|Doc Rivers: ‘I’ve got to do a better job of getting Kevin involved’||05.02.11 at 9:31 pm ET|
Doc Rivers wasn’t exactly jubilant after watching the film of Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat.
He talked before Monday’s practice about the importance of staying patient on offense — “very eager offensively and that hurt us ‘¦ we were pretty much a one-option team and very rarely worked the sets” — and the importance of keeping composure, something Paul Pierce failed to do in the fourth quarter.
Rivers stressed the need to do a better job on James Jones — “The fact that he took seven 3-pointers without taking a dribble, when you think about it, that’s poor defense” — and Dwyane Wade.
In short, it wasn’t quite a sneak peak of “The Hangover: Part II” in the old film room.
And when it came to analyzing his own effort after viewing the 99-90 loss again, Rivers pointed to one decision as perhaps his biggest error.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting Kevin [Garnett] involved,” Rivers said. “Kevin is one of our featured scorers and I didn’t think we did a good job with him at all.”
Indeed Garnett was an absolute non-factor on offense in Game 1, scoring just six points on 3-of-9 shooting. The Celtics made a concerted effort to get Garnett going early, posting him up on Chris Bosh on their first two possessions, but then went away from a matchup that the team looked at as a advantage heading into the series.
“We got Bosh on an early foul, and then we went seven straight plays before we decided to look back to that spot,” said Rivers. “That’s not like us to do that. That was a mistake.”
Garnett had plenty of success in four games vs. the Heat this season, averaging 16.5 points on 54 percent shooting. And coming off of a Game 4 win over the Knicks that saw Garnett score 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, it seemed a fairly obvious bet that the power forward would be heavily involved in the offense.
And as much as Rivers wanted to take the blame for Garnett’s lack of productivity, there is no question that the 14-time All-Star can be too unselfish at times. The Celtics want Garnett on the attack against Bosh, and that wasn’t the nearly the case in Game 1.
“I think we’ve just got to try to tell him to be aggressive when he gets the ball in the post,” said Rajon Rondo. “He is an unselfish guy, but we want him to be aggressive and take advantage of the matchup.”
|Paul Pierce: ‘Definitely worried’ about possible suspension||05.02.11 at 2:07 pm ET|
UPDATE: Pierce will not be suspended or face further disciplinary action, according to league official.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Paul Pierce – who declined to speak to reporters following Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat — met with the media before the Celtics‘ practice Tuesday on the campus of the University of Miami. Pierce was ejected on Sunday after picking up his second technical foul, which was assessed after he exchanged words with Dwyane Wade following an attempt by Wade to run through a screen set by Pierce.
But it was the first technical called on Pierce that has raised the idea that action from the NBA might be administered. Pierce appeared to attempt a head-butt on James Jones after the Miami swingman aggressively fouled Pierce. Pierce told the media that he expected to hear from the NBA sometime on Monday, but didn’t feel his actions warranted further action. He did, however, admit that there is always worry whenever the league is investigating the possibility of discipline.
“It’s always a concern when things happen,” Pierce said. “Right now it’s out of my control, they are going to view it the how they view it and come to a decision. I’m definitely worried because if it’s a situation where it hurts my team, then it was very selfish. It was selfish of me last night but it’ll hurt even more if the league cam with the decision to suspend me, if that’s what they thought they saw.”
Pierce — who said he was “surprised at getting kicked out” — agreed with Doc Rivers, who in his postgame press conference Sunday suggested that both Jones and Wade should have received flagrant fouls.
“I probably overreacted,” Pierce said. “Thought I was fouled excessively on both play. I thought it should have been a flagrant on both plays. But it’s up to me to keep my composure. The referees called what they saw. I need to do a better job keeping my composure. That’s it.”
|Dwyane Wade impresses both coaches in Game 1||05.01.11 at 8:11 pm ET|
MIAMI — About 90 minutes before tipoff of Game 1 between the Heat and Celtics on Sunday afternoon, Erik Spoelstra was asked about Dwayne Wade, and specifically his struggles against Boston during the regular season. Wade had averaged 12.8 points on 28.1 percent shooting in the four games.
‘We need Dwyane to be effective, we need him to score,’ said Spoelstra. ‘More so than any other player I’ve ever been around, he can figure defenses out. ‘¦ So now he’s had more time to see how Boston has played him. The first two games, not an excuse, you have to give Boston credit for defense, but he was just coming back. He’ll be able to figure it out.”
Spoelstra proved to be remarkably prescient with his pre-game thoughts, as Wade was terrific in the win, pouring in a game-high 38 points on 14-of-21 shooting.
“Dwayne is a special player, he really is,” Spoelstra said after the game. “I’ve said this so many times, he just figures it out. He is very diligent. He has had a couple of days now to see how the Celtics would defend him. He has proven so many times during the playoffs that when the defense is at it’s best, he figures it out and finds a way to crack the code.”
Doc Rivers wasn’t thrilled about Wade’s offensive outburst, but was able to give him credit and even managed to sneak in a joke when talking about his fellow Marquette alumnus.
“It’s tough,” Rivers said when asked about defending Wade. “I thought a lot of the shots were contested and tough shots. When he makes them, he makes them. That’s why he’s the second greatest player to ever come out of Marquette.”
|Fast Break: Heat take early control of series with Game 1 win||05.01.11 at 6:18 pm ET|
MIAMI — The Celtics were defeated by the Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series on Sunday, losing by a 99-90 final to fall behind 1-0 in the best-of-seven showdown.
Dwyane Wade was the story for the Heat, finishing with a game-best 38 points. James Jones came off the bench to score 25 points, including 14 (with four 3-pointers) in a second quarter that saw the Heat extend a six-point (20-14) lead to a 15-point halftime edge (51-36).
Ray Allen had 25 points to pace the Celtics, who will try and even the series on Tuesday night.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Paul Pierce ejected: I have, of course, zero problem with the first technical foul. Clearly Pierce was in the wrong with the almost but not quite headbutt on James Jones (and Pierce has to know better than that, he’s been around forever). But — unless I really missed something — there was no reason for Ed Malloy to kick Pierce out of the game for … what, exactly? Setting a moving screen (which was a lousy call) and then saying nothing, it appears? Wow. Malloy cannot work another game in this series, just an atrocious job. But lets not forget that it never happens without Pierce overreacting to the Jones foul.
Wade/Lebron shine: Much was made of Wade’s struggles vs. the Celtics this season (less than 30 percent from the floor, just 12.8 PPG in the four games) before this series began, and probably correctly so. Erik Spoelstra told the media before the game that the Heat “needed” Wade to score to win this series. Wade delivered with a brilliant first half, scoring 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He was able to get to the basket at will against a passive Celtics defense, but also hit several (contested) jumpers. A near-Jordanesque effort from Wade. And if we want to extend that analogy, James was his Scottie Pippen on Sunday, submitting a 22–6-5 line, with a couple of blocked shots and superior defense on Pierce.
Rondo a non-factor (early): Rajon Rondo was closer to the game-changer in the third quarter, but when the Heat opened the game with Mike Bibby guarding Rondo, a matchup that seemed to beg for a 14-12-16 kind of game for the point guard. But Rondo was unable to take advantage, missing a couple of easy shots in the lane early before falling into foul trouble (three in the first half). It was clear in the regular season opener and remains just as clear after the opener of this series: The Celtics need the Rondo we saw in the postseason last year (and in the New York series) if they are going to beat Miami in a seven-game series.
Lost the bench battle: Not totally fair, Glen Davis hit a couple of jump shots in the second quarter and Delonte West was active — if hugely inconsistent — in his 16 first-half minutes (3-of-7 from the floor with a couple of 3′s, but a missed dunk, a technical foul and was abused when covering Wade). But nothing from Jeff Green (still looks completely lost) and Nenad Krstic. The Heat got the huge lift from Jones and 31 productive minutes from Joel Anthony.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ray Allen still in the zone: After shooting 57.4 percent from the floor in the sweep of New York (including 65.4 on 3-pointers), Allen picked up right where he left off a week ago, hitting his first three shots as the rest of the team failed to produce offensively (at the end of the first quarter Allen was 3-of-5 from the floor, the rest of the team 2-of-15). Allen finished with 25 points, hitting five more 3-pointers (in eight attempts).
