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Avery Bradley is a ‘game-time decision’ for Celtics, could Ray Allen be starting? 05.21.12 at 11:54 am ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics reported that all players were on hand and accounted for during Monday morning’s shootaround at the team’s practice facility.

The team’s official website tweeted just before shootaround ended that Avery Bradley (left shoulder) was a “game-time decision” for Monday’s Game 5 against the Sixers at TD Garden.

Bradley did not practice on Sunday after suffering a recurrence of his left shoulder injury during the third quarter of Friday’s loss in Philadelphia.

If Bradley were not available for Game 5, it’s assumed Ray Allen would return to the starting lineup for the first time in the playoffs. Allen hasn’t started since April 4 against the Spurs, coming off the bench in the last four games he played in the regular season and all eight games to date in the playoffs.

Allen has been nearly non-existent in the last two games in Philadelphia, getting off just one shot and scoring three points in the Game 3 rout of the Sixers and making 2-of-6 and scoring five points in 31 minutes on Friday night in the 92-83 loss that evened the series, 2-2, heading into tonight’s Game 5 at TD Garden.

“It’s hard to really think about it from this vantage point,” Allen said of Boston’s second-half meltdown on Friday. “I know that in the third quarter, we just lost our attack. They attacked us. Going into the fourth quarter, we were still in a good place but they continued to attack. We lost momentum and on a ’50-50′ balls, it seemed like they got all of them.”

As WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery pointed out, the Celtics are a plus-18 in the playoffs with Bradley on the floor, second only to the plus-56 of Kevin Garnett during the playoffs.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, NBA
Paul Pierce: Second-half meltdown ‘was really on us’ 05.19.12 at 1:35 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — There will be those who say the Celtics were taken out of their rhythm by the foul trouble that hit the Celtics late in the third quarter of Friday’s 92-83 loss to the Sixers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Not Paul Pierce. He’s been around long enough to know what really caused the Celtics to blow an 18-point third-quarter lead and fall back into a 2-2 tie in the series.

“Once they picked up their intensity, I didn’t think we really played with a sense of urgency in the third or fourth quarter,” Pierce said. “That’s a chance where you have a team on its back, you’re up 15 and you really take their confidence. We didn’t do that. You give a team some life, they went on a run and it just carried over all the way through the third and fourth quarter. That was really on us.”

Pierce wasn’t blaming the offense, which managed just 37 points in the second half.

“I really don’t blame it on offense,” Pierce said. “You look up defensively, you give up 28 and 30 points in the third and fourth quarters. Regardless if we score 15 or 20 points [in a quarter], our defense should be able to win the game. Our defense just didn’t come through. We didn’t rebound the ball, didn’t defend at a high level in the second half and allowed them to get in the game. We gave away too many free throws, easy opportunities, gave up the three, and then turned the ball over.”

“Of course, we have to expect that. Your back’s against the wall, you have to expect that. You’re down on your home court. You have to really expect them to come out and play their best. I said coming into the game, ‘expect their best.’ Obviously, it wasn’t their best first half. They came out in the second half and used the energy of the crowd and we just didn’t respond. Even though it was a tight game down the stretch, we had our opportunities but we gave up two late threes to [Andre Iguodala] to seal it.”

Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley all picked up their fourth fouls late in the third quarter but Pierce didn’t even mention that as a possible reason for falling apart.

“That’s part of the game,” Pierce said. “You have other guys to come in and step it up. You have to really put the knockout punch to a team and we just didn’t do that.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA playoffs, Paul Pierce
Doc Rivers: ‘We don’t think old’ 05.18.12 at 7:01 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Age is an attitude. And with these Celtics it’s a mindset that has served them incredibly well since they started 15-17.

Doc Rivers knew that, bad record or not, he would have to manage off days and game days much differently and more aggressively in terms of rest than he had in the past.

It paid off in a 24-10 finish to the season and a six-game win over the younger Hawks in the first round. They headed into Game 4 Friday with a 2-1 lead over the younger and more athletic Sixers. What’s the key?

“We don’t think old,” Rivers said in the hours leading up to Game 4. “We are what we are. We do know that. The rest is important for us but I think the rest is important for everybody. I don’t think it matters what age you are. Athletes require recovery. We understand that. We like to call it experience.”

Rivers said he’s been more aggressive in giving the team days off, like Thursday, the only off-day between Games 3 and 4.

“It forces you to,” Rivers said. “If we were younger, maybe we would do more. I don’t know if it helps you but it forces you to do things at times you wouldn’t do. We definitely take more days off this year probably than we ever have. I think the schedule and who we are has forced that action. Fortunately, most of the time, we have the common sense to do it.

“When we don’t practice guys still work on their games. We didn’t do anything [Thursday] but Kevin was over here shooting. Especially veterans, more than young guys, understand what they need to do to keep them in rhythm. I think young guys, days off are bad because I don’t think they don’t get that. I don’t think they understand. They think a day off is a day off. They don’t understand what what gets them to the next day or the next game.”

But Rivers doesn’t have that same concern with guys like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

“A lot of veteran guys, if they need a day off, they take it off,” Rivers said. “Ray rarely takes a day off. He’s running somewhere, down the street, riding a bike. Paul was on the treadmill yesterday at the hotel. But they have the experience and that’s an advantage for them.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA playoffs
Ray Allen: Ready to fall on the sword again for Celtics in Game 4 05.18.12 at 12:33 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Ray Allen had to be reminded Friday morning that the last time he had one shot in a game was Jan. 11, 2006, when he was ejected after playing just eight minutes in a win over Keyon Dooling and the Orlando Magic.

That was the infamous night when both were ejected in an on-court tussle.

“I do remember that,” Allen said Friday morning. “Very rare”

On Wednesday, he wasn’t ejected and played 25 minutes. But he again had only one shot, and again his team came out on top as the Celtics beat the Sixers in Game 3. Allen made the only field goal he attempted and finished with three points in Boston’s 107-91 win.

“I don’t have to change anything tonight that happened from last game,” Allen said. “The way they guarded me, they way they guarded us as a team, the final score was the result we were all hoping for. I can do everything this whole day the same way and go into the game and allow the game to go the same way. The object is to win.”

Doc Rivers said Friday that when Allen is on the court, the Celtics know one thing: “someone’s open.” That’s Allen’s approach as well.

“Most definitely,” Allen said. “I just think about what I’ve been able to do in this league over the course of my career, and be able to be regarded as one of the greatest shooters of all times. Now, it’s at the point where it hurts me, being on the floor, because no one wants me to take a shot. I appreciate that respect from opposing players, opposing coaches, fans when I get open always wonder how I got open.

“To be able to use that in the game, in a playoff situation, is a huge weapon. I’m always ready to take the shot and make the shot, but I know being out there on the floor does change the complexity of how a team plays defense. It helps with cutting, helps with pick-and-roll coverages. It helps with a lot of things. It’s like falling on a sword, you have to do what you have to do to help this team win. It can be frustrating because you want to get in and get involved, but the ultimate objective here is for us to win games and move on. That’s for me, what I have to do to help this team win.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA playoffs
Kevin Garnett and Celtics look to impose their will 05.18.12 at 8:49 am ET
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We didn’€™t go to him. It’€™s plain and simple. My thought: we never established the post. I thought the second unit again established the post in the one stretch in the fourth quarter. - Doc Rivers on Kevin Garnett after Game 2 loss to Sixers.

PHILADELPHIA — When Doc Rivers was asked about Kevin Garnett not getting enough shots in the fourth quarter of Game 2, Rivers sent out of his classic subliminal messages to his team.

Impose your will.

Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo all got the message loud and clear and routed the Sixers, 107-91, in Game 3. But to Garnett, who had 27 points and 13 rebounds, the key to success was about more than just wanting it more.

“It’s partially that, exerting your will over a team is big,” Garnett said. “But cutting down on mistakes, sticking to game plan, not making too many changes. Cutting down on mental mistakes is really what makes a series. The team that keeps turnovers down, most aggressive, imposes their will all those things factor. Every time I’ve been in a tough series, those things have been major factors. We just have to continue what we did in [Game 3], not only impose our will, stay defensively sound and like Paul said, take that first punch and be able to return it.”

Pierce and Garnett stood outside their team hotel on Thursday and were again asked if there’s the feeling that this is the final chance for the team to make a championship run.

“I think we realized that from Day 1 when we came in for preseason, training camp,” Pierce said. “I think the last couple of years we’ve been feeling like that. The [motivation] is trying to win another championship, regardless is this is going to be our last time together. KG in the last year of his contract, Ray in the last year of his contract, trade speculation that’s been going on to [Danny Ainge] talking about rebuilding. There’s definitely a renewed sense of urgency.”

“What he said,” Garnett joked when asked to offer additional comment. “The focus is the playoffs. I really haven’t given it much thought, to be honest. But I’m definitely aware of it. You give it some type of thought but at this point right now, it’s the playoffs.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Doug Collins: ‘We have to meet the challenge of’ Rajon Rondo 05.18.12 at 8:01 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — A lot of coaches say they want to make life difficult on Rajon Rondo.

