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Ray Allen is optimistic but Doc Rivers is cautious about Game 3 05.03.12 at 1:43 pm ET
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Doc Rivers has been around way too long to get over overly excited – let alone ahead of himself – when players tell him they’re optimistic they can play.

But still Rivers was pleased Thursday when Ray Allen showed up, announcing that his left ankle felt good enough to allow him to practice as the team prepares for Game 3 against the Hawks on Friday at the Garden.

“[Friday] matters a lot more. I thought you said he said he was definitely playing,” Rivers said. “That would be great news. He’s going to practice but it’s going to be under my watch. He told me [Wednesday] he was going to practice and I told him, ‘we’ll see.’ Really, I don’t even know what to do. Honest to God. Eddie and our doctors have all talked. We don’t know the answer. We don’t know if practicing is a good idea or not. If he practices today but doesn’t play [Friday], I’m going to be upset at myself.”

Allen took part in the full 75-minute Celtics practice Thursday, which was mostly comprised of half-court sets. Allen tried working out before Game 2 and had a bad setback that kept him from playing in Game 2 Tuesday.

“He biked [Wednesday], I guess that is good. I think he has a better shot but we’ll find that out,” Rivers said. “He wants to do more today so we’ll see. We did that the other day and it didn’t work so we have to maybe limit Ray from Ray. He’s such a creature of habit, and I actually thought that may hurt him for any chance of him to play. Obviously, it reacted that poorly after just the workout he did, it’s probably good he didn’t play, at the end of the day.

“He’s a tough one because he’s such a creature of habit. He does his workouts the night before every game and does his two hours of shooting and then before the game does his hour of shooting. That’s a lot of work. We have to figure out a way of allowing him to try to do some of it but not doing so much where when he finishes he can’t play because I’d rather take 10 minutes of him on the floor than nothing, if that’s what it comes to.”

Allen sounded as optimistic as he has since missing the final 11 games of the regular season with the left ankle injury and the first two playoff games.

“Last couple of days, I’ve been in a really good place so I’m optimistic,” Allen said before Thursday’s practice. “If I’m sitting here [Friday] feeling good, that’s a different story. I am optimistic about practicing today so that’s definitely a great step for me moving forward. Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce’s Top 5 Celtics playoff moments 05.02.12 at 11:36 am ET
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Jesus Shuttlesworth wasn’t available, so Paul Pierce channeled sports spirituality’s next best thing: Tim Tebow.

Pierce became the only Celtics player in the last 25 years to total 36 points and 14 rebounds in a playoff game, bringing the Celtics back from the dead, erasing an 11-point Hawks lead and avoiding an 0-2 postseason hole. In the absence of Rajon Rondo (suspension) and Ray Allen (ankle), everyone in Atlanta knew the C’s playoff hopes rested on Pierce’s shoulders — and he delivered a game for the ages, one of his many in Celtics lore.

Like Tebow’s completion percentage last season, Pierce shot 46 percent from the field, and his eight turnovers were every bit as bad as the new Jets quarterback’s pass attempts, but the inexplicable happened and the fourth quarter became Truth Time, so Pierce earned the right to Tebow at midcourt of Philips Arena.

Where does that performance rank among the Celtics captain’s Top 5 all-time great playoff moments?

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Fast Break: Truth be told, Celtics even Hawks series 05.01.12 at 10:17 pm ET
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Calling what the Celtics played without point guard Rajon Rondo “offense” is being kind, but Paul Pierce and a ridiculous defensive effort in the fourth quarter stole a Game 2 victory against the Hawks, 87-80.

Pierce finished with 36 points on 12-for-26 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and four assists (and eight turnovers), and the defense held the Hawks to 14 points and 4-for-19 shooting in the final 12 minutes to even the series 1-1 entering Friday’s Game 3. All that was left for Pierce was to Tebow in victory.

Kevin Garnett (15 points, 12 rebounds) also finished with a double-double, and Avery Bradley (14 points) was the only other Celtic to reach double figures as they shot 42.6 percent as a team.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Captain, obvious: In the absence of Rondo, the Celtics needed Pierce to be heavily involved. And he was early. Pierce scored on a layup just six seconds ion the game, the first of his nine straight C’s points to open the game. Through the first 4:45, Pierce played the Hawks even, 9-9, establishing himself as the best player on the floor and setting an early tone for a Celtics offense desperately in need of a leader. He finished strong, too, scoring 13 fourth-quarter points.

Depth perception: Believe it or not, the Celtics built a lead with Ryan Hollins, Sasha Pavlovic and Keyon Dooling all on the floor. After the C’s battled the Hawks to a 24-24 deadlock through the first quarter, they started the second with that trio, Garnett and Bradley. Even Marquis Daniels made an appearance. When Pierce returned to the floor three minutes into the second quarter, his team led, 28-27. It was just a one-point advantage, but the Celtics captain got some much-needed rest even when Doc Rivers had limited resources.

Hanging tough: Through three quarters, the Celtics played perhaps their worst basketball after the All-Star break, shooting 21-for-54 from the field (38.9 FG%) and 2-for-11 from beyond the arc (18.2 3P%) while committing double-digit turnovers. They had no business being in the game, but somehow, even after defensive mental lapses that led to uncontested dunks and wide-open 3-pointers, the Celtics trailed just 66-61 entering the fourth quarter — thanks to the Hawks’ 39.1 percent shooting (25-64 FG).

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Irish Coffee: Celtics, with or without Rondo at 12:37 pm ET
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Gone for Game 2 are Rajon Rondo‘s averages of 11.9 points, 11.7 assists and 4.8 boards in 36.9 minutes a night, so who can the Celtics count on to replace his scoring, distribution and rebounding?

In the wake of Rondo’s suspension for Tuesday night’s game in Atlanta (7:30 p.m., NBA TV), perhaps a look at how other Celtics performed in the point guard’s 13-game absence this season will answer that question.

For starters, we’ll examine how the void left by Rondo affects the other … um … well … the starters.

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Irish Coffee: All you need to know about Marc Davis 04.30.12 at 1:47 pm ET
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Don’t believe everything Tim Donaghy says, but at least the disgraced NBA referee is right about one thing.

“It’s not the first time Marc Davis has had problems with some of the Boston players,” said Donaghy, a one-time official who pled guilty in 2007 for his role in a gambling scandal, in his appearance on Dennis & Callahan. “I’m sure, again, that there’s a history there. This isn’t the first time something like this has come up with him.”

Davis, of course, is the official who, in a span of about 90 seconds from 2:14 to 0:41, handed the ball to the Hawks on a ball that clearly went off Atlanta‘s Josh Smith, whistled Brandon Bass for a foul on an apparent jump ball and subsequently called Rajon Rondo for a pair of technical fouls — the first for arguing on Bass’ behalf and the second for the infamous chest bump stumble.

“Davis is one of those guys that has rabbit ears for certain people,” said Donaghy. “He’s a referee that thinks people pay for their tickets to come and see him. He’s one of those guys that has a little bit of an ego. So, I’m sure it’s not the first time that he’s had a problem with Rondo, or something else happened in that game for Rondo to go after him and bump him over that call right there during that point of the game. Something else triggered that.”

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Doc Rivers has the back of Rajon Rondo 04.29.12 at 11:12 pm ET
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Doc Rivers had the back of Rajon Rondo during and after a controversial Game 1 loss in Atlanta. (AP)

Just before Rajon Rondo left the court in disgrace Sunday night after being ejected for chest bumping (not in a good way) official Marc Davis, he stopped and pleaded his case to his coach.

Doc Rivers stood there and listened briefly before Rondo was ushered to the locker room by team security. Apparently, it struck a chord with Rivers, who was once in Rondo’s shoes, playing a pair of heated playoff series against the Celtics back in 1986 and ’88.

Despite replays showing Rondo clearly bumped Davis with 40 seconds remaining before getting ejected, the Celtics coach came to the defense of his star point guard after Sunday night’s 83-74 loss to the Hawks in Game 1.

“He’s in the game, right?” Rivers answered when asked about Rondo’s reaction to the foul call on Brandon Bass, who raked Josh Smith in the face on a loose ball scramble. “So, when you’re in the game, I didn’t know there’s a rule the guy only involved in the play is the only one who can argue the call. As a coach, I’m not in the play, either. I argue calls vehemently.

“They’re all 10 competitors. You’re standing right there, you see what you see, you have a right to argue just as much as anybody else. I think it’s great. I think it’s getting your guys’ back on your team.”

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Fast Break: C’s lose their cool in Hot-Lanta at 9:40 pm ET
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Before Rajon Rondo lost his cool, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett couldn't wrestle the ball loose from Josh Smith. (AP)

The Celtics fell 83-74 on Sunday night in Game 1 of their first-round matchup with the Hawks. Rajon Rondo led the way for Boston with 20 points, but was ejected after arguing a call and bumping into official Marc Davis. Kevin Garnett started poorly, but finished with 20 points (8-19 FG) and 12 rebounds.

For the Hawks, Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Hit in the mouth: The Hawks shot 12-of-22 (54.5%) from the field in the first quarter. Atlanta got to the foul line, created easy transition buckets, and sustained the fervent pace that clearly gives it an advantage over the older Celtics.

The excitement and momentum of playing in front of their home crowd certainly didn’t hurt the strong start, and the Celtics rust from resting their starters didn’t help. Either way, Boston couldn’t stop the bleeding early. The C’s never got to the line and missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the first half (they finished 0-of-11 from beyond the arc).

Tickets sold out: Garnett’s poor first half played a massive role in the team falling behind by double digits. The Big Ticket was aggressive early, which normally translates to good things for the Celtics. Sunday night, however, KG shot 1-of-9 from the field in the first half. Call it a product of rust, but it would have been wise for Garnett to position himself deeper in the paint when his jumper wasn’t falling.

Meanwhile, Garnett’s adversary, Smith, scored 15 points (7-12 FG) and grabbed 11 boards in the first half alone.

Ray of Light: Game 1 went sour rather quickly for the C’s. While that’s certainly concerning,  a bigger issue is the health of Ray Allen. Last Wednesday, Doc Rivers pronounced Allen probable to play in Sunday night’s series opener, by Saturday the prognosis changed to doubtful, and when it came time to tip off the playoff run Allen was in a suit and tie.

The Celtics could very well survive this series against Atlanta and maybe beat the Derrick Rose-less Bulls without Allen, but Allen makes both of those feats easier.

Losing your cool: The Celtics undoubtedly will be holding their collective breath while awaiting the league’s ruling on Rondo bumping the official. There is a chance Boston could be without him for Game 2.

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