|Perkins: ‘Without [Rondo], we’d be dead’||05.08.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Between Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett alone, it has never been easy to pinpoint the best player on the Celtics. Throw the development of Rajon Rondo into the mix this season, and the task is even tougher.
It’s easy, though, for Kendrick Perkins. Not only does he consider Rondo to be the C’s top player, he also considers him their lifeline.
‘I think right now, he’s the best player on our team,’ Perkins told WEEI.com following practice on Saturday. ‘Without Rondo, nothing goes. Pretty much we’ve got to play him the whole game because he just runs the whole team. Without him, we’d be dead.’
Rondo is playing a team-high 41 minutes per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavaliers. His numbers have consistently improved from the regular season throughout the playoffs. In the first three games against the Cavs, he leads with team with 19.3 points and 13.0 assists, more than five points and three assists better than the regular season. He is also shooting 56.8 percent from the field and averaging 5.0 rebounds, more boards than Allen and Pierce.
‘I think he stepped up,’ said Perkins. ‘He’s been more focused than ever, in my opinion, and he’s been doing a great job of leading us.’
|Doc: ‘We’ve got to get stops’||at 4:31 pm ET|
‘Listen, if we’re going to talk about our offense when we just gave up 120 points, then we’ve got problems,’ he said after practice on Saturday. ‘That was not an offensive problem last night. That was a defensive problem. We score off our defense, off of getting stops, and if you’re going to take the ball out every time, you’re not scoring in the playoffs. You’ve got to get stops and multiple stops to score.’
The Celtics gave up 124 points to the Cavaliers on Friday, nearly 30 more points than their opponents’ regular season average. (In contrast, the C’s held the Heat to just 87.6 points per game in the first round victory.) The Cavaliers also shot a staggering 59.5 percent from the field in Game 3.
‘We’ve got to get stops,’ said Rivers. ‘We’ve got to make them miss. We’ve just got to make them miss shots. We know how to do that. I don’t think we had a lot of pressure on them. I thought they had us on our heels the entire game, and so we’ve got to get back up into them.’
|Fast Break: Celtics – Cavs||05.07.10 at 9:41 pm ET|
After a momentum building win in Game 2, the Celtics were crushed, 124-95 , by the Cavaliers on Friday in Boston. The Celtics never led and got down 6-0 early on. It was just the beginning of an offensive attack by the Cavaliers, who shot 59.5 percent from the field and 31-for-34 from the free throw line.
Defensively, the Celtics were ineffective on the glass. They were outrebounded, 45-30 (Antawn Jamison nabbed 12 boards). As a result, they were outscored 50-32 in the paint.
Player of the game: LeBron James led all players with 38 points (14/22 FG, 2/3 3PG, 8/9 FT), eight rebounds, and seven assists. He scored 21 points in the first quarter alone to set the tone early on.
Turning point: With the score Cavs 10, Celtics 8, Kendrick Perkins committed a flagrant foul against James five minutes into the first quarter. The Cavs then went on a 10-0 run (eight points from James) to build a lead they never surrendered.
First Quarter: Cavaliers 36, Celtics 17
James scored 21 points in the first quarter, four more than the entire Celtics team combined, to give the Cavs a 19-point lead. But James wasn’t the only problem for the Celtics early on. The C’s were outrebounded, 15-5. None of the starters grabbed more than one board, while Antawn Jamison nabbed six of his own. Paul Pierce played just nine minutes after shooting 0-for-5 from the field. James scored 14 points with Pierce on the court. Kendrick Perkins was also sidelined early, picking up two fouls including a flagrant committed on a James fast break.
Halftime: Cavaliers 65, Celtics 43
Even though James only scored 7 points in the second half, the Celtics still trailed the Cavs, 65-43. It is three more points than their first quarter deficit. James led all players at the half with 28 points (11/15 FG, 1/1 3PG, 5/5 FT) in 20 minutes. Rondo (6/13 FG) and Garnett (5/7 FG) scored 12 points apiece for the Celtics. After going scoreless in the first quarter, Pierce scored seven in the second. James’ scoring aside, the most glaring stat was on the defensive end. The Cavs had a 25-10 advantage on the boards. James had eight, one more than the Celtics starting five combined.