Garnett controls Bosh: Not an impressive offensive output from Garnett on Sunday (2-of-8, four points), but defensively he did what the Celtics want to see him do to Chris Bosh: Turn him into the portrait of passivity. Bosh was just a jump shooter in Game 1, and a lousy one, hitting only 3-of-9 from the field. This story’ll get lost in the LeBron/Wade love (and the did he or didn’t he with Pierce), but Bosh will have to make some plays at some point in this series, and he didn’t do a thing on Sunday.
|Heat pregame notes: Mike Miller active, Udonis Haslem out||05.01.11 at 3:10 pm ET|
MIAMI — Not a single Heat player spoke to the media before the game. More accurately, not a single Heat player was in the locker room during the media availability portion of the proceedings.
“We’ve been pushing his workouts a little bit more, but he’s not there yet,” said Spoelstra.
Mike Miller — who missed the last three games of the first-round series win over the 76ers with a left thumb injury — is active today.
“I had every eyeball in the gym watching him all week long, and I told him that,” said Spoelstra of Miller, who played just 41 games in the regular season. “He’s able to play. How much will depend on the game, but he’s been a true professional about it.”
Dwyane Wade was dramatically outplayed by Ray Allen this season in the four Miami-Boston contests, as Wade averaged just 12.8 points on 28.1 percent shooting vs. Allen’s 20.3 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting.
“We need Dwyane to be effective, we need him to score,” said Spoelstra. “More so than any other player I’ve ever been around, he can figure defenses out. … So now he’s had more time to see how Boston has played him. The first two games, not an excuse, you have to give Boston credit for defense, but he was just coming back. He’ll be able to figure it out and strike the balance of being aggressive at some points for us, but also showing the poise that he showed last game.”
|A couple of pre-game notes||05.01.11 at 1:43 pm ET|
MIAMI — Hours before Game 1 of the most anticipated Eastern Conference semifinal in history (we are contractually obligated to write that), there is a huge billboard in front of AmericanAirlines Arena alternately flashing “White Hot” — the theme for Miami’s postseason — and “Tickets Available.” Not exactly a sports hotbed. And StubHub has tickets (good ones) for less than $50, if you happen to be kicking around South Beach and are looking for something to do.
Locker rooms open in a half-hour, so we should have some Shaq news soon …
|Danny Ainge: Shaquille O’Neal ‘is going to play Sunday or Tuesday’||03.31.11 at 5:16 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show for his weekly interview on Thursday afternoon. Ainge was first asked about the status of Shaquille O’Neal. Doc Rivers indicated earlier on Thursday that O’Neal’s achilles injury could be a problem in the postseason.
“I was just with Shaq, we were just working out down in Waltham,” said Ainge. “Shaq is either going to play Sunday or Tuesday. ‘¦ I think that Doc probably — “bleed into the playoffs” — I think is something different than he’s not going to play until the playoffs. But it looks like he’s ready to go Sunday or Tuesday.”
Jermaine O’Neal – sidelined since January 12 after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee — is scheduled to make his return to the lineup Thursday vs. the Spurs. Ainge feels both O’Neal centers must be playing key minutes for the Celtics to make a run in the postseason.
“First of all, there’s a couple of things,” Ainge said. “With Shaq on the court this year, in the games he started for us, our offense and our defense has been better than it’s been for four years. That tells you how important Shaq is, how important his presence is alone. Second of all, Jermaine has been — in limited minutes — he has been the best defensive center on our team this entire season. So that tells you a little bit about what they’ve been able to do in Jermaine’s limited time and Shaq has played some significant minutes. That tells you all right there.”
The Celtics have struggled mightily as of late, losing seven of its last 12 games. Ainge dismissed the notion that the slump is a result of the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma State.
“There’s been some discussion, I’ve been asked a lot about the emotional element of the team. We won five in a row after the trade. There was no emotional element, the team was playing great. ‘¦ I think our big four have all had a drop-off in the 12-game stretch. I don’t know [why], it just happens. Rondo and KG have had the biggest significant drop, and Paul and Ray have stayed at a fairly high level but not as high as they did in the first 50 games. The only player playing better since the trade have been Kristic and Jeff Green.
“Our defense, from the time of the trade to the time before the trade, has not waned at all,” continued Ainge. “Our defense numbers are almost identical. Our offense has gone from being the best field-goal percentage team in the league — in a decade in the first 45 games of the year — to being 20th in the league this year. To me, it’s still KG hanse;t been talking as many shots. KG is not demanding the ball. And I know he’s going to do that, I know he’s going to do that more.”