|On 25th anniversary, looking back at Larry Bird’s famous steal vs. Pistons||05.25.12 at 10:37 am ET|
Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of not only one of the greatest plays in Boston sports history, but one of the most memorable moments in NBA history.
In Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals at the Boston Garden against the Pistons, Celtics forward Larry Bird added on to his legend, turning an almost sure defeat in a pivotal game into a stunning victory in the matter of seconds.
With the C’s trailing by a point in the closing seconds, Bird drove the lane and had his shot blocked by Dennis Rodman. With the ball heading out of bounds, Celtics guard Jerry Sichting tried to save it, but it was knocked off his body and the Pistons received possession, setting up the theatrics. With five seconds left, Isiah Thomas hurriedly tried to inbound the ball and lobbed a pass to Bill Laimbeer, who was standing on the baseline near the Celtics basket.
What Thomas didn’t see was Bird, who timed the pass perfectly and flew in from his position at the top of the key to steal the ball, a remarkable play that gave the Celtics sudden life with the final seconds winding down.
“Isiah’s pass just hung up there,” Bird recalled in a 2009 ESPN story about the play. “It seemed to take forever to get to Laimbeer. [After stealing the pass], I was thinking about shooting, but the ball was going the other way and so was my momentum.”
Narrowly avoiding falling out of bounds, Bird found Dennis Johnson streaking down the lane and sent him the pass. Johnson grabbed it and without hesitation laid the ball off the backboard and in as the Celtics took an improbable 108-107 lead with one second left.
|Mike Gorman on D&C: ‘I’ve never been around a more unpredictable team’||05.22.12 at 10:20 am ET|
Longtime Celtics broadcaster Mike Gorman joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the latest on the Celtics in the wake of their Game 5 victory over the 76ers Monday night.
The personality of the Celtics has been a hot topic of discussion this postseason — mainly their inconsistency. Gorman has been left perplexed and couldn’t offer a concrete answer to the team’s unpredictability.
“I’ve never been around a more unpredictable team. I have no idea what they’re going to do from one quarter to another let alone what they’re going to do from one game to another,” Gorman said, adding: “In the 30-plus years that I’ve been [broadcasting], I’m as perplexed by this team as I’ve been by any in terms of how I think they’re going to play.
“They could go into Philly tomorrow night and win by 18 or lose by 18, and neither one would surprise me.”
One game after a Game 4 collapse in which they blew an 18-point lead, the Celtics seemed to start out flat in the first half before kicking into gear in the second half and ultimately blowing out the 76ers behind a standout performance from Brandon Bass.
“The Celtics were flat last night, I don’t there’s any question about that,” Gorman said. “I sent a text to Doc [Rivers] when I was driving home last night saying, ‘I don’t know what the hell you said at halftime, but you have to save that.’ And he sent me back, ‘I’m not sure what I said either, but it worked.’
“That’s been a problem with this team all year long and will continue to be a problem. They’re capable of beating anybody or losing to anybody on a given night.”
|Down the stretch: How the Hawks and Celtics schedules play out||04.15.12 at 10:07 am ET|
It’s looking more and more likely that the Celtics will play Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs.
With the C’s closing in on the Atlantic Division title, they are guaranteed to be no lower than the fourth seed. The Hawks, meanwhile, have a one-game lead on Orlando for fifth and the Magic will be without center Dwight Howard for the next 10-14 days with a herniated disk in his back.
Entering play on Sunday, the Celtics (35-25) are a game back of Atlanta (35-24) in the loss column, thanks to their brutal loss to Toronto on Friday night. If the Hawks finish with a better record, they would get homecourt advantage in the first round. If the two teams are tied, the Celtics would own the tiebeaker by virtue of their winning the Atlantic Division.
With that in mind, here’s how their respective schedules play out:
Sunday: At Charlotte
Tuesday: At New York
Friday: At Atlanta
Tue. April 24: Miami
Thur. April 26: Milwaukee
Monday: At Toronto
Sunday: New York
Tue. April 24: Clippers
Thur. April 26 Dallas
Two things stand out. One, the Hawks play six of their seven games at home where they are 19-8. Second, this Friday’s game in Atlanta is shaping up to be extremely important. The Celtics have won both meetings this season but only by a total of five points.
|Fast Break: Celtics send Blazers to R.I.P City||03.09.12 at 9:48 pm ET|
After getting blown out by Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Celtics needed some momentum heading into their eight-game road trip. Fortunately, the Trail Blazers were in town and they brought their considerable baggage to the floor with them.
It was uncomfortable watching a team so completely unravel, but the Celtics weren’t complaining after taking a 35-point halftime lead in a 104-86. Portland had 16 turnovers in the first half, forced only two and watched time and again as various Celtics flew down the lane for layups and dunks.
The Celtics will start an eight-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Not settling: It wasn’t clear immediately that the Blazers were in full ship be sinking mode, but the Celtics didn’t waste any time finding out. Rajon Rondo and Pierce attacked the rim right from the start and once they realized Portland wasn’t going to put up a fight, it was open season on the basket.
Sasha Pavlovic has the cure for the second quarter blues: The veteran swingman hit a 3 on the team’s first possession and then got fouled on a breakaway layup. Pavlovic scored eight points in the quarter and the Celtics scored 18 of the first 20 points. It was 45-19 after six minutes and 38-13 for the quarter.