But Doug Collins said Thursday that if his Sixers don’t do a better job of putting up a fight against the superstar point guard in Game 4, his team essentially has no shot.

“We never got Rondo stopped all night long,” Collins said of Rondo. “He took the ball wherever he wanted to take it on the floor. We have to take that challenge. We have to take on the challenge that he’s the guy that going to push on the [fast] break, he’s going to get the ball up the floor, he’s going to make the passes, he’s going to be the guy who’s initiating most of their stuff. We have to take the challenge of doing a better job on him.”

Rondo got to the basket time after time, made 9-of-16 shots and finished with 23 points and 14 assists and help the Celtics rediscover their swagger in Game 3. Even when the Sixers led by five after one quarter, Collins was worried.

“We just weren’t sharp from the start,” he said. “A lot of our defensive coverages, and all the things we do. Even in that first quarter, we were up, 33-28, we missed about six layups, six shots in the paint. We never had a grip on the game, defensively. When we went cold a little bit in the second quarter, I told the guys we had 33 points at the quarter and we had six points in the first five or six minutes of the second quarter. Normally, when your defense has to carry you through those moments, [Wednesday] it didn’t.

“I just think the competitiveness. So much is made of Xs and Os. They made a little bit of change on their screen-roll coverage so we talked about that. They did some things differently on screen-rolls. But it’s not a lot of Xs and Os. It’s toughness, competitiveness. The first two games came down to one possession. We have to do a better job when Kevin Garnett is off the floor. He’s plus-47 when on the floor. We have to do a better job. We can’t let them go to their bench and build a lead and then let him come back at the end of the half fresh and then let them finish the half strong. That’s what’s been happening.”

Indeed, when Garnett re-enters the game, he’s been huge before halftime. The Celtics have been outscoring the Sixers in the final minutes of the second quarter and the opening moments of the third quarter, 44-15, in the first three games.

“He rests after about six minutes, they bring him back, and then they play him and he looks fresh at the end of the half. We’re minus-29 points ending the second quarter and starting the third in all three games.”

But what alarmed Collins from the start Wednesday was the lack of team defense from the jump.

“I never take away from a team playing well offensively,” Collins said in giving the Celtics credit. “I just didn’t think we put up a lot of resistance.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doug Collins, NBA
Rajon Rondo: Celtics didn’t need to lose to know Philly is no ‘pushover team’ 05.15.12 at 12:18 am ET
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Given the fact that the Celtics trailed the Sixers in the Atlantic Division for most of the season before catching them at the end and pulling away to a fifth straight division crown, everyone in Boston knew coming into this series that Philly was not going to be cream cheese or cheesesteak.

It was going to be a war, just like in the 60s and 80s, when the two archrivals battled tooth-and-nail for every loose ball and every point.

Well, two games in, two one-point decisions, one for each team.

‘€œThat’€™s the playoffs,” Rajon Rondo said after the 82-81 decision claimed by the Sixers Monday night in Game 2. “It’€™s up and down. You’€™re not going to win 16 straight games so. Give them Philly a lot of credit. They are not a pushover team. They’re in the second round for a reason. Like I’€™ve said this is a tough series.’€

Tough is one thing. Ugly is another, and more likely how Celtics fans would describe a game that had Boston score 25 points in the first quarter and just 56 the rest of the way. The Celtics started the game shooting 50 percent (11-for-22) in the first quarter. They made just 22 of their final 57, finishing at 42 percent for the game. They had 19 turnovers. Philly had 18.

‘€œWe made some plays but they won,” Rondo said. “We give them credit. Basketball is a game of rhythms’€¦ a game of runs. We made our runs, and then they made their runs.’€

And Rondo never got on one himself. Which is essentially the reason the Sixers won and the Celtics lost. Rondo finished with eight points and 13 assists on 4-of-12 shooting in over 38 minutes of action. The Sixers were more physical Monday, both with Kevin Garnett (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Rondo.

Except for Game 2 against the Hawks, the 2012 playoffs for the Celtics have been about two players and two players only – Garnett and Rondo. The Sixers seemed to find somewhat of a management plan, if not a control button on Monday. And that plan involved two words: Get physical.

From the onset, the Sixers were determined to get a body on Garnett at every turn and get in Rondo’s face. Though Rondo did have six assists in the first quarter, he had just seven the rest of the way.

Rondo was asked if what could have been done to get Garnett more involved.

‘€œNothing really, KG is an unselfish player. He could have taken a lot more shots than he did,’€ Rondo said of Garnett’s 7-of-12 night from the field.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA playoffs
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