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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: LeBron James’ sixth foul a bad call 06.04.12 at 10:40 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to share his thoughts on the officiating and what Sunday’s win says about the Celtics.

‘€œI thought Boston, to re-gather themselves in overtime, with [Paul] Pierce fouling out, to take that body blow, withstand it and come up with the win was terrific mental toughness on their part,’€ Van Gundy said.

With both Pierce and LeBron James fouling out quickly into overtime, both on plays away from the ball, Van Gundy went on to discuss the officiating late in the game. Van Gundy took issue with the call that forced James to the sideline for the only the fourth time in his career.

‘€œI thought that was a foul on [Mickael] Pietrus, pulling [James] down, or at worst, a no-call,” Van Gundy said. “Let them both get up and play. Listen, I’€™m for more fouls, you know, seven fouls. I’€™m for sneezing so I don’€™t see Paul Pierce running into [Shane] Battier on an inconsequential [play], they didn’€™t even have the ball. I’€™m just not a fan of watching the last plays in that game, in such a dramatic, hard, hotly contested game with those two guys on the bench. Now, some of the fouls that people want to ignore have to be called, but I could see where a fan of both teams would not have liked the Pierce foul or the James foul because it didn’€™t involve the ball yet. It was just guys jostling for position.’€

Van Gundy argued that by doing a good job setting the tone early in games, officials could afford to use greater discretion when making calls late in games or in overtime.

‘€œI would tell you this, people who want the game called exactly the same way in the first quarter and the fourth quarter, I know I don’€™t want refereeing late in those games. There has to be a different level of certainty on those calls. In the first quarter you’€™re trying to establish a tone. Get the game called in the right manner. Let everyone know the amount of contact that’€™s going to be allowed. In the final three or four minutes of a close game I think referees have to have certainty that the play has an impact directly to giving a team an advantage.’€

As for whether he thinks officials should call plays differently for star players like James or Pierce, Van Gundy was emphatic.

‘€œNo. No, no, no, no. Who’€™s in the game doesn’€™t matter to me,” he said. “It’€™s the certainty of the call, I think late, that you want to make sure of. There’€™s no setting the tone, there’€™s no ‘have the game called exactly the same.’ If you’€™ve done your job, to me, as an officiating crew, how you called the game throughout the game sets the tone that everybody knows that you don’€™t have to clean up anything late, because the game has been managed well right from the start.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Van Gundy, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Paul Pierce has the last laugh on LeBron James at 4:47 am ET
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Cameras caught Paul Pierce breaking into a wide smile with 1:51 left in overtime as LeBron James was called for his sixth and final foul, getting disqualified for just the fourth time in his career, and the first time since April 2008.

It was also the first time in James’ career that he fouled out in the playoffs. Paul Pierce, on the other hand, fouled out for the third time in his last five playoff games dating back to Game 7 against Philadelphia. Pierce was called for his sixth just 38 seconds into overtime when he was called for running over Shane Battier on a cut across the lane.

“Oh, it was very frustrating,” Pierce said. “But it’s gratifying when you see the other star player fouling out, also.”

Pierce later added, “It was a cut, scratch, grab, hold, elbow-type of game. I mean nobody was going to give an edge. I’d say it’s a classic. You rarely see that, you rarely see that. You rarely see that when you’ve got two star players fouling out.

“This is probably going to be an instant classic-type of game,” said Pierce, who is now headed to Miami with the Eastern Conference finals tied, 2-2. “We have a chance of winning this series. It’s not going to be easy, a good old classic bar fight.

‘€œWords can’€™t even describe the type of game it is,” Pierce said. “I mean it’€™s a funny game, the way the ball bounces, the way things go. I mean, started out way up the big lead, to come back, and I was sitting there on the sideline in overtime, I was like, this is probably going to be an instant classic type of game. It was just like one team gets momentum and the other team just grabs it. I’€™m just glad we were on the winning side today.’€

Pierce laughed when asked where he thinks the series stands. He laughed because he’s very aware of the opportunity that lies ahead, starting with Game 5 in Miami.

‘€œIt’s even,” Pierce said. “We’ve got to win a game in Miami, of course. We have a chance of winning this series. It’€™s not going to be easy. It’s a good old classic bar fight. Going in to it, you [had] to expect every game to be like this. Coming down to the wire, both teams trying to find an edge. This was a great game today.

‘€œWe’ve won two in a row,” Pierce added. “We feel like we let Game 2 slip away. So, we fee like were playing a good momentum. But we’ve got to start playing for 48 minutes. We haven’€™t put together a 48 minute game yet. There’€™s no reason we shouldn’€™t have gotten to 100 points tonight after scoring 61 in the first half so were hoping we can put together a full game when we get down to Miami.’€

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Mickael Pietrus: The secret weapon against LeBron James at 4:16 am ET
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Before Red Auerbach kept Dwyane Wade from knocking down the potential game-winner 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime, Mickael Pietrus made sure Miami’s other superstar wouldn’t end it in regulation.

‘€œI 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.

‘€œThe 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.

‘€œIf 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.’€

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, LeBron James
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
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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.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade
Celtics-Heat Game 4: All about adjustments at 2:10 pm ET
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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.

But to do that, they will have to solve what the Celtics have been throwing at them – namely double-teams and various switches on coverage. Let Paul Pierce explain:

“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 »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade
Paul Pierce: ‘We needed a team effort’ 06.02.12 at 3:08 am ET
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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.

‘€œIt 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.

‘€œWe’€™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?

‘€œEvery 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.

‘€œIt 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.’€

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, NBA playoffs
Kevin Garnett: ‘At this point, it’s desperation, desperation basketball’ at 1:39 am ET
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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.

‘€œIt’€™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.

‘€œDesperation 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.’€

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, KG
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