|Doc: ‘It’s a big game for them, too’||03.14.10 at 10:50 am ET|
“I think we’ll come in and play terrific,” Rivers said. “But we just have to play hard. There’s no guarantees. But listen, it’s a big game for them, too. It ain’t just one way. I always laugh when I hear guys say it’s a must win. But what if it’s a must-win for both teams? Someone’s not going to win.”
The Celtics (41-23) are coming off a 19-point win over Indiana on Friday night at home and trail third-place Atlanta by a half-game in the East. Meanwhile the Cavs come in with a 51-15 record, and lead the Lakers by three games for the best mark in the NBA.
LeBron James is playing his second game back from a sprained right ankle.
“It would be great, though,” Rivers said of a win in Cleveland. “I think our team is looking forward to it,” Rivers said. “And I guarantee you they’re looking forward to it. There’s no coincidence that LeBron James rested two games and came back. That’s not a coincidence but that’s fine.”
The Cavs will be without Shaquille O’Neal, likely out for the rest of the regular season following surgery on his right thumb, injured the last time the two teams met when Glen Davis went up to block an O’Neal shot. On Sunday, Davis denied hurting O’Neal intentionally during their Feb. 25 meeting.
‘They’re playing the same guys, really. They haven’t changed their offense or anything. They’re quicker, faster, more athletic.”
The Celtics are visiting Cleveland for the first time since Oct. 27, when they claimed a 96-89 win over the Cavs on opening night.
|KG, Pierce get to heart of the matter||03.12.10 at 11:41 pm ET|
And it started hours before they dismantled the Indiana Pacers, 122-103, at TD Garden.
It began with a team meeting in which Doc Rivers spoke and then asked for any and all feedback from everyone in the room.
“We really had a heart-to-heart this morning. To tell you the truth it really left a bad taste in our mouth the way we played last game,” Paul Pierce said of Wednesday’s 111-91 stinker to Memphis. “Nobody wants to be booed at home by their home crowd seeing everybody leave early. That really sat with me that night to be honest. I think it sat with everybody. Today we just came in, talked to each other, we just played like a team that was on a mission tonight and hopefully it can carry over for the rest of the season.’
Kevin Garnett said Friday’s team chat was productive on many different levels.
“Just open dialogue this morning. Doc did the majority of the talking but he opened up the floor to everybody to give their two cents and we just spoke freely. It was the first time in a while that we’ve done that, we usually talk among ourselves and try to figure things out amongst the team without coaches or any other staff members. But today it included coaches and players, and just had open dialogue, it wasn’t anything negative, just general conversation about defensive schemes and things we can get better at.”
Rivers said before Friday’s game that the team did some old-fashioned film watching, reviewing whole parts of Wednesday’s horror show to let it sink in and let players understand the big picture of intensity and energy. Both were in high supply in Friday’s bounce-back laugher.
“We watched a little game film which is always good, that way as a whole we can sit there and critique each other,” Garnett said. “I think the best thing about this team since I’ve been here is that we’ve all been able to talk to one another and critique each other and be positive and get results out of it. It wasn’t just about the talking, I think what we talked about we actually did tonight. I think we played with 200 percent more energy tonight than obviously the other night.
“And to concur with what Paul said, you never want to be in a situation where you’re getting booed at home, home is supposed to be where you lay your head at and where you’re most comfortable at. We had to re-establish that here. I thought tonight, the results of us playing hard came out, obviously we hit some shots tonight. We watched the film from the Memphis game and what it came down to, pretty much our defensive energy was there, we just didn’t make any shots, and for that it’s almost like we weren’t doing anything on offense. It was determined by our energy on defense, and that can’t happen.’
|Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Pacers||03.12.10 at 9:27 pm ET|
There was no let up in the Celtics in the third quarter on this night. The Celtics led 67-47 at the break and expanded their lead to as many as 25 in the third quarter, taking a 98-78 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Paul Pierce had another seven points in the quarter and leads the Celtics with 20 while Rajon Rondo has 16 points and 11 assists. Former Georgetown star Roy Hibbert is marking his alma mater’s 23-point thrashing of Marquette in the Big East Tournament with a big night. He has 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field to lead Indiana.
