|Pierce: Doc is one ‘cool customer’||05.31.10 at 5:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Two of the most-respected coaches in the NBA also happen to have the most rings.
But whether the Celtics win another title or not in the next month, Paul Pierce believes he is playing for one of the best coaches of his generation. Pierce said Monday following practice that Rivers deserves credit for keeping the team focused on the task at hand and never showing panic through the course of a long season filled with many ups and downs.
“He’s definitely taken my career to the next level,” Pierce said. “You have to put him up there with the top-five coaches with Phil, Gregg Popovich.”
It wasn’t always that way as Pierce admitted earlier this season when he said his relationship with the Celtics and Rivers was sometimes like when a couple goes through growing pains early in their relationship.
Sometimes you come close to “breaking up” Pierce said but in the end, you work things out.
Such was the case, even this season, when the team went 27-27 to finish the season, losing at home to teams like Washington, New Jersey and Memphis. When the team was battling to find itself in January and February, Pierce said it was Rivers who kept things loose and easy.
“I think it’s everything to this ballclub,” Pierce said. “You can see at times when you play for coaches when things aren’t going right it just seems like the practices get harder and the yelling becomes louder and Doc is a cool customer.
“He didn’t panic, he didn’t get louder. He just stuck with the game plan. A lot of times, when you go through a stretch we went through like five games out of six, seven-out-of-10, you can tell from a coach’s body language that things are going downhill. You never really saw that with Doc. He came in and said, ‘Alight, we’re going to get back to work the next day.’ He always stayed positive and encouraged us and I think that was big for us throughout the year.”
Jackson has an NBA-record 10 titles as head coach while Gregg Popovich is second among active coaches with four. The Celtics are making their second trip to the NBA Finals in three years with Rivers as the coach and he is trying to join Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and K.C. Jones as Celtics coaches with two titles in three seasons.
|Why Nate Robinson was reason Celtics won||05.29.10 at 1:23 am ET|
When he speaks, everyone who cares about the team listens.
In the moments following Boston’s second Eastern Conference title in three years, he gave credit to one player for helping the Celtics to get over the emotional hump of losing two straight games after having a 3-0 lead against the Magic.
“He really won the game for us,” Pierce told ESPN’s Doris Burke in the midst of a parquet celebration following the 96-84 triumph.
Why did the man who scored a game-high 31 points while grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out five assists give so much credit to the man with the new tatoo on his throat? Because without him, the Celtics might have lost their swagger when Rajon Rondo took a hard first-quarter fall to the floor, courtesy Dwight Howard.
‘It was huge, it was big,” Robinson said after scoring all 13 of his points in a furious second-quarter spurt. “I am just speechless right now. My teammates, we got the job done today.
‘Just do whatever coach asked. He asked me to play as much defense as I could. The best way that I knew how, and the offense is going to come. That’s something that comes naturally, just play the game for what it is and for the love of it. That’s what I went out there and did.’
Robinson, who came to Boston in a much-talked about mid-season trade with the Knicks, didn’t even play in Games 1 and 2 of the series as Rondo was exerting his dominance. Coach Doc Rivers has always told his players to be prepared. Friday’s huge Game 6 stage was Robinson’s chance.
‘It was a great opportunity,” Robinson said. “I thank God, I thank Doc, the fans for giving me so much energy and my teammates for believing. They always told me be ready, be ready you never know. Today was that day.
‘I mean just the opportunity to play. I got my chance today. I just showed that I could play the game of basketball.’
And now Robinson gets his first chance to play on an even bigger stage: the NBA finals.
|Daniels out ‘for a while’||05.28.10 at 8:54 pm ET|
While the Celtics got good news on the availability of Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace for Game 6 against Orlando, the news was much more pessimistic on Marquis Daniels, who is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion minutes after Davis sustained his own in Game 5 against the Magic.
“Marquis is out and probably out for a while,” Rivers said. “If they’re putting a uniform on, they’re good [to play].
“[Daniels] had tingling in his feet, his hands and couldn’t feel either one for a while so that gets dangerous. We don’t know how long. He feels good now. Everything’s back. That’s something you have to be careful with. Eddie [Lacerte] said he’s the one, you just can’t take a chance.”
Brian Scalabrine is dressing for Game 6 and is taking Daniels’ spot on the active roster.
|1st Half Summary: Celtics vs. Magic Game 5||05.26.10 at 9:53 pm ET|
The first half was what the Celtics feared all along coming into this Eastern Conference final series.
Down 3-0, the Magic looked ice cold from long range, couldn’t get Dwight Howard going and couldn’t start their patented fast break start with Howard blocking shots.
All three came to life in scary fashion in the first half as the Magic drilled 9-of-15 from 3-point range while Dwight Howard had five blocks and 10 points. J.J. Redick was huge again off the bench with a team-high 11.
All of it added up to a 57-49 Orlando lead at the break.
That’s exactly what happened in the first half, as the Magic raced out to a 14-point lead thanks to early foul trouble by the Celtics.
And worst of all, Kendrick Perkins was ejected by official Eddie F. Rush on a questionable call. It’s also his 7th of playoffs, which will disqualify him for a Game 6. Perkins picked up a foul on Dwight Howard with 36.1 seconds remaining in the second quarter. He was flabbergasted and ran away from Rush toward mid-court and Rush decided that it was behavior that deemed a second technical of the game, an automatic ejection.
Meanwhile Paul Pierce, with a game-high 16 in the first half, passed the 2,000-mark in career postseason points. The Celtics captain became the 9th player in franchise history to do it.
|Pierce: ‘We can still take care of business’||05.25.10 at 1:18 am ET|
Paul Pierce knew exactly what was at stake Monday night when he dribbled and then lost the ball at the end of regulation.
It was a chance, with the game tied at 86-86, to make one more shot and put away the Magic in four straight games and advance to the NBA Finals. But instead he lost the ball and the Magic were able to stay alive in overtime, outscoring Boston, 10-6 and win 96-92 to force Game 5 Wednesday night in Orlando.
The Magic still trail 3-1 but all of sudden, with two of the next potential three games on Orlando’s home court, the perspective of the series has changed, if only slightly.
“They’re a great team. We’re not going to take them for granted so Game 5 is going to be a tough one on their floor,” Pierce said. “We didn’t want to go back on their floor to play but it is what it is but we’ve got to get another win in their building. That’s the goal.
“We really don’t want to come back here for Game 6. The sense of urgency is going to be there when we get on the road so hopefully, we can take care of business.”
Pierce also took responsibility for the final play of regulation that resulted in no shot for the Celtics and allowed the Magic to survive to overtime.
Pierce had the ball in his hands and was supposed to run a play that called for a pick and roll with Ray Allen but Pierce never got the ball to Allen and Jameer Nelson knocked it away and as time expired.
“We didn’t want to call a time out,” Pierce said the Celtics’ decision to forego a timeout. “It was a pick and roll, me and Ray Allen and I pretty much screwed it up, turned the ball over. That’s all it is, couldn’t get the final shot. Sometimes it happens that way. That’s no excuse and we still had opportunities in overtime and we didn’t take advantage.”
Pierce still finished with a team-high 32 points in over 46 minutes of action.
‘[It was] definitely a tough loss,” Pierce said. “You fight so hard to get back in the game and all the ties. I just think the little things hurt us. I thought we really pressed too much, each of us wanted to do it. We weren’t doing the things that got us the 3-0 lead. We kind of felt we was pressing to get the win. They’re a good team and they’re not going to lay down and we can expect them to so gotta move on to Game 5.
“At the end of the day, even though we struggled to get some momentum offensively it still doesn’t, we still didn’t play any defense down the stretch. We gave them a three, offensive rebounds and sent them to the line there in the 4th quarter and overtime. Those type of things hurt when you’re trying to come back. But we made our bed, we gotta lay in and move on.’
|SVG: Celtics weren’t playing possum||05.24.10 at 10:27 pm ET|
“I think that’s a bunch of crap,” Van Gundy said. “I think they had injuries, period. I don’t think they were holding anything back. Kevin Garnett had a serious knee injury that takes a lot of time to get back to full strength. When we were at the All Star Game, at that point, I didn’t either Garnett or Pierce were at full speed or looked healthy, still. I thought Kevin was still having trouble with mobility in that leg and Paul’s foot was bothering him. Injuries mean a lot.”
Van Gundy saw both Garnett and Paul Pierce during the All Star break in Arlington, Texas. He said he knew at the time, the Celtics weren’t at full strength. The Celtics finished fourth in the East with a 50-32 record, behind Cleveland, Orlando and Atlanta.
“They weren’t 41-41 were they? The way everybody talked about them they exploded out of the blue after winning 41 games,” Van Gundy added. “Didn’t they win 50 games? Fifty games is a hell of a season, and those guys weren’t healthy. I don’t they were out there saying, ‘Let’s hold it back.’ I think that’s ridiculous and I think it’s insulting to them, quite honestly.”
Doc Rivers knows a thing or two about getting shown the door. He was dismissed early in the 2004 season following a 1-10 start in Orlando after earning coach of the year honors in 2000. He has watched as Mike Brown won 60-plus games in back-to-back seasons and led his team to the NBA Finals in the year before.
“I don’t know what you have to do to keep your job,” said a perplexed Rivers.
|1st half summary: Celtics vs. Magic Game 4||05.24.10 at 9:53 pm ET|
The Orlando Magic came to play Monday night in Game 4 after being embarrassed in Game 3 and made a point of showing it early on.
They took a 51-47 lead at halftime over the Celtics, amazingly their first such lead after 24 minutes in the series so far.
Orlando, which shot 61.5 percent in the first quarter, built their largest lead of the game at 10 points, 42-32, with 5:47 left in the second quarter.
The Magic were led by Dwight Howard, with 17 points and six rebounds.
The other thing to keep a close eye on in the second half is the condition of Rajon Rondo, who left with a minute to go with trainer Bryan Doo to treat muscle spasms in his right leg.
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