|Mickael Pietrus: The secret weapon against LeBron James||06.04.12 at 4:16 am ET|
‘I try to play tough, because you have to respect the jersey you’re playing for,” was all Pietrus would say about his pressure on LeBron James as the Miami power forward was jammed by Pietrus at the top of the circle as the clock wound down. Then Pietrus fed James off to the right, where there were two more Celtics waiting to help out.
Triple-teamed, James was forced to dump off to Udonis Haslem who missed a jumper at the buzzer, sending the game game to overtime, 89-89.
What was also remarkable about the play at the end of regulation was that the situation was identical to the end of Game 2. That’s when the Celtics got away with Rajon Rondo guarding a player eight inches taller when James missed a fallaway at the end of regulation. Doc Rivers wasn’t going to allow that to happen again. He put Pietrus on him and made sure he had help by funneling James into a triple-team.
Pietrus kept it up in the overtime. With Boston desperately trying to protect a one-point lead, the Celtics missed consecutive shots. But there was Pietrus flying in from the weak side and picking up the rebound to extend the Celtics possession. Those two rebounds took a total of 45 seconds off the clock at a most-critical time.
‘The last two were huge. Sometimes that’s what it takes to win basketball games,” Pietrus said. “You can always count on me if you want to win games. I’m going to play hard. That’s what I did for my team tonight. My main focus is to go to Miami now and try and get another win.
‘If I don’t have my shot I won’t get frustrated because I know we have legends on the floor. You have to respect them. As far as right now I’m trying to focus on what the team needs the most. From me that’s defense and rebounding.’
|Doc Rivers and Celtics: ‘Last year was last year… We don’t want a repeat of that’||06.03.12 at 7:14 pm ET|
Try as they might, the national and local media was unsuccessful in the 45 hours since the end of Friday’s Boston’s win over the Heat in Game 3 to draw the Celtics in to comparing last year to this year against LeBron James and company.
“I don’t even remember last year, to be honest with you,” said Paul Pierce when asked about the details of the 4-1 loss to the Heat in the Eastern semifinals last year.
“I don’t, really,” Doc Rivers said when asked if he recalled Boston winning Game 3 in 2011 before losing a heart-breaker in Game 4 in overtime. “I know we lost. I think that’s the game Rondo got injured but I’m not even sure of that. Oh, it was Game 3. I don’t even remember. That tells you what I remember.”
Indeed, the inspired Celtics overcame the dislocation of Rajon Rondo‘s left elbow in a collision with Dwyane Wade in Game 3. They had a great chance to tie the series when Ray Allen drilled a three to put the Celtics up, 84-81, with 2:28 left. But James hit a three of his own 28 seconds later and James hit a jumper to put Miami up, 86-84. Pierce hit a jumper to tie it, 86-86, with 41 seconds left. After a James turnover, the Celtics had the last 19.5 seconds left to win it. They had to settle for a missed fadeaway from Pierce with 0.9 seconds remaining. ‘
In that game, Kevin Garnett had seven points and made just 1-of-10 from the field in 41 minutes. That cannot happen again for the Celtics to win Game 4, something they failed to do in 2011.
“We just want to be consistent in how we play,” Pierce said. “Last year was last year. It’s over with. We don’t want a repeat of that so we just have to be consistent in everything we’re trying to do. We’re going to continue to try and get him the ball, get as many as touches out of him as possible. We know that’s been working for us. So, when Kevin gets it going from the inside, it really opens up things for a lot of us on the perimeter.”
The Celtics would be outscored 12-4 in overtime in the game that would essentially seal Boston’s playoff fate in five games.
“We had opportunities,” Rivers reflected. “Clearly, we had a couple of great shots. I think we had a terrible possession now that I think about it before overtime. Our last possession [of regulation]. Thanks for bringing that up.”
|Celtics-Heat Game 4: All about adjustments||at 2:10 pm ET|
WALTHAM — There’s little doubt the Heat will try to get Dwyane Wade more involved in Game 4 as they look to take a 3-1 series lead and have the chance to clinch the Eastern Conference finals at home on Tuesday in South Beach.
“We tried to collapse on him when he has the ball,” Pierce said. “He does a lot of isolation from the top [of the circle] so we just try to sink in. We know how great he can be driving to the hole in the half-court. When he comes off the pick-and-roll, we want to trap him as much as possible. We don’t really want to get him going. We know they’re going to get the majority of opportunities between him and LeBron but he’s one of the guys we feel like we can kind of corral with Kevin and myself with the size advantage that we have.”
Do things change if Chris Bosh returns?
“We haven’t seen that,” Pierce added. “We’ll make our adjustments definitely if Bosh is out there playing. You can’t trap as much because he’s another perimeter threat, another scoring threat. We’ll have to see.
