Archive for May, 2012

Game 7 shootaround: Keyon Dooling returns, Avery Bradley home resting after surgery

Saturday, May 26th, 2012


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WALTHAM — Already without Avery Bradley, the Celtics practiced on Friday without backup guard Keyon Dooling, who was out sick. Dooling returned to the team Saturday morning for its shootaround before Game 7 with the Sixers. The team worked on half-court set as per usual with no conditioning drills. Before the shootaround, the team also watched film.

With Bradley out and Ray Allen nursing two sore ankles, Dooling figures to see more playing time in Saturday night’s decisive game. In another positive sign, Greg Stiemsma took part on Saturday, a day after Doc Rivers said the backup center’s feet were “feeling better.” During Game 6 in Philadelphia, Rivers said that Stiemsma asked out of the game because he was in pain.

“He couldn’t play in the second half the other night,” Doc Rivers said on Friday. “Funny, I put him and he walks up and says, ‘I can’t go.’ I thought he was walking up to go in. But he feels better and that’s good.”

Allen has two sore ankles and Paul Pierce is nursing a sprained MCL in his left knee. Both Allen and Pierce are expected to start in Game 7.

Meanwhile, Bradley is resting after surgery Friday on both shoulders, a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells WEEI.com. He was the only Celtics player not in attendance at the Saturday morning shootaround.

The source confirms that Bradley had surgery on Friday and is expecting a summer-long rehab program that could last up to four months. If all goes as expected, Bradley should be ready for training camp in October.

Bradley initially injured the rotator cuff in his left shoulder but after playing with the injury, he also injured the right shoulder to the point where it needed to be repaired as well. Bradley had the left shoulder pop out in the third quarter of Game 4 against the Sixers and missed Games 5 and 6 before deciding to have surgery on Friday, performed by team doctor Brian McKeon, so that he could be ready for training camp in October.

Ray Allen: Game 7 ‘just another opportunity to go out and be who we are’

Friday, May 25th, 2012


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WALTHAM — Ever since the Celtics lost Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals in Los Angeles, Ray Allen has been asked, in one way or another, about the last game he might play in Celtic green.

Saturday night at TD Garden is another one of those possible scenarios so naturally, he was asked whether he’s given any thought to what could be his final game with the Celtics as part of the “Big Three.”

“Not really, not all,” Allen said before Friday’s practice. “I think I’ve in that situation many times before where that question has been posed to me so many times. We’ve been so fortunate to do what we’ve done here. It seems like we’ve been ruled out so many times before, so many years before. This is just another opportunity to go out and be who we are. We’re not worried about what’s beyond today. We’re more worried about what we have present day.”

Speaking of present day, Paul Pierce was asked point blank Friday whether the team’s tattered physical condition would take away from any joy over winning Game 7 since the rested and healthy Miami Heat wait in the wings Monday in the opener of the Eastern finals. Said another way, are the Celtics anything more than just a sacrificial lamb for the Heat if they prevail over Philadelphia?

“The focus is just one game right now,” Pierce said. “One-game series. Win or go home. You can’t look beyond that.”

But the bigger picture?

“I don’t think you should overlook it,” Pierce insisted. “Obviously, the goal is to win the championship. You have tto stake it step by step. It’s just about one game.”

And the way Allen sees it, that one game against the Sixers is a game of opportunity. (more…)

Paul Pierce on Game 7: ‘I like our chances’

Friday, May 25th, 2012


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WALTHAM — If you go by Friday, the Celtics appeared to be calm, cool, collected and oh yes, confident, on the eve of their sixth Game 7 in the “Big Three” era.

The group of Paul Pierce, Greg Stiemsma and Ray Allen and assistant coach Tyronn Lue held a fun competition before Friday’s practice, as all right-handed shooters shot free throws with their left hands. Interestingly, Allen was the first to bow out, as he moved on to the more mundane effort of practicing shooting before the practice began.

The captain knows what’s at stake Saturday night at 8 p.m. as they take on the Sixers in Game 7 of the Eastern semifinals.