Save those legs: Kevin Garnett made all five of his shots and played just 20 minutes. Allen, Pierce and Rondo clocked in with just 26 apiece. They needed that.
Bench production: Avery Bradley scored 10 points and had five assists. Greg Stiemsma missed all nine shots he took, but he had seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Pavlovic added 10 points and it was the bench’s best performance in weeks, even without Mickael Pietrus (knee) and Chris Wilcox (personal reasons).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Injuries, again: Pietrus has struggled with his shot lately, but coach Doc Rivers revealed before the game that his problems are related to a knee injury. Pietrus tried to play through it on Wednesday against Philly and Rivers acknowledged before Friday’s game that he would have liked to have had that back. The hope is that Pietrus will be available for Sunday’s game against the Lakers, but that’s far from given.
|Report: Knicks have interest in Lawrence Frank||07.18.11 at 5:25 pm ET|
Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank has interviewed with Houston, Golden State, Toronto and now Detroit for their head coaching jobs and he is said to be one of two finalists for the Pistons job along with former Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
It’s no secret that Frank wants to be a head coach again. He had a fairly successful run with the Nets that stretched over seven seasons before coming to a screeching halt when the Nets began the year 0-16 in 2009-10. That said as much about New Jersey’s talent as Frank’s abilities as a coach.
In his one season with the Celtics, Frank was tasked with operating the team’s defense. They ranked first in fewest points allowed, second in field goal percentage defense and were in a virtual tie with the Bulls in terms of points per 100 possessions. He also had a solid rapport with the veteran players — no easy task.
It has been assumed that Frank would return if he couldn’t get a head-coaching job but the Celtics may have competition for his services.
The Knicks have been casting about for a defensive-minded assistant and Newsday’s Alan Hahn reports that Frank would be a good fit as he and head coach Mike D’Antoni have a good relationship and — unlike many coaches — he wouldn’t be bothered by working for a coach in the last year of his contract. Additionally, Hahn notes that Frank’s wife and daughters stayed in New Jersey while he was working in Boston.
Like head coach Doc Rivers, all of Boston’s assistants were working on one-year contracts last season. Team president Danny Ainge noted that while he expected Frank to get offers, the team would have interest in bringing him back.
|Paul Pierce strains left Achilles||05.03.11 at 11:51 pm ET|
MIAMI ‘ Paul Pierce strained his left Achilles tendon in the first quarter of Game 2 and had to go back to the locker room for a stretch. He returned soon after and scored 13 points in the Celtics‘ 102-91 loss. ‘It’s day to day right now,’ Pierce said. ‘We’ll see how it feels the next couple of days.’
Pierce said he wasn’t sure how the injury happened, but it was a problem for him. ‘When you strain your Achilles, every step is like a slight little pain,” he said. “It actually loosened up as I got back in there and it didn’t really affect me the rest of the game.’
Pierce wasn’t the only Celtic playing in pain. Rajon Rondo‘s back tightened up and Ray Allen was dealing with a bruised chest. ‘[Trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and Dr. [Brian] McKeon did a hell of a job today,’ Doc Rivers said. ‘We had a circus going on at one point. Ray needed to be taken to the locker room. Paul was coming out of the locker room. Rondo was asking to come out almost simultaneously. It was sketchy.’
|Doc Rivers: ‘I’ve got to do a better job of getting Kevin involved’||05.02.11 at 9:31 pm ET|
Doc Rivers wasn’t exactly jubilant after watching the film of Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat.
He talked before Monday’s practice about the importance of staying patient on offense — “very eager offensively and that hurt us ‘¦ we were pretty much a one-option team and very rarely worked the sets” — and the importance of keeping composure, something Paul Pierce failed to do in the fourth quarter.
Rivers stressed the need to do a better job on James Jones — “The fact that he took seven 3-pointers without taking a dribble, when you think about it, that’s poor defense” — and Dwyane Wade.
In short, it wasn’t quite a sneak peak of “The Hangover: Part II” in the old film room.
And when it came to analyzing his own effort after viewing the 99-90 loss again, Rivers pointed to one decision as perhaps his biggest error.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting Kevin [Garnett] involved,” Rivers said. “Kevin is one of our featured scorers and I didn’t think we did a good job with him at all.”
Indeed Garnett was an absolute non-factor on offense in Game 1, scoring just six points on 3-of-9 shooting. The Celtics made a concerted effort to get Garnett going early, posting him up on Chris Bosh on their first two possessions, but then went away from a matchup that the team looked at as a advantage heading into the series.
“We got Bosh on an early foul, and then we went seven straight plays before we decided to look back to that spot,” said Rivers. “That’s not like us to do that. That was a mistake.”
Garnett had plenty of success in four games vs. the Heat this season, averaging 16.5 points on 54 percent shooting. And coming off of a Game 4 win over the Knicks that saw Garnett score 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, it seemed a fairly obvious bet that the power forward would be heavily involved in the offense.
And as much as Rivers wanted to take the blame for Garnett’s lack of productivity, there is no question that the 14-time All-Star can be too unselfish at times. The Celtics want Garnett on the attack against Bosh, and that wasn’t the nearly the case in Game 1.
“I think we’ve just got to try to tell him to be aggressive when he gets the ball in the post,” said Rajon Rondo. “He is an unselfish guy, but we want him to be aggressive and take advantage of the matchup.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason