Irish Coffee: 10 things we learned from Celtics-Heat
|04.25.12 at 2:44 pm ET|
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly. The end of the NBA’s lockout-shortened season is upon us, forcing TNT to broadcast marquee matchups like Ryan Hollins vs. Dexter Pittman and Sasha Pavlovic vs. Mike Miller rather than Kevin Garnett vs. Chris Bosh and Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James. But that doesn’t mean there was nothing to learn from Tuesday night’s game between the Celtics and Heat at the Garden. Here are 10 things.
10. Thanks to Pavlovic’s heroics, the Celtics still have a shot at home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Two things must happen Thursday: 1) Celtics defeat the Bucks, and 2) Hawks lose to the Mavericks.
“Our seeding is important as well,” said Celtics reserve guard Keyon Dooling, who scored seven points in the win over the Heat. “So, if we have to get that win, we’re coming in here trying to tear their head off.”
The hunch within the C’s organization is that if Atlanta hosts Game 1, it’ll be played on Saturday night; however, if it’s in Boston, the series will likely start Sunday. Of course, all that assumes the Bruins beat the Capitals in Game 7 and host Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday.
9. After their loss, while casually dressed Heat stars Dwayne Wade and James poked fun at second-year center Dexter Pittman‘s feet and socks, teammate Chris Bosh sat in the corner of the locker room, donning a suit and reading Malcolm Gladwell‘s “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.” A different bird, I guess.
8. Heat swingman Shane Battier‘s take on a game that featured 39 turnovers: “In my 11 years, that’s the worst game I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve already taken a shower. You guys should all take a shower to get the stink of this game off you. It’s not fun for anybody … but, hey, it’s the NBA, you’ve got to take the good with the bad.”
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to lockout basketball. It’s FAN-tastic!
7. The Celtics honored former player Chris Herren at halftime as part of their “Heroes Among Us” initiative. The Fall River native’s drug addiction destroyed his NBA career a decade ago, but he’s remained sober the past four years and recently founded “Project Purple” to fight drug abuse. His story touched Wade, who wore purple on his uniform to honor the foundation and met with Herren’s family after the game.
“I feel like I know you,” Wade told Herren’s wife, who was featured prominently standing by Herren’s side through thick and thin on the ESPN Films documentary “Unguarded.” After all, the two share a common bond, as Wade has watched his own mother battle the same demons of addiction.
6. Two simple equations. First, Sean Williams > Ryan Hollins. Williams had five points, four rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists in 20 minutes, while Hollins finished with three rebounds but no rebounds, blocks, steals or assists in 25 minutes. Said Rivers, “They were pressing way too much early on, and I thought as they settled in, one thing I did like about Sean down the stretch: He’s competitive.” I’ll let you do the math.
And secondly, Marquis Daniels vs. Pavlovic = Glen Davis vs. Leon Powe. Rivers compared the healthy practice rivalry between Daniels and Pavlovic to that between Davis and Powe during the 2008 NBA championship run. “Sasha and Marquis may be very similar to the role that Baby and Leon played,” he said. “They push each other, and and that could be good for us.”
5. While most of the Boston media waited in the locker room, Pierce and Garnett slipped out a back door. Pierce turned to those waiting in the hallway and said, “Where all the media at? I’m gonna talk to y’all in about three days.”
While Pierce had originally told Celtics coach Doc Rivers he wanted to play the final two games of the regular season in order to maintain a rhythm heading into the playoffs, he played just 18 minutes on Tuesday and doesn’t sound prepared to play Thursday. Whether or not Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma are in the same boat remains to be seen.
4. How seriously the Celtics injuries are entering the playoffs remains a mystery. Allen (ankle), Pietrus (knee) and Rondo (back) all missed another game in a growing string of DNPs while Stiemsma (feet) and Garnett (hip flexor) also sat out against the Heat. But the C’s aren’t the only team dealing with injuries entering the postseason.
“I think we’ve been one of the better teams in the league since the All-Star break,” said Dooling. “We’re hitting our rhythm at the right time. We’re playing well. Health is always an issue, but not just for our team. There are a lot of guys around the league in this condensed season that have been banged up. But we’re ready to go. We’re focused. We’re a championship pedigree team. We’re built for the playoffs, and I’m pretty excited for it.”
3. Like Rivers, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra rested his stars. Regardless, in the locker room afterwards, James and Wade sat with various appendages wrapped in ice despite having not played a second between them. “We wanted to make sure coming into this last week that we were ready to go this weekend,” said Spoelstra. “It’ll be a very quick turnaround. We had legitimate injuries. We weren’t just sitting guys out for rest, but hopefully we’ll be able to get healthy and be ready to go for the weekend.”
2. The National Basketball Players Association executive committee recently asked president Derek Fisher to resign his post following his request to conduct an internal audit of the union’s business practices under executive director Billy Hunter, according to recent reports.
Dooling, who serves as vice president of the players union, refused to comment on the report, other than to express his regret over the issue becoming public. “Disappointing,” he said. “I’m sure that every organization has their disagreements and has different positions somewhat, but the great thing that a lot of organizations do is they keep it in-house. Whether we have problems within our team, there’s something special about keeping it in-house and dealing with things in-house. When it gets out, it leaves a black eye.”
1. While Rondo did not dress against the Heat, he did sit on the bench for a portion of it — an encouraging sign for a guy with a sore back. He also met with a 9-year-old boy named Preston Jackson prior to the game.
His harrowing tale featured on news broadcasts a week ago, Jackson was nearly struck by a stray bullet that came through his bedroom wall in Dorchester. Instead, the bullet passed through the Rondo jersey he was wearing.