|Doc: We need more from our bench||05.03.10 at 1:20 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — In Game 1, every starter except for Kendrick Perkins played at least 38 minutes and Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo both logged over 42. Part of that was foul trouble. Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis both picked up three fouls early in the first half and part of that was the ongoing production problems with the second unit.
That has to change in Game 2.
“You don’t do a lot of rotation changes, but you do make some tweaks as far as what you run on the offense end and defensively,” Doc Rivers said at the team’s shootaround. “Honestly, we’ve got to get more out of our bench. The guys are on the floor too long. We just have to get more play out of our bench. Our bench has to come through for us.
“They have to play,” Rivers continued. “We’re not going to win this series playing five guys 45 minutes a night. It’s not going to happen. I believe in our bench and I think they’ll come through, but we need them to.”
There will be three days between Games 2 and 3, so that does leave an opening if Rivers feels the need to extend minutes, but that was also part of the rationale for working the starters so hard in Game 1 when the Celtics built an 11-point lead only to wind up losing by eight.
“We could extend minutes tonight, but we did just play on Saturday.,” Rivers said. “The break could go either way. If you win tonight you’d like to play tomorrow if you could. It does change your thinking a little bit honestly with the long lay off.”
Rivers indicated that he would like to get Wallace more involved in the post (as well as Paul Pierce), but don’t expect any major changes.
“The chess match comes when you think you’re overmatched as far as talent on the floor,” Rivers said. “Then you have to really try out of the box things. I don’t think either guy thinks that in this case.”
|All eyes on Rondo||05.02.10 at 5:03 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — Rajon Rondo might have the most difficult job of any player in the playoffs.
On the one hand, he is emerging as the Celtics best player and their best chance to upset Cleveland. On the other hand, he still has to make sure that his teammates, particularly Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are all involved in the offense.
“It’s difficult,” Rondo said. “I still believe that we have to go through the Big Three. I try to get those guys the ball as much as possible, but at the same time keep [the defense] honest. I guess in the second half that’s exactly what I did, called more movement plays. At the start of the third I was aggressive but after that I wanted the ball to keep moving. I wanted to keep everyone involved.”
The Cavaliers don’t have anyone who can guard him, so they tried three different players — Mo Williams, Anthony Parker and superfreak Jamario Moon in certain situation. Parker earned praise for containing Rondo in the second half after he blitzed Williams for 19 points and eight assists in the first half, but that’s a classic case of a cause and effect.
“We expected everybody [to guard Rondo],” Doc Rivers said. “We assumed either LeBron [James} or Parker. I guess it mattered. Statistically it says that it did.”
Rondo took just two shots and scored just eight points to go with four assists in the second half and for that, Parker gets the credit. But really the Celtics didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were available to them. Some of that is on Rondo, but not all of it.
“It’s a tough one for Rondo because he’s so conscious of Paul and Ray,” Rivers said. “If you have a pick and roll advantage you have to take advantage. I thought he tired to facilitate and the guys didn’t take advantage of it. We didn’t take advantage of what he created and that actually makes Rondo better if we do because then they can’t focus on him as much.”
If there was one overriding truth from Game 1 for the Celtics, it’s that Rondo has a huge mismatch over Williams, and no matter who the Cavs put on him, he has to take it upon himself to carry the load.
“I’m still trying to figure it out.,” Rondo said. “It’s hard at times. At first I wasn’t aggressive at all to start the game. As soon as I came out, maybe nine minutes into the game, and came to the sidelines, Doc was telling me to be aggressive. I just tried to turn it on and attack the rim.”
Is there a danger of relying too much on Rondo? A better question might be, as opposed to what?
“He’s a good player and he’s going to have the opportunity to get into the paint,” Rivers said. “Should we say they rely too much on LeBron? You got something going, you stick with it. I thought we should have done it more.”
|Rivers on Sheed: He has to play better||05.02.10 at 4:38 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — Rasheed Wallace has said all season that the playoffs are what motivates him, but after a disastrous regular season, the playoffs have been pretty much the same story for the Celtics prized free agent acquisition.
Wallace picked up three quick fouls in the first half and went 1-for-5 in 13 minutes of Game 1 against the Cavaliers. He was also a liability again on the defensive end where his rotations were slow and his help defense was lacking.
“He has to play better, bottom line,” Doc Rivers said Sunday. “He has to play better defense. The offense will come but he has to be a better defender. We can’t wait. He has to play better.”
Rivers elected not to use Shelden Williams despite the heavy foul trouble that Wallace and Glen Davis found themselves in early in the game. That might change, although Rivers didn’t quite his tip his hand on that front.
“He is in the discussion every day,” Rivers said of Williams.
Is he is it more today?
“No,” Rivers answered. “But he definitely is in that discussion.”
|Celtics mantra for Game 2: Attack||05.02.10 at 4:32 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — Many times in the NBA, the post-game reactions to what just occurred need to be tempered by what you see on the film later. Emotions are high, everyone is looking for that one key moment that changed everything (hello, Mo Williams), but after careful consideration the real truths start to emerge.
But for the Celtics after Game 1, the first impressions were often correct. They started the game by attacking the Cavaliers and then they stopped.
“I thought we settled,” Doc Rivers said. “I said it after the game. Usually after the game you say stuff and then you watch the film and half of it is true, half of it is what you thought you saw. But it’s pretty much what we saw. We bailed out on a lot of shots, quick shots. We didn’t make a lot of next passes, we didn’t attack. We had guys flying at us in the air and we’re still trying to shoot jump shots instead of putting the ball back on the floor. That’s not even an adjustment. That’s what we should do anyway.”
The obvious follow-up question to all that was whether the Celtics were tired at the end of the game after Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo all logged between 38 and 45 minutes of time.
“It had nothing to do with fatigue,” Rivers said. “We settled. It happens.”
It wasn’t that the shots the Celtics took were necessarily bad ones either. Pierce had an open 3 that could have tied the game, but it didn’t fall. Garnett missed a number of shots in the lane, including a follow off an offensive rebound that he can make 99 times out of 100. But, the shots could have been better.
“I think the jumpers that we did get we’re good looks and that I’ll take,” Pierce said. “Doc talks about when the jumpers aren’t falling, you got to take the ball to the bucket. That’s part of the game. I was a little disappointed only going to the free throw line twice. I think I’ve got to be a little more aggressive in the paint. I’ll still take the shots that I took but I have to mix it up a little bit more.”
Pierce started off hot, making four of his five shots in the first quarter, but he was 1-for-12 after that.
What was particularly troubling to Rivers was that the Celtics didn’t handle the Cavs counter-attack very well. Yes, Williams lit up the crowd with a dunk, his first in a game with the Cavs, and yes he then went on a scoring binge, but the Celtics never had an answer for the run.
“We didn’t handle it well,” Rivers said. “We were walking, we didn’t get into our sets so it was easy to get us out of stuff. It was more because frustration was high. It happened, but it can’t happen, especially in a playoff game.”
As they prepared for Game 2, there was little talk of adjustments. Simply more effort and that was as evident Sunday afternoon as it was late Saturday evening.
|LeBron: I came out tentative||05.02.10 at 1:16 am ET|
CLEVELAND — It’s the story that won’t go away in this series and after a game in which LeBron James picked his spots instead of playing with his usual reckless abandon, the elbow dominated post-game talk, including a question about whether he had a cortisone shot.
“I did not take any shots,” he said. “I don’t like needles, so I didn’t do that. I tried not to hyperextend it any worse than it was. Did I come out a little tentative? I thought about it a little bit too much. It’s the first real injury I’ve had to play with, especially with it being on my shooting hand. I came out tentative, but if I’m on the court I have to be productive. I’m not a guy to make excuses.”
James took five shots in the first quarter, most of them in the lane, and missed four of them. He took two outside shots in the second quarter and missed them both. But then he heated up in the second half and finished with 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting and 4-for-9 from beyond the arc.
“I think his elbow is fine,” Doc Rivers said. “I’m pretty sure of it, actually. I really thought he was trying to get everyone involved. That’s what he does. He eases into the game and he actually did a pretty god job, but he just didn’t make some shots. You knew it was coming.”
|LeBron rested, ready||05.01.10 at 7:47 pm ET|
CLEVELAND –The most important elbow in basketball spent the last three days avoiding contact, but LeBron James said prior to Game 1 between the Cavaliers and Celtics that he is ready.
“I spent the last three days concentrating and preparing for this series,” James said. “I expect a lot of physical play. I haven’t done much physically in practice, I’ve been very conscious, knowing that today is the most important day besides the last three days, physically. We took it very light the last few days. I’m ready for today.”
We won’t the full extent of his elbow injury until the two teams take the floor, but the Celtics are preparing as if he is 100 percent.
|Celtics seek to find Mo||05.01.10 at 7:40 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — Rajon Rondo is one of the best offensive rebounding point guards in the NBA. For a team that doesn’t get a lot of offensive boards to begin with, his ability to crash the glass and keep possessions alive is yet another piece of Rondo’s unique package.
But against the Cavs, Rondo may have to use his discretion. That’s because Mo Williams, Cleveland’s ace 3-point specialist is on the other side.
“Offensive rebounds are great as long as you get them, but when you don’t get them you’re probably going to give up a basket on the offensive end.,” Doc Rivers said prior to Game 1. “Against Cleveland, it’s even more important because if our points guards go to the glass and don’t get it, Mo Williams is probably going to get a 3. Most of his 3’s against us came in transition. Most of Mo’s 3’s against everyone else came through set offense. We’re pretty sure that we have to get back and find him.”
Williams shot 55 percent on 3′s against the Celtics this season (12-for-22) and the Celtics have made defending the arc a tip priority in this series. The other concern for Rivers is that when Rondo drives to the basket, that could leave him vulnerable in transition.
“Mo will leak out,” Rivers said. “That’s the other place that he got 3′s.”
Still, Rivers doesn’t want to completely take away this aspect of Rondo’s game. Just as he is allowed some leeway on the perimeter when he goes for steals, he is also allowed some latitude when he crashes the glass.
Cavs coach Mike Brown indicated that it’s difficult to prepare for Rondo because there’s no way to replicate what he does in practice.
“I think that guy is in Jamaica,” Rivers said. “His name is Usain Bolt. Just like we can’t recreate LeBron [James]. You can’t recreate any of those guys.”
Rivers has spoken in glowing terms about Rondo’s increased maturity this season. From running the team and calling plays, to knowing when to gamble for steals and you can add his rebounding to that list, as well. There’s a lot riding on Rondo’s shoulders in this series.