Archive for May, 2012

Irish Coffee: Marquis Daniels to the Celtics’ rescue?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The Celtics ran into this same question last season, and surely will have to answer it next year and the year after that: Who gives Paul Pierce a break defending LeBron James?

James played 44 minutes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Pierce was on the floor for 40 of them. While chasing the NBA MVP around as he took 30 percent of Miami’s 72 field goal attempts and scored 32 of the Heat’s 93 points, the Celtics captain had little left in the tank on the offensive end.

Pierce finished with 12 points on 5-of-18 field goals and failed to get to the free throw line, where he’s made his bones on a bum knee during this playoff run. It was only the third time in his career he didn’t attempt a foul shot in a playoff game, and two of those have come since he sprained the MCL in his left knee.

Jeff Green was supposed to be the guy who could spare Pierce for even a handful of minutes, and he actually did a fairly good job against James in the 2011 playoffs, but that hope ended in heart surgery and a lost season. Then, Mickael Pietrus showed potential as that guy, but he’s had to assume the backup duties to Ray Allen on Dwyane Wade in Avery Bradley‘s absence, and that problem is only becoming more complicated.

That leaves Celtics coach Doc Rivers with Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels as his last two options.

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Game 2: Rondo, Rondo, Rondo

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

MIAMI — Just about everyone would take the following stat line from their point guard: 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. But Rajon Rondo is not just anyone, and for the Celtics to hobble their way out of Miami with a series split, he has to play much better in Game 2.

Rondo had a horrid start to the opener, with all four of his turnovers coming in the first quarter. Then, he turned it on in the next 12 minutes, scoring eight points and handing out four assists while the Celtics tricked the game up with a number of smaller lineups featuring four wing players on the court at the same time. “Fools gold,” Doc Rivers called it.

That’s not sustainable, and the Heat got them out of that early in the second half, when coach Erik Spoelstra put Dwyane Wade on Rondo and kept him 10 feet off the ball. Rondo’s seen that defense before and while giving him room can allow him to pick defenses apart with his passing, it doesn’t work if, A) the defender is as big and talented as Wade, and B) no one on the Celtics can make a shot.

Wade was allowed to roam, which disrupted passing lanes, timing and whatever rhythm is left in the Celtics’ offense. Rivers said after the game that he thought Rondo let his analytical side take over instead of just relying on his speed and instincts.

“You can’€™t read [defenses] and play a speed at the same time,” Rivers said. “We got through it a lot: ‘Rondo, just trust your instincts. Your speed has to be part of it, your instincts will take over, you’€™ll make the right decisions.’ We have to give him more room and guys have to hit shots.”

Asked how many defensive looks they threw at him, Rondo deadpanned, “Fourteen.” But given a day and half to prepare, he should have a better plan of attack.

“You could say that, but teams make adjustments,” he said. “They may guard me the same Game 2, they may not. They may throw some different things at me. At the end of the day, you got to make changes throughout the game. You can’€™t just come into a gameplan and stick to it, because good teams in the conference finals will make adjustments.”

True enough, but Rondo has to be on it from the opening tip if the Celtics are going to have a chance, and Boston has to help him by getting defensive rebounds and getting the ball to him quickly in transition. The Heat have made stopping him their top priority and 16-9-7 isn’t going to cut it. (more…)

National view: Media backs Celtics’ criticism of Game 1 referees

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Entering Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night, the buzz surrounded names like LeBron JamesDwyane WadeKevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. By the end of the game, though, the spotlight turned toward referees Dan Crawford and Ed Malloy.

Crawford and Malloy raised eyebrows with their questionable technical foul calls that went against the Celtics, particularly in the second quarter. By the end of the game, the Celtics were whistled for five technical foul calls while the Heat were not called for any.

ESPN basketball analyst Stephen A. Smith was one who voiced his concerns over the game’€™s officiating, noting that Ray Allen in particular did not do enough to earn a technical foul.

‘€œDon’€™t tell me that [Crawford] would just arbitrarily decide, ‘€˜I’€™m going to give Ray Allen a tech for saying no and turning away,’€™ ‘€ Smith said. ‘€œThat’€™s got to be something that’€™s coming from the league. It makes no sense to me.

‘€œFor an official to give you a technical over something like that, to say it’€™s egregious is a gross understatement. They really, really need to fall back. It is ridiculous.’€

Another one of the technical foul calls Monday night was a team technical foul for delay of game after Garnett tapped the ball behind the baseline following a second-quarter field goal.

Even the Florida media questioned that call, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wrote: ‘€œA delay-of-game technical foul on the Celtics in the first half of a playoff game, really?’€

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Irish Coffee: Hating the Heat easier than beating Miami

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Listen, I’m a Bostonian. I learned the game of basketball watching Larry Bird and listening to my father’s stories of Red Auerbach‘s Celtics of old. Cleaning out some old stuff from my parents house over the weekend, I found a Reggie Lewis collage from 20 years ago. Do I see the NBA through green-colored glasses at times? Probably.

Then again, I’m one of the guys who a couple months ago had the Celtics as a seventh seed losing in the first round, so I like to think I can take a step back and look at games and series and seasons rationally.

Not when it comes to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade & Co. Plain and simple: I can’t stand the Heat. Rooting for Miami is like pulling for South Bend Central against Hickory at the end of Hoosiers.

It starts with James, and not just because of the ridiculous Decision, declaring himself a champion — not once, not twice — before building one as a team, although that’s part of it. That was one epic failure of a public relations move made by a team of people he pays to make those kinds of judgment calls for him.

It’s that he’s the best basketball player in the world, yet completely unlikable. As a friend of mine said, he’s the A-Rod of basketball. You wouldn’t even want to have a beer with him, much less want your kid aspiring to be him.

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Rajon Rondo: ‘They have to hit the deck, too’

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

MIAMI — Late in the fourth quarter of the Celtics‘ Game 1 loss to Miami, Kevin Garnett delivered a foul on LeBron James and then shared some of his famous internal monologue with James, who laughed back at him.

Asked later if he thought James and the Heat were “showboating,” Garnett responded, “A little bit. Little bit. It’s all good. They’re home, they’re comfortable. And when you’re comfortable, you do things like that. We’ve got to make sure we take them out of their comfort zone and fight a little harder.”

The comfort zone was something the Celtics talked about after the game in regards to James and Dwyane Wade, who combined to shoot 60 percent and score 54 points. Coach Doc Rivers said his team allowed them to play “in extreme comfort,” tough words for a team that lives on its defensive pressure.

Rajon Rondo said the C’s needed to “shrink the floor,” which is one of their main defensive principles. Someone asked if that meant being more physical and Rondo replied, “I mean, nothing dirty, but you know, they have to hit the deck, too.”

Two problems here. One, they can’t hit what they can’t catch, and two, who’s going to do it? This is one of the most mentally tough Celtics teams of recent years, but they don’t have an enforcer. It’s not their game. The issue for the Celtics isn’t hitting Miami, it’s stopping the Heat before they get there.

Regardless, expect this to be a huge thing for the next day and a half until Game 2 tips on Wednesday.

Ray Allen searching for ways to fix free throw woes

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

MIAMI — Ray Allen doesn’t miss free throws, and when he does he usually finds the flaw quickly and corrects it. But after missing four more against Miami in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, he’s now shooting 60 percent at the line this postseason.

“It’€™s hard to say,” Allen said. “I know I don’€™t have good timing right now. I know the shot feels fine. If it’€™s short I know I do have less lift on it. It’€™s just timing. It’€™s just rhythm. It’€™s just getting shots up. Trying to understand what I have, what my lift is. I just take it day by day and try to figure what I’€™m dealing with.”

Allen was the first player out of the locker room at halftime, and he went straight to the free throw line, where he got up more shots. That’s his answer to everything — more work — but the bone spurs on his ankle clearly have affected his shooting from all areas of the court. He made only one of his seven field goal attempts, and since going 7-for-14 in Game 2 against Philadelphia, he is 13-for-43 overall and just 6-for-25 from 3-point range.

“He got a bunch of wide-open shots tonight,” Doc Rivers said. “With him it’€™s just balance.”

Allen’s shot appeared to be off line most of the time. Usually he misses by a matter of degrees. Lately it’s been off by several inches.

“I believe you guys know what I’€™m dealing with,” Allen said. “There’€™s nothing really to talk about. It’€™s like a battle within myself that I have to try and win. It’€™s a daily situation that I have to deal with, and this is the time that I have to be out here and do what I can to try and help this team win. When the season’€™s over with I have to deal with whatever I have to deal with personally. You always talk, if it was the playoffs would you play? It’€™s the playoffs.”

Doc Rivers calls his technical ‘worst I’ve ever had’

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his displeasure with his technical foul very clear following a Game 1 loss to the Heat at American Airlines Arena in South Florida. Rivers was whistled for a technical foul by referee Ed Malloy with 3:13 left in the second quarter when he uttered the words, “Come on, Ed.”

“I know mine wasn’t [deserved],” Rivers said. “I don’t know how long I’ve been in the league, but that has to rank as the worst I’ve ever had. I would have liked to have earned it.”

Malloy called a technical foul on Rivers and then called one on Rajon Rondo midway through the third after Rondo and Shane Battier became entangled after a Brandon Bass basket. Rondo appeared to push Battier away, trying to get loose. Earlier in the game, referee Danny Crawford called a tech on Ray Allen after Allen was demonstrative after a call on him. Crawford then whistled Kevin Garnett for a delay of game technical for tapping the ball out of bounds after a Celtics basket.

“We should never get them, I told our guys,” Rivers said, before adding, “Everybody has to keep their composure, not just just the players and coaches.”