“Of course, we’re at home but they’ve beaten us on our home court,” Pierce said, referring to the 82-81 loss in Game 2. “You still have to go out and play the game but I feel good. A couple of days rest for a veteran team, much needed. I like our chances.

“I think we’ll come out with a great sense of urgency. It’s Game 7, there’s no tomorrow. In order for us to advance, we have to give it our all. We have to give it everything we’ve got. We need everything from everybody, whoever steps on that court to understand that this is it, this could be the season. That’s the way we have to play. We have to play like a desperate team, whether we’re at home or not. The team that wants it the most is going to get it.”

Overall, Pierce is 3-3 in Game 7s in his career. He lost his first in 2005 to the Pacers. Then, he won three straight, starting with wins over the Hawks and Cavaliers in 2008 on the way to his lone NBA title. Pierce led the charge over the Bulls in the first round in seven games in 2009 before falling to the Magic in a seventh game in the next round.

The most painful of all Game 7 losses, however, came the next year as the Celtics had the lead with six minutes left but couldn’t hold on and lost 83-79 to the Lakers in the final game of the 2010 NBA finals. Pierce has thrived in do-or-die games for the most part, including his 43 points in the fifth and deciding game of the 2002 first round series against Philadelphia.

“I like challenges,” Pierce said Friday. “I like being in pressure situations. It’s Game 7. I’ve been there before. I understand what it takes and I’m ready for it.

“It’s got to be a motivated group. What else is there? Game 7, what more could you ask for? If this is not the most important thing to you right now, then there’s no other way to motivate basketball players out here. Nobody wants to end their season right now. We have a great opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference finals on our home court. That’s all the motivation we need.”

Poll: Who wins Celtics-Sixers Game 7?

Friday, May 25th, 2012

What happens in Saturday night's Celtics-Sixers Game 7?

  • Celtics win close game (45%, 53 Votes)
  • Celtics win big (32%, 38 Votes)
  • Sixers win close game (18%, 21 Votes)
  • Sixers win big (5%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 119

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Avery Bradley’s season is over, but his future is bright

Friday, May 25th, 2012

WALTHAM — Avery Bradley came into this season as a question mark. He leaves it as a potential future cornerstone.

Bradley had surgery on Friday for his injured shoulder, which had repeatedly popped out during the playoffs. It’s a huge loss for the Celtics, who have come to rely on his tenacious on-the-ball defense and the jolts of athleticism he provided the offense.

“Avery’€™s a big blow. There’€™s no doubt. If I’€™m the guy on the other team and I don’€™t have to play against Avery Bradley, I would sleep a little better,” Doc Rivers said. “No one wants to play against Avery. Our guys don’€™t want to play against him in practice. He’€™s a pain in the ass defensively. That’€™s what he does, and that’€™s not here anymore.

“We’€™re a great defensive team. What Avery did was allow us to be a great defensive team and put an individual on one guy and say, ‘€˜Go shut him down.’€™ We don’€™t have that anymore. So now we have to go back to being just a great defensive team.”

Bradley’s loss has an effect on everyone on the court, but his absence is most acutely felt by Rajon Rondo. With Bradley in the game, Rondo didn’t have the responsibility of guarding the ball. That hasn’t meant as much for Rondo against the 76ers, who have several guards who can attack off the dribble, but at the same time, losing their best perimeter defender puts the Celtics at a disadvantage.

“It’€™s so unfortunate,” Ray Allen said. “This season has probably been one of my more challenging seasons just from a team perspective just because we lost so many guys. Probably one of the more resilient teams that I’€™ve had because we’€™ve had so many guys step up and play well. My heart goes out to him because I know what he’€™s dealing with, I’€™ve been dealing with it myself.”

Beyond the ramifications for this season, Bradley’s emergence has been an unexpected revelation. As a rookie, he could barely stay on the court. In his second season, he not only established himself as one of the best on-the-ball defensive guards in the league, he also found ways to contribute offensively.