“Always in-game decisions and adjustments are important, especially when things don’t work out. That’s part of the game. When one thing isn’t going right, you have to make that adjustment. We figure we have to get to their shooters. They made a lot of 3-point shots in Game 2 so that’s something we had to make an adjustment to get to the shooters a little bit better. We did a better job at that. We did a better job of keeping them out of the paint and did a better job of keeping them off the free throw line. So, every game is different. When you realize your mistakes, that’s when the adjustments come in.”
As for attacking Miami’s defense, even with LeBron James and Wade on the court, Pierce says they have to keep attacking the low post.
“I think we have the size advantage with [Kevin Garnett] and [Brandon Bass], especially when they go small a lot,” Pierce said. “The emphasis is to try to get the ball in the paint as much as possible and if they collapse, find our shooters. That’s been the thing the whole season, we want to play inside-to-out as long as they’re good shots.
“I thought we just moved the ball a lot better. The ball didn’t stick. They’re a great defensive team and when the ball is sticking on one side of the floor and they’re loading up. I thought the ball really moved. We set harder screens, we cut a little bit better and that frees up everybody when we play that way.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Paul Pierce: ‘We needed a team effort’||06.02.12 at 3:08 am ET|
Yes, the Celtics had Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all score at least 20 points Friday night in the 101-91 Game 3 win over the Heat. But Friday night’s must-have win over Miami had a much different feel.
Instead of just seven points from the bench (as was the case Wednesday), the Celtics watched as four players combined for 19 points, led by Marquis Daniels, who scored nine in nearly 20 minutes of action. Michael Pietrus also played nearly 20 minutes while Keyon Dooling played 17, Ryan Hollins played six and Greg Stiemsma played three.
‘It was huge,” said Pierce, who scored 23 in 40 minutes. “We needed a team effort. Guys on the bench, they are registered professional. Marquis hasn’t really played a lot for us in this series, but when his name was called upon he was ready. That’s what being a professional is all about. Every day he comes in, gets his work in. [Doc Rivers] called upon him tonight, he did a tremendous job guarding Lebron. He even contributed on the offensive end and that was huge for us. The bench was tremendous tonight. We needed everything.’
Pierce also sent a message similar to the 2004 Red Sox. The Heat have never lost a series leading 2-0. The Celtics are trying to buck the odds by winning a series down, 0-2.
‘We’ve been able to bounce back,” Pierce said. “We know we’re capable. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We’re not going to lose confidence being down 2-0. We don’t look at the statistics. We don’t look at the records. Records are made to be broken. You know, usually they say being down 2-0, what happens, but we don’t believe in that stuff. We’re just going to take it one game at a time. Hopefully hold down our home court Game 4, and see what happens when we come back from Miami.’
Friday’s win guarantees there will be a Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday. A win Sunday night will guarantee a Game 6 back in Boston next Thursday. So, how important is Game 4?
‘Every game is important,” Pierce said. “Definitely you want to defend your home court. You don’t want to get in a situation where you go down 3-1 and then they have two games left at home. It doesn’t really figure in your chances. You’re not the favorite anymore. Hopefully, the crowd come back with that same energy for us in a couple days and we’ll take Game 4.
‘It feels good. Especially after we felt like we had a chance at Game 2-how we let it slip in our hands- so it’s good to come back home and get a quality win.’
|Marquis Daniels saves the day||at 2:23 am ET|
Doc Rivers told Marquis Daniels to be ready. Then he didn’t play. Rivers didn’t tell Daniels anything before Game 3, but there he was checking into the game in the first quarter after Brandon Bass got into foul trouble.
“Hopefully,” Daniels said. “He doesn’t say anything to me next game.”
Daniels scored nine points and had five rebounds in the Celtics‘ 101-91 victory. That was the “gravy” as Rivers called it. What he really needed from Daniels, and from Keyon Dooling and from whoever else he throws out there from his patchwork bench, is defense and that’s one thing Daniels has always been able to provide.
Rivers went with a small lineup against Miami, mainly because he has no choice. Without Chris Bosh, the Heat are getting extended minutes from Shane Battier and Mike Miller and the Celtics are scrambling to matchup. Fortunately, Rivers has bodies to throw at the problem and this time he used them.
Daniels was plus-14 in his 19 minutes and Dooling was plus-10. Together, they brought the defense. Dooling, with his manic, wired intensity and Daniels with his cerebral, give no quarter approach.
“I thought what the second unit did was they came in with a defensive energy that changed the game,” Rivers said. “And they scored off the defense. They got stops, they ran the floor, Marquis cut and got to the basket. Marquis made great passes, and then we posted him up a couple of times as well. But I thought it was more from that. And that’s who they are. Listen, they are not going to put up great numbers offensively, but they know exactly who they are. They accept that, and they are comfortable with that.”
