|Shootaround notes: Last minute checklist||05.03.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
MIAMI — As they head into Game 2, both the Celtics and Heat feel that they didn’t play their best in the opener and while there will be strategic adjustments on both sides, the sense is that both teams simply want to play their game better.
“As poorly as we played and they didn’t necessary play terrific either, you can clearly say some of it was due to their defense,” Doc Rivers said before the team’s shootaround. “It wasn’t just us being bad. There’s somebody out there making you be bad and they had a lot to do with it.”
On the Celtics to-do list are guard the 3-point line better, particