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Greg Stiemsma: Just ‘another opportunity’ but this time the Steamer shines 05.22.12 at 12:08 am ET
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Brandon Bass wasn’t the only one coming into Game 5 who might have wondered where all his playing time went.

Greg Stiemsma was lost on the Celtics bench, while Ryan Hollins was spelling Kevin Garnett off the bench. Stiemsma was a DNP-Coach’s Decision on Friday night. He has eight, 11 and four minutes respectively in the first three games before a goose egg in Game 4.

But on Monday, maybe it was just as simple as Doc Rivers wanting to change the atmosphere as Stiemsma – not Hollins – came in for Garnett in the first quarter and the Sixers leading, 12-11.

So often in the series, and in the playoffs, when Garnett has come off the floor, the Celtics have struggled. But this time, while not pouring in 27 points like Bass did, Stiemsma was crucial in stabilizing the struggling Celtics bench, which lost Ray Allen to the starting lineup. Stiemsma came in with 5:46 left in the first and immediately paid dividends.

He didn’t register a block until 1:23 left in the quarter. It was actually his motion off the ball and rolls to the basket that made a difference. Imagine that – Stiemsma making offensive moves and Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo looking for him on cuts to the basket. In his first two minutes, Stiemsma hit a lay-up off a screen-and-roll from Pierce. He dunked on a baseline cut to the basket on a pass from Rondo and he connected on a jumper from 14 feet on a feed from Rondo.

‘€œTonight was another opportunity, its been like that the whole season,” Stiemsma said. “For the most part I think I’€™ve taken advantage of it and tonight was just another one of those nights where got some looks early, got myself going and I was just happy we won at the end.’€

“I just kind of went with the flow of the game, how it was going, if I missed my defense couple times early when we got those buckets, a layup and a dunk, it really slows the game down, really makes you feel a lot more comfortable.’€

Stiemsma didn’t do much in the second half. He didn’t need to as Bass took a spear to the heart of the 76ers and the Celtics carved out a 101-85 win in Game 5. But it was Stiemsma who gave the Celtics some life early on when the Sixers were looking and hoping to pull away for their second straight win in Boston.

How good was Stiemsma? He made all five shots he attempted and finished with 10 points, three blocks and two rebounds in 14 minutes.

‘€œIts playoff time so as long as we’€™re winning I’€™m happy,” Stiemsma said. “It’s tough to see us struggle, but at the same time I don’€™t feel like I was playing the same way I was at the end of the year, either. So it felt good to get out there and feel comfortable again.’€

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers: ‘We don’t think old’ 05.18.12 at 7:01 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Age is an attitude. And with these Celtics it’s a mindset that has served them incredibly well since they started 15-17.

Doc Rivers knew that, bad record or not, he would have to manage off days and game days much differently and more aggressively in terms of rest than he had in the past.

It paid off in a 24-10 finish to the season and a six-game win over the younger Hawks in the first round. They headed into Game 4 Friday with a 2-1 lead over the younger and more athletic Sixers. What’s the key?

“We don’t think old,” Rivers said in the hours leading up to Game 4. “We are what we are. We do know that. The rest is important for us but I think the rest is important for everybody. I don’t think it matters what age you are. Athletes require recovery. We understand that. We like to call it experience.”

Rivers said he’s been more aggressive in giving the team days off, like Thursday, the only off-day between Games 3 and 4.

“It forces you to,” Rivers said. “If we were younger, maybe we would do more. I don’t know if it helps you but it forces you to do things at times you wouldn’t do. We definitely take more days off this year probably than we ever have. I think the schedule and who we are has forced that action. Fortunately, most of the time, we have the common sense to do it.

“When we don’t practice guys still work on their games. We didn’t do anything [Thursday] but Kevin was over here shooting. Especially veterans, more than young guys, understand what they need to do to keep them in rhythm. I think young guys, days off are bad because I don’t think they don’t get that. I don’t think they understand. They think a day off is a day off. They don’t understand what what gets them to the next day or the next game.”

But Rivers doesn’t have that same concern with guys like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

“A lot of veteran guys, if they need a day off, they take it off,” Rivers said. “Ray rarely takes a day off. He’s running somewhere, down the street, riding a bike. Paul was on the treadmill yesterday at the hotel. But they have the experience and that’s an advantage for them.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA playoffs
Kevin Garnett and Celtics look to impose their will at 8:49 am ET
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We didn’€™t go to him. It’€™s plain and simple. My thought: we never established the post. I thought the second unit again established the post in the one stretch in the fourth quarter. Doc Rivers on Kevin Garnett after Game 2 loss to Sixers.

