|Richardson: ‘Paul’s a great NBA player’||04.27.10 at 11:10 pm ET|
But on Tuesday, Richardson shared a different opinion after the Heat’s elimination in Game 5.
‘Paul’s a great NBA player,’ he told WEEI.com. ‘That’s the only opinion that really matters, his NBA game. He’s a good NBA player.’
Even though Richardson referred to Pierce as ‘an actress’ in Game 1, he said he never knocked his talent. That’s something that, in spite of their differences on the court, Richardson cannot deny.
‘I’ve always respected his game, never not,’ he said. ‘I mean, he’s an All-Star, he’s a Finals MVP, he has his accolades, and he well deserves them. I take my hat off to him as a basketball player. Nothing will change that.’
|Fast Break: Celtics-Heat||04.27.10 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Celtics advanced to the second-round of the playoffs, knocking off the Heat in five games with a 96-86 win on Tuesday night. Ray Allen scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half to lead the Celtics, while Paul Pierce finished with 21 points. It was a night in which all five starters submitted strong efforts, as Kevin Garnett posted a 14-8-3 line (with three steals) and Kendrick Perkins had eight points, six boards and three blocked shots.
Dwayne Wade did everything he could to keep the Heat alive. He entered the game averaging 33.6 points per game in the series, and he nearly reached that mark with a game-high 31 points (though he had to work for it, shooting just 10-of-24.) Mario Chalmers was a solid second option for Miami, scoring 20 points.
Wait and see time now for the Celtics. Should the Cavaliers finish off the Bulls Tuesday night, Game 1 of the semifinal series would be at Cleveland on Saturday night.
First Quarter: The Celtics finished the opening quarter on a 13-4 run to grab a 29-21 lead. Pierce led the Celtics in scoring with nine points, while Rondo added eight points, four rebounds and two assists.
Boston shot 67 percent from the floor and passed the ball brilliantly, collecting 11 assists on 14 field goals. However, five turnovers by the Celtics kept the game within shouting distance (or at least was the reason the lead wasn’t in double-digits.)
Wade and Carlos Arroyo topped the Heat with six points each.
Although the Celtics were able to get to the basket and had the only two offensive rebounds of the opening quarter, they did not attempt a free throw. The Heat got to the line four times.
Second Quarter: The Celtics were just 24 minutes away from ending this series, leading the Heat by a score of 48-38 at the half.
Pierce (13 points) and Rondo (12 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists) led the Celtics charge. Also a strong first half for Kendrick Perkins, who finished the opening 24 with six points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Wade led the Heat with 11 points, but shot only 4-for-11 and had trouble getting to the basket. Miami shot just 34.9 percent from the floor and missed all eight three-point attempts.
In the Something to Watch Department, things got a little chippy in the second, with Wade and Rondo exchanging some words and Quentin Richardson (who did NOTHING in the game) trying his charm on Garnett.
Third Quarter: The Celtics led the Heat by a score of 71-65 after the third quarter.
For the first five minutes of the quarter it looked like this series was on life support. When Perkins scored on a sweet pass from Rondo at 6:56 the Celtics had a 67-46 lead. The Perkins score capped a 19-8 run for the Celtics, a stretch that included a trio of three-pointers from Allen. It sure seemed at the time that Miami was more than willing to exit stage left and do so quietly.
But the Heat (OK, and by the Heat I mean Dwyane Wade) showed serious heart, ending the quarter on a 19-4 run. Wade scored 10 points in the quarter and led all players with 21 points through the third. Chalmers, to be fair, also stepped up, scoring nine points. Chalmers finished the third with 15 total points off the bench, seven more than the entire Celtics reserve unit.
Pierce and Rondo each had 16 points through the third to pace the Celtics. The Celtics hit just 12-of-34 shots in the second and third quarters combined.
Fourth Quarter: The crowd at the Garden was getting tense early in the fourth, as the Heat were able to trim the lead to three points (73-70) with 10:14 left. The idea of Wade taking over again and bringing the series back to Miami seemed a reasonable scenario at this point, but three points would be as close as it would get, as the Celtics authored a 15-6 run over the next 4:10 to put the game (and series) away. The Heat never got closer than eight points after that run.
Player of the Game: Has to be Rondo. He played nearly 44 minutes, finishing with 16 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and four steals (just two turnovers.) And if you were looking to pick the nits on Rondo, have to find another weakness tonight, as he made all four free throw attempts. The unquestioned MVP of the series.
Stat of the Game: The Heat had 20 three-point attempts, making just five. Ray Allen needed just six three-point attempts to make five.
|Third-Quarter Wrap: Celtics-Heat||04.27.10 at 8:58 pm ET|
The Celtics lead the Heat by a score of 71-65 after the third quarter.
For the first five minutes of the quarter it looked like this series was on life support. When Kendrick Perkins scored on a sweet pass from Rajon Rondo at 6:56 the Celtics had a 67-46 lead. The Perkins score capped a 19-8 run for the Celtics, a stretch that included a trio of three-pointers from Ray Allen (now with 13 points in the game). It sure seemed at the time that Miami was more than willing to exit stage left and do so quietly.
But the Heat (OK, and by the Heat I mean Dwyane Wade) showed serious heart, ending the quarter on a 19-4 run. Wade scored 10 points in the quarter and leads all players with 21 points. Mario Chalmers, to be fair, also stepped up, scoring nine points. Chalmers has 15 points off the bench, seven more than the entire Celtics reserve unit.
Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo each have 16 points to pace the Celtics. The Celtics have hit just 12-of-34 shots since the end of the first quarter.
|Second Quarter Wrap: Celtics-Heat||04.27.10 at 8:17 pm ET|
The Celtics are just 24 minutes away from ending this series, leading the Heat by a score of 48-38 at the half.
Paul Pierce (13 points) and Rajon Rondo (12 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists) have led the Celtics charge. Also a strong first half for Kendrick Perkins, who finished the opening 24 with six points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Dwyane Wade leads the Heat with 11 points, but has shot only 4-for-11 and has had trouble getting to the basket. Miami is shooting just 34.9 percent from the floor and have missed all eight three-point attempts.
|First Quarter Wrap: Celtics-Heat||04.27.10 at 7:37 pm ET|
The Celtics finished the opening quarter on a 13-4 run to grab a 29-21 lead. Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring with nine points, while Rajon Rondo added eight points, four rebounds and two assists.
Boston shot 67 percent from the floor and passed the ball brilliantly, collecting 11 assists on 14 field goals.
|Celtics, Heat playing with desperation||04.27.10 at 6:59 pm ET|
It doesn’t matter which team has the 3-1 edge in the series — both the Celtics and Heat are playing with desperation.
The obvious desperation lies in the Heat locker room. Facing elimination, the team is not getting ahead of themselves and looking forward to a series swing. They are zoned in on a necessary win.
‘Oh no, without a doubt this is a must win,’ Quentin Richardson said. ‘That’s the just reality of it. You win or you go home. Everyone knows that it’s a must win for us. But at the same time, that’s not putting any added pressure on us. That’s the situation. You go out and you play, and you play the game as hard as you can and you leave everything out there. ‘
Even though the Celtics season is not on the line tonight, they are playing with the same sense of urgency as the Heat. They want to send the Heat home to Miami, not join them there for a Game 6.
‘We want to finish. It’s all about finishing,’ said Glen Davis. ‘We have an opportunity to finish and we’ve got to go out there and take it. They’re not going to give it to us. It’s not going to be handed to us. They’re not going to just lay down, we already know that.’
Both teams stressed the importance of jumping out first. Richardson said it is ‘kind of tricky’ for a team to impose their will on the road and noted the Heat will have to battle against the energy from the Celtics home crowd. Davis said the Celtics have to attack from the jumpball and play 48 minutes of hard basketball.
Whether they are up 3-1 or down 1-3, the Celtics and the Heat view Game 5 the same way.
‘I think playoffs are about playing with desperation and urgency,’ said Ray Allen. ‘You turn every switch you can in the playoffs to get a win, so I would expect both teams.’
|Wade’s D on Rondo ‘destructive’||04.27.10 at 6:39 pm ET|
One of the elements of Miami’s Game 4 win was the defense Dwyane Wade played on Rajon Rondo late in the game. Actually defense isn’t the right word. Wade was assigned the task of guarding Rondo, but he gave him such a wide berth that he was able to roam the passing lanes and help on anyone who wanted to take it to the basket.
This has been done numerous times before, of course, most notably by Kobe Bryant in the 2008 Finals.
In truth, the Celtics expected to see Wade guarding Rondo much earlier in the series. Doc Rivers hinted before the playoffs even began that he figured that’s the way Miami would go. Now that the Heat are down to their last chance, the Celtics figure that they will see a lot of it in Game 5.
“We thought we’d see it much earlier,” Rivers said before the game. “They’ve used it in the fourth quarter and they’ve done it in special situations [end of the game, shot clock, out of bounds plays, etc]. Wade is really destructive when he’s guarding Rondo. He’s like a free safety. A very good safety.”
The reason Miami doesn’t go this route on every possession is that they need Wade to carry the load on the offensive end, as well. Although it should be noted that trying to follow Ray Allen around all those picks is not a lot of fun either.
Rondo was asked after Game 2 if he was surprised that he hadn’t seen Wade on him more and he just shrugged. “They’re having maybe four guys guard me,” he said at the time. “Dorrell Wright, [Carlos] Arroyo, [Mario] Chalmers, Wade. I don’t really care who guards me.”
Rondo destroyed Arroyo in Game 4, and Chalmers hasn’t fared much better. Wade would be Miami’s best option, but can the Heat really ask him to be the best player on both ends of the floor? If they do, Rivers wants Rondo and Kendrick Perkins to cut to the basket at every opportunity. They key, Rivers said, is for Rondo to stay aggressive, even if he doesn’t have the ball in his hands.
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