter of driving with force and playing with force,” Rivers said. “It’s not just the word ‘hustle.’ It’s a lot deeper than that, but we have to do it.”

In his film session Thursday, around motivational chats from John Havlicek and Sam Jones on the 42nd anniversary of their Game 7 win over the Lakers in 1969, Rivers showed film of Tuesday night’s collapse in Game 2.

“We had gone over 50 [film] clips where we just didn’t get there where we should’ve gotten there, offensively or defensively, and I stopped the tape and the score was 80-80,” Rivers explained. “If I hadn’t put a score on and you watched this you would’ve thought we had to be down 30 at that point. The score was still tied. And I said, ‘Having said all that, it still doesn’t mean that Game 3 is easy if you do it right.’ You can’t just hope that because you haven’t played well and you play well, things will work out for you. You have to deal with them now. They have confidence and we gave it to them.”

That confidence gained by Miami really reared its ugly head in the closing moments after the Celtics tied the game.

“We had a chance in the fourth quarter,” Rivers said. “I think we were in the bonus and we never took advantage of it. We have settled a lot. But we have also gotten [to basket] and have gone away from the contact to try and finish the basket instead of going through people. We drove and tried to make some crazy shot instead of going through bodies.

“Nothing big. There’s things we do that we can do. It’d be more of a concern if I was looking this and saying, ‘Ohhhf, there’s things I don’t know if we can fix.’”

Are the Celtics angry with themselves?

“I don’t think we’re angry,” Glen Davis said. “I think we’re anxious to get back to the game, get back to playing and win two in a row at home, and that’s it.”

Added Ray Allen, “I believe just being more on attack. It seemed like they attacked us all day long. Offensively, we have to attack more and take their easy stuff away.”

Allen scored a game-high 26 in Game 1 but was held to seven points in 35 minutes in Game 2. Allen had just seven shots but more alarming was the fact that the Big 3 of Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce had 36 points – combined. Allen said beside the obvious problem of not producing points, Allen said they’re making it too easy on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

“I don’t know if it’s me taking more shots as much as it’s more offensive stuff being run for me that way we get Wade more in defensively guarding me, same thing with LeBron,” Allen said. “I don’t know if we put enough pressure on either one of those guys and offensively, they had their way. We just have to put more bodies on them, defensively, and offensively, we have to make sure we put pressure on them.

“We’re still down two games, and give them credit for doing what they did but now, we have to assert ourselves.”

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