PHILADELPHIA — When Doc Rivers was asked about Kevin Garnett not getting enough shots in the fourth quarter of Game 2, Rivers sent out of his classic subliminal messages to his team.

Impose your will.

Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo all got the message loud and clear and routed the Sixers, 107-91, in Game 3. But to Garnett, who had 27 points and 13 rebounds, the key to success was about more than just wanting it more.

“It’s partially that, exerting your will over a team is big,” Garnett said. “But cutting down on mistakes, sticking to game plan, not making too many changes. Cutting down on mental mistakes is really what makes a series. The team that keeps turnovers down, most aggressive, imposes their will all those things factor. Every time I’ve been in a tough series, those things have been major factors. We just have to continue what we did in [Game 3], not only impose our will, stay defensively sound and like Paul said, take that first punch and be able to return it.”

Pierce and Garnett stood outside their team hotel on Thursday and were again asked if there’s the feeling that this is the final chance for the team to make a championship run.

“I think we realized that from Day 1 when we came in for preseason, training camp,” Pierce said. “I think the last couple of years we’ve been feeling like that. The [motivation] is trying to win another championship, regardless is this is going to be our last time together. KG in the last year of his contract, Ray in the last year of his contract, trade speculation that’s been going on to [Danny Ainge] talking about rebuilding. There’s definitely a renewed sense of urgency.”

“What he said,” Garnett joked when asked to offer additional comment. “The focus is the playoffs. I really haven’t given it much thought, to be honest. But I’m definitely aware of it. You give it some type of thought but at this point right now, it’s the playoffs.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: The day a nobody stopped Kevin Garnett 05.15.12 at 1:35 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett was coming off a two-game stretch in which he totaled 57 points on 39 shots, 25 rebounds and eight blocks while putting the finishing touches on the Hawks and painting a new masterpiece agains the 76ers, so why did the Celtics wait until it was too late to get their center involved again?

“Maybe we weren’t a smart team or a well-coached team, because that was obviously the game plan to go there,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show. “We were in transition a lot and never really got into our sets. That happens in games. You see it all the time, but it just took too long to get into it. It took too long to establish it. We used timeouts to get into it — we just never did.”

Garnett made his first two shots, an 11-footer 17 seconds in and a 16-footer 2:48 into the first quarter, capping the C’s 5-for-5 shooting stretch that gave them an 11-3 start. And they turned to him once over the next 26:54.

“KG’€™s an unselfish player,” said Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who recorded 13 assists, but only two to Garnett — including one on the meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer that resulted in the 82-81 final score. “He could’€™ve taken a lot more shots than he did, but he passed up his shots to get the assist or made the hockey pass. In the fourth quarter, over the stretch, when KG had it going, we just kept feeding him.”

As if flipping a switch, the Celtics leaned on Garnett in the fourth quarter. He made 5-of-7 shots and scored 11 of his 15 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists, while playing the final 12 minutes. In the span of a minute midway through the quarter, he made an 18-foot jumper to cut the deficit to two on one end; then defended Jrue Holiday, altered a Louis Williams shot and grabbed the rebound on the other; and tied the game 65-65 on a turnaround in the lane back on the offensive end. In other words, he was everywhere.

“I don’€™t call the plays,” said Garnett. “Doc and Rondo are trying to get guys into a rhythm, trying to keep the offense flowing. That’€™s what it is. Whatever he asked me to do, that’€™s what I’€™m going to do.”

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Why did the Celtics intentionally foul? at 12:02 pm ET
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Whenever there’s a discrepancy between the shot clock and game clock, NBA teams that trail by three points or less normally will play defense and try to get a stop. That was the situation the Celtics were in on Monday night, down 76-75 with 28 seconds left in Game 2 after a Ray Allen pull-up jumper misfired.

But the Sixers had a foul to give, so coach Doc Rivers instructed Rajon Rondo to intentionally foul Evan Turner with 14.4 seconds left in the game and 10 seconds left on the shot clock (the Celtics also had a foul to give). After Paul Pierce then fouled Turner again, the Sixers guard made both free throws with 12 seconds left.