In his second go-round with the Celtics, Daniels has been even more enigmatic than his first tour. He seemingly lost the ability to finish inside and with that went his playing time. That’s what separates this Celtics’ team from some of the others. Rotations have changed, playing time has fluctuated, but there have been no gripes and no complaints. Everyone just stays ready.
“Guys on the bench, they are registered professionals,” Paul Pierce said. “Marquis hasn’t really played a lot for us in this series, but when his name was called upon he was ready. That’s what being a professional is all about. Everyday he comes in, gets his work in.”
Daniels made one other huge contribution in the playoffs. In Game 2 against the Hawks, he helped shutdown Joe Johnson in a must-win performance. The stakes and the magnitude of the competition were even greater this time, but Daniels was ready.
“I continue to go back to Marquis because he’s a guy who hasn’t played much throughout these playoffs,” Dooling said. “I spend a lot of time with him off the court and there are a lot of frustrating nights for him. But through all the frustration he is able to keep a level of professionalism that is second to none. Imagine not playing much throughout these whole playoffs and having the cardio to play against some of the best athletes we have in our league- and be able to excel. I tip my hat to him.’
An inspired and fired up Kevin Garnett let everyone know exactly how proud he was of the Celtics fan base that supported the team Friday night in their 101-91 win over the Heat Friday night at TD Garden in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics avoided falling behind 3-0 in the series and could tie the series on Sunday with another home-court win.
‘It’s whatever, it’s desperation,” Garnett said. “You know, at this point it’s desperation, desperation basketball. Next game, Game 4, it’s going to be even more. You have to anticipate them making adjustments, were going to make some adjustments. But the tenacity, the desperation has to be there. We’re playing at home, we have to give it our all out and it will be out. The jungle was rockin’ tonight. I want to thank all the fans who came out. The [expletive] jungle was rockin’ tonight! I loved it. [Expletive] loved it.’
Garnett led the Celtics on the court as well as emotionally, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and helping the Celtics dominate the Heat in the paint, 58-46.
“KG is a difficult match’up for a lot of guys, period,” said LeBron James. “He started off really well. I think he had 12 points in the first quarter and got them off to a good start. That’s part of the reason why they had 58 points in the paint. He opened up a lot for not only himself but for his teammates as well. And he’s definitely a threat down there, and he made some huge shots.”
But Garnett, who had seven points in the opening quarter for the Celtics, repeated the mantra of desperation, something the Celtics came out with from the opening tip.
‘Desperation game, to be honest,” Garnett reiterated. “And we played like it too. You don’t want to be down 3-0 to a team like this. Very very good team, very talented team, well coached team. I feel like we played desperation basketball.
“I feel like these games at home, have to be nothing less than that. These are desperation games and we have to play them like that.’
|Celtics shootaround notes for Game 3: Extra time for KG and Ray||06.01.12 at 1:08 pm ET|
Not that they are expected to carry the team but Daniels knows more will be expected in Game 3 at the Garden. And it’s not necessarily the scoring but the energy level off the bench that has to be there. Daniels, Keyon Dooling and Mickael Pietrus are among those who could be vital in assuring Rajon Rondo doesn’t have to play the entire game like he did in Game 2.
“We just have to do what’s needed,” Daniels said at Friday morning’s shootaround. “Rondo obviously had a great game last game. If those guys [starters] continue to play well, we basically have to come in and do what we usually do, get some stops here and there, play good defense and knock down open shots.
“A little more here and there, and we’ll be OK.”
Pietrus led the bench in minutes with 28 on Wednesday, while Dooling added 15. Greg Stiemsma played just five minutes after picking up four quick fouls and Ryan Hollins, Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic and E’Twaun Moore all played under two minutes.
Daniels said the team’s focus is right where it needs to be, down 0-2 in the series to the heavily-favored Heat.
“We’re focused,” he said. “We’re going to go out and do what we need to do. We looked at film and got prepared so I think we’ll be ready.”
The focus was evident among most of the Celtics, who left after the shootaround to get their rest. However, Ray Allen stayed behind to work with assistants Ty Lue and Michael Longabardi while Kevin Garnett worked with assistant Jamie Young on mid-range and 3-point shooting, along with free throws.
Normally, both Allen and Garnett leave immediately after the shootaround, which focuses on half-court sets. Friday morning was different.
All Celtics were accounted for and present at Friday’s shootaround.
The Celtics will also look to take advantage of home court, where they’re 6-1 in the playoffs so far.
“It’s going to help a lot,” Daniels said. “Our crowd is going to be into it. It’s going to be a lot more intense. We’re going to come out focused and ready to play.
“Just stay consistent, come out and keep giving the energy where it’s needed, keep giving those guys their breaks and make sure we don’t fall off anywhere,” Daniels said. “We’re a veteran ball club so we don’t let too much get to us. You hate losing, obviously, but we’re going to come in focused and hopefully, we can get this one.”