Third Quarter: Cavaliers 96, Celtics 70
The Cavaliers’ dominance continued in the third quarter, as they took a 96-70 lead going into the final 12 minutes. James scored another seven points to bring his total to 35 points through three quarters. The Celtics got their biggest offensive spark from Nate Robinson, who scored eight points (2/3 FG, 2/2 3PG, 2/2 FT) in three minutes off the bench. Rondo and Garnett still led the C’s (16 points apiece), but both players only scored four in the quarter. The Celtics were outrebounded by 20 boards, 34-14. Antawn Jamison recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The question at the end of the quarter was whether Doc Rivers would turn to the bench or play the starters for a final push.
Fourth Quarter: Cavaliers 124, Celtics 95
The Cavaliers led by over 30 points but it might as well have been a three-point game with all the tension on the court. There were hard fouls, technical fouls, and arguments over fouls that Celtics fans took offense too. Garnett got T’ed up after getting tangled up with Anderson Varejao under the basket following a free throw. Varejao was assessed a loose ball foul. Even though that call prompted boos, the loudest jeers were heard when James argued a hard foul committed by Robinson with the Cavs up 27 points. Both teams turned to their bench late in the fourth as the Cavs easily walked away with the win.
|Celtics focus on starting small||at 7:11 pm ET|
The Celtics believe if they can end up with big results by starting small.
Their game plan is to focus on the little things that, when executed properly, can result in an advantage in the long run. They are also the things that could wind up hurting them if ignored.
‘I think it just boils down to small things,’ Ray Allen said before Game 3. ‘Just building the small things in the game. Don’t worry about whether the ball goes in, but more importantly moving the ball, keeping turnovers to a minimum, and then getting back on defense.’
The Celtics have paid attention to those details so far. They are outrebounding the Cavs, 226-197, picked off 10 more steals, and committed two less turnovers in the first two games of the series.
‘All those that things, they ultimately add up to getting buckets,’ said Allen. ‘But those habits, if we keep those habits, you start small and as the game goes, the game is being played the right way on both ends.’
|Sheed takes heed from Garnett||05.04.10 at 11:46 pm ET|
Turns out, Rivers wasn’t the only one who wanted to see Wallace step up. Kevin Garnett also believed Wallace was critical to the Celtics postseason success, and he made it a point to tell him that.
‘After the first game, I went to him in the shower and I said, ‘In order for us to beat this team, man, it’s going to take not just the starting five. It’s going to take Rasheed, it’s going to take Tony Allen, it’s going to take Marquis (Daniels), Big Baby (Glen Davis), Shelden Williams, everybody, Nate Robinson. It’s going to take everybody who’s on that bench,’ Garnett told WEEI’s Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell following the C’s Game 2 victory on Monday (listen to the audio here).
Garnett has known his teammate long enough to understand his receptiveness ‘ or lack thereof ‘ to feedback. But fortunately for Garnett, who was in the 1995 NBA draft class with Wallace, he is on that short list.
‘I went to him personally, you know, he don’t really listen to a lot of people,’ Garnett explained. “Sheed sort of goes by his own tune and he only respects a few, and I’m one of the very few that he listens to and that he respects. And I went to him and I said, ‘If you give us 10 and 10, we’re going to not only beat these Cavs, but we’re going to blow them out.’ I said, ‘I need 10 and 10 every night with you, at least in this series right here.’”
Wallace shot just 1-for-5 and recorded more fouls than points in Game 1. But Garnett knew what Wallace was capable of, in spite of a disappointing regular season in which he averaged nine points, four rebounds, shot 28 percent from 3-point range, and was assessed numerous technical fouls and fines. He wanted Wallace to put that behind him, focus on the postseason series at hand, and provide the Celtics with a solid contribution off the bench.
‘I said, ‘I don’t care what you’ve been going through. To hell with what the year is. So what? You can make it all up right here,’’ Garnett recounted. ‘And I got into him a little bit. I rubbed him the wrong way a little bit. And then later on we talked. He said, ‘You’re right.’’
Whatever the driving force may have been, Wallace stepped onto the court in Game 2 and gave one of his best performances in a Celtics uniform. He scored an efficient 17 points (7-for-8 on field goals and 3-for-4 on threes) in 18 minutes. Even though Wallace didn’t do anything fancy, it was just what the Celtics needed.
‘It was just good to see results,’ said Garnett. ‘He’s a gutty veteran, he knows how to play, and it was just big. He was big for us.’
|Fast Break: Celtics – Cavs||05.03.10 at 11:02 pm ET|
The Celtics bounced back from their Game 1 loss with a 104-86 victory over the Cavs in Game 2 in Cleveland. They will head back to Boston on Friday for Game 3 with the series split, 1-1.
LeBron James gave credit to his teammates when he was awarded the MVP trophy before the game, but it was the Celtics that won with a total team effort. All of the starters scored in double-digits, Rajon Rondo dished 19 assists, and Rasheed Wallace provided a critical spark off the bench with 17 points in just 18 minutes.
On the defensive end, the Celtics held James to 24 points (13 through three quarters). The C’s also outrebounded the Cavs, 43-29.
First Quarter: Celtics 26 – Cavaliers 22
First quarter key stats
Field goal percentage: Celtics 66.7% – Cavaliers 37.5%
Turnovers: Celtics 7 – Cavaliers 3
Doc River said Rasheed Wallace had to play better. It took just a few seconds to show he had listened. Wallace replaced Kendrick Perkins in the first quarter and hit his first basket (a jumper) less than a minute later. He posted 5 points and 1 rebound in two minutes. The Celtics were successful in containing LeBron James (3 points, 1-4 FG), but the team committed seven turnovers in the quarter, giving up some of their defensive edge. Paul Pierce picked up two fouls in 10 seconds – one trying to stop James at the basket, the other an offensive call against Anthony Parker. Rajon Rondo quieted the Cavs crowd with a 3-pointer as time ran down to push the C’s lead up to four.
Second Quarter: Celtics 52 – Cavaliers 48
First half leading scorers
Celtics: Rasheed Wallace – 13 points (5-5 FG, 3-3 3PG)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 11 points (4-6 FG, 1-2 3PG, 2-4 FT)
First half key stats
Turnovers: Celtics 10 – Cavaliers 7
Fouls: Celtics 16 – Cavaliers 4
Wallace carried his momentum into the second quarter, scoring five minutes in the first four minutes. Even though the C’s opened the quarter on a 9-0 run to push their lead up to 35-22, the Cavs responded with a 10-3 stretch of their own to gain momentum. In spite of only eight points from James, the combination of Celtics turnovers and fouls allowed the Cavs to make their way back into the game. The Celtics committed 16 first half fouls, as well as 10 turnovers. Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Tony Allen had three fouls at halftime.
Third Quarter: Celtics 83 – Cavaliers 60
Leading scorers through three quarters
Celtics: Ray Allen – 20 points (7-11 FG, 3-5 3PG, 3-4 FT)
Cavs: Antawn Jamison – 13 points (5-8 FG), 1-2 3PG, 2-4 FT)
Key stats through three quarters
Turnovers: Celtics 14 – Cavaliers 12
Fouls: Celtics 20 – Cavaliers 10
After the Celtics got outscored, 36-24, in the third quarter of Game 1, they responded in Game 2 with a third quarter push of their own. The C’s outscored the Cavs 31-12, to take a 23-point lead. Records were reached and tempers flared during the stretch. Rondo tied Bob Cousy‘s franchise mark with 19 assists in a postseason game. Kendrick Perkins and Anderson Varejao were issued double technicals when things got heated following the whistle. Minutes later, Varejao was called for a technical as Ray Allen drove to the basket. The Celtics committed just four fouls in the quarter, compared to 16 in the first half.
Final Score: Celtics 104 – Cavs 86
Celtics: Ray Allen – 22 points (8-15 FG, 3-7 3PG, 3-4 FT)
Cavs: LeBron James – 24 points (7-15 FG, 0-4 3PG, 10-15 FT)
Assists: Celtics 30 – Cavs 17 (Rondo, 19)
Fouls: Celtics 31 – Cavs 16
The Cavs diminished a 25-point lead with a 15-0 run late in the fourth quarter and got within nine points. The C’s went scoreless for over five minutes before Pierce snapped the skid. Doc Rivers called a timeout to group his team, which responded with an 11-5 run to end the game. Even though the Celtics were outscored, 26-21, in the final 12 minutes, they held on for an 18-point win. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 22 points, and it was Wallace who provided a huge spark with 17 points off the bench.
|Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs||at 10:12 pm ET|
Key stats through three quarters
Turnovers: Celtics 14 – Cavaliers 12
Fouls: Celtics 20 – Cavaliers 10
After the Celtics got outscored, 36-24, in the third quarter of Game 1, they responded in Game 2 with a third quarter push of their own. The C’s outscored the Cavs 31-12, to take a 23-point lead. Records were reached and tempers flared during the stretch. Rajon Rondo tied Bob Cousy’s franchise mark with 19 assists in a postseason game. Kendrick Perkins and Anderson Varejao were issued double technicals when things got heated following the whistle. Minutes later, Varejao was called for a technical as Ray Allen drove to the basket. The Celtics committed just four fouls in the quarter, compared to 16 in the first half.