“Obviously, if they didn’t have a foul to give we would’ve played the clock out,” Rivers said. “My thinking was, it would be a four-second differential. There’s no guarantee you’re going to get the rebound. By the time you rebound it’s probably three seconds, and then they have the foul to give, so they foul and now it’s down to two seconds.”

The error the Celtics made was in not fouling earlier. They let 10 seconds burn off the clock before Rivers called for the foul.

“That’s the mistake we made,” Rivers said on the Dennis & Callahan show.

It was one of several mistakes in execution the veteran Celtics made down the stretch. Most egregious was a possession with about a minute to go and the Celtics holding a one-point lead. They were trying to get Ray Allen coming off a screen, but Avery Bradley didn’t clear the corner and the play broke down, forcing Rondo to fire up a contested jump shot from the top of the key.

“It was a play we call elbow-X. We didn’t get into it,” Rivers said. “Rondo was frustrated because we didn’t get into it the correct way. Ray really was not open because the guy in the corner didn’t clear out of the way like he’s supposed to do. It was a wasted possession at a time when you can’t have one.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Doc Rivers, Evan Turner, Rajon Rondo
Doc Rivers picks up another award 05.14.12 at 6:36 pm ET
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The following should come as no surprise: Doc Rivers is very media friendly.

On Monday, the Professional Basketball Writers Association recognized this formally by announcing the Celtics head coach was voted the winner of the annual “Rudy Tomjanovich Award” – given to the head coach considered the most accessible to the media.

Rivers received 33 votes, topping a group that included Denver’€™s George Karl (13), Orlando’€™s Stan Van Gundy (9) and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle (2).

The PBWA also handed out two other awards. Phoenix Suns star point guard Steve Nash was announced as the winner of “The Magic Johnson Award” – the equivalent of Rivers’ award on the players’ side. The Milwaukee Bucks media relations staff was given the “Brian McIntyre Award” as the league’€™s most enterprising and helpful public relations staff.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Brian McIntyre, Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers: “Philly is Atlanta on steroids-if it’s a track meet that’s bad for us’ 05.12.12 at 7:26 pm ET
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Doc Rivers: “Philly is Atlanta on steroids. If it’s a track meet, that’s bad for us.”

There, in a nutshell, is the series plan for the Celtics. Doc Rivers said it on Friday at the team’s practice. He reiterated it Saturday, an hour before Game 1 with the quote above.

Make sure you don’t let one of the most athletic teams in the NBA get their groove on in transition.

There are two things they do extremely well. They defend and they don’t turn the ball over.

“I think what people keep forgetting is they’re not a good defensive team, they’re a great defensive team,” Rivers said. “They’re going to try to make us struggle scoring and we’re going to try and make them struggle scoring. If the game is 50-50, and close and competitive, I don’t know why that’s ugly. I’ve always argued against that. I guess 121-120 is more exciting. I think being competitive is more exciting.”

Many have speculated this will be one ugly series, with both teams clamping down on defense.

“It depends,” Rivers said. “I don’t know what ugly is. If we win, I don’t think that’s ugly at all. So, whatever you want to call ugly, if winning is part of it, I’m all for it.”

When the Sixers beat the Bulls in Game 6 Thursday night, about hour before the Celtics advanced, the cannons went off inside Wells Fargo Center, firing confetti all over the place.

“I was telling our guys, they were excited,” Rivers said. “They should be. They had to get over that hump. Being a No. 8 seed beating a No. 1 seed is big, it is a big deal. We look at the tape, we look at everything. They were excited. We were relieved. It’s amazing the two different [reactions].

“When the clock went off for us, guys were like, ‘Oh my gosh. Let’s go to bed.’ That’s kind of how we felt. You could almost say they have the emotional advantage in that because they were so high for their win. We have to match that.”

So, for the first time since 2002, when the Celtics eliminated the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Celtics and Sixers meet in the playoffs. Remember the last time? Game 5 of the best-of-5 at the Garden, the Celtics ran Allen Iverson and the Sixers off the court by 30 points. Rivers says he can appreciate the history between the two legendary NBA franchises.

“I can,” Rivers acknowledged. “I remember the ones with Dr. J. [Julius Erving]and [Larry Bird] and all that. Anytime you’re around Tommy [Tommy Heinsohn] and you mention Philadelphia, the hatred comes out. I think with Tommy, of all the teams, this is the team he wants to beat the most all the team. Regular season games, when you talk to Tommy on the plane, this is his target team. I’m sure he’ll be nice and calm covering the series.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dr. J
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