Bradley developed a knack for cutting to the basket and showed the strength and athleticism to finish inside. He also mastered the art of the corner 3-pointer, knocking down 56 percent of his attempts. With Bradley as a starter, the Celtics offense suddenly became dynamic and efficient, scoring over 112 points per 100 possessions.

“His growth this year has been terrific,” Rivers said. “He’€™s become a very valuable piece of this basketball team.”

It remains to be seen if the Celtics can go forward with an undersized backcourt and have it hold up over the course of an 82-game season, but one way or another, Bradley is a vital part of their future, and that’s not something anyone could say with certainty even three months ago.

Doc Rivers explains why losing Avery Bradley really hurts against the Sixers

Friday, May 25th, 2012


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WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced at Friday morning’s practice that Avery Bradley had surgery Friday on his ailing left shoulder and is out for the playoffs.

“Avery Bradley is having surgery today so he’s out for the playoffs,” Rivers said. “That’s that. When a player goes down, that’s disappointing, and especially with what Avery has given us this year. His growth this year has been terrific and it’s been great. He’s become a very valuable piece to our basketball team. His ability to guard the best [opposing] guard at [point or shooting guard] has really taken so much pressure off Rondo, in particular. And not having him means that Rondo now has to go back to that role and run the team, and that’s hard, that’s hard to do, unfortunately and especially against the team we’re playing that has two guards that attack.

“Rondo doesn’t have a lot of breaks. But that’s the way it is. We’ve been a team all year when stuff happens, you deal with it and you just move forward. That’s who we’ve been and that’s who we’re going to have to be [Saturday].”

Then Rivers explained exactly why the Celtics need to fall back on their great defensive principles to get through Game 7 without Bradley, their third straight without their best on-ball defender. The Sixers have a group of athletic guards who attack the basket, and did so at will in Game 6. Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams all took advantage of a weakened Ray Allen in drives to the basket.

“We’re great defensive team,” Rivers said. “What Avery did was he allowed us to be a great defensive team and put an individual on one guy and say, ‘Go shut him down.’ We don’t have that anymore so we have to go back to being just a great defensive team.”

Bradley was diagnosed with a sore rotator cuff during the first round series with the Hawks and attempted to play with pain. But early in the third quarter of Game 4 last Friday in Philadelphia, his shoulder popped out of place. He missed Games 5 and 6 before the decision was made to have surgery on Friday.

Bradley, in his second season out of Texas, started 10 games in the playoffs and 28 in the regular season, taking over the starting job from Ray Allen for the final 13 games of the regular season. He average 7.6 points a game in the regular season and quickly won respect around the league as one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA.

On 25th anniversary, looking back at Larry Bird’s famous steal vs. Pistons

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of not only one of the greatest plays in Boston sports history, but one of the most memorable moments in NBA history.

In Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals at the Boston Garden against the Pistons, Celtics forward Larry Bird added on to his legend, turning an almost sure defeat in a pivotal game into a stunning victory in the matter of seconds.

With the C’s trailing by a point in the closing seconds, Bird drove the lane and had his shot blocked by Dennis Rodman. With the ball heading out of bounds, Celtics guard Jerry Sichting tried to save it, but it was knocked off his body and the Pistons received possession, setting up the theatrics. With five seconds left, Isiah Thomas hurriedly tried to inbound the ball and lobbed a pass to Bill Laimbeer, who was standing on the baseline near the Celtics basket.

What Thomas didn’t see was Bird, who timed the pass perfectly and flew in from his position at the top of the key to steal the ball, a remarkable play that gave the Celtics sudden life with the final seconds winding down.

“Isiah’s pass just hung up there,” Bird recalled in a 2009 ESPN story about the play. “It seemed to take forever to get to Laimbeer. [After stealing the pass], I was thinking about shooting, but the ball was going the other way and so was my momentum.”

Narrowly avoiding falling out of bounds, Bird found Dennis Johnson streaking down the lane and sent him the pass. Johnson grabbed it and without hesitation laid the ball off the backboard and in as the Celtics took an improbable 108-107 lead with one second left.

(more…)