The entire second unit, which began the Celtics’ roll on this night late in the first quarter, finished out the third with Michael Finley, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson looking like a smooth functioning unit.
This is the type of rest Doc Rivers would like to give his starters. Up 20 points and cruising late in the second half.
|Second quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Pacers||03.12.10 at 8:47 pm ET|
He was Vinny Johnson, Vinny DelNegro and Vinny from New York all in one action-packed second quarter. Robinson, playing his most dominant minutes since being acquired from the Knicks at the trading deadline, filled it up in the second quarter with nine of his 12 points as the Celtics outscored Indiana by 14 to take a 67-47 halftime lead. Their 38 points were the most in the second quarter this season.
Robinson drilled all three of his 3-point attempts and has four for the game. Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 13 on 5-of-7 shooting and Rajon Rondo has 10. No wonder, the fans gave the C’s a standing ovation as they headed to the locker room. No boos tonight.
The other notable result of the quarter featured one of the better performances by the second unit in recent memory. The Celtics led 24-23 when the second unit came on late in the first quarter. They left the starters with a 45-32 advantage.
|Celtics trying to get in shape||03.12.10 at 8:14 pm ET|
Doc Rivers admitted before Friday’s game that he may have given his team too much of a break this season from practice and is thinking of increasing the frequency and intensity of practice as the season winds down.
“I would say I have probably balanced on the wrong side in some ways,” Rivers said. “Obviously, the rest was important but I do think we have to practice more and get more conditioning in. This late in the year, you rarely hear that but I think we’re one of the teams that have to actually do it.”
|Doc on Pierce, KG: C’s need them at ‘their peak’||03.12.10 at 8:13 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he is thinking of sitting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, having them miss games and practice more to help them find their rhythm and conditioning as the playoffs approach.
“If that means working more in practice and missing games, then that’s what we have to do,” Rivers said. “Let’s just be honest, if they’re not at their peak, it’s going to be very tough for us to do anything. We have to have them playing at their peak.”
Pierce has been recovering from an injured left foot, while Garnett has continued to deal with his injured right knee. Yet both players indicated a strong desire following Friday’s game to continue playing and not occasionally sit out games along the lines of what Rivers suggested.
‘I’m not really feeling that idea, but hey, this is the ‘Doc Rivers Show’ and we are just guests on it,” Garnett said. “So whatever he feels is best, you know Paul and I, I think I speak for both of us we don’t really feel that.”
|Hollins: C’s still ‘one of top 3 in East’||03.11.10 at 1:16 am ET|
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins wasn’t about to let his suffer the same fate as the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
After his team blew a 13-point lead in the final six minutes, only to lose to Boston, 86-83, Wizards coach Flip Saunders said his team relieved itself collectively down its leg.
Hollins knew with his young, energetic team well rested in Boston while the Celtics were battling Milwaukee half a continent away 24 hours earlier, his team would have a decided advantage and likely jump out to a quick, big lead.
Hollins was prophetic. The Grizzlies raced out to a 27-12 lead after one and 55-33 at halftime.
And when the Celtics rallied to get within 12 in the third quarter he reminded his team what was at stake during a succession of timeouts.
‘I was telling them to keep being aggressive,” Hollins said. “I watched the Washington Wizards come in here the other noght and literally beat the Celtics up for three and half quarters and then quit playing and the Celtics came back and won the game.
“I told them whatever happens, whatever run, we’ll call timeout and try to stem the run but when we go back out there we’re gonna be aggressive. We kept throwing the ball up the court and attacking the. We had two or three quick 1-2 passes then a layup after they scored which kind of took the start to them and also took the crowd out of the game.’
While a respectable 34-31, the Grizzlies are still on the outside looking in, trying to catch Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s a big win, and we’re happy with the win, but we know we caught the Celtics on a down night,” Hollins said. “They played back to back, had to travel home, had a tough game [Tuesday] night in Milwaukee. They’re still, in my mind, one of the top three teams in the East and they’re going to show that as they go forward into the playoffs. But we’re just happy to get a win and we’re excited to have 34 wins and be three games over .500.
‘We talked about making some noise, we beat a lot of good teams during the course of this season and this the first big road win though against one of the top teams in the league and we caught a break so that helped us but we’ll take it. That’s the way the NBA is and that just takes us further and closer to our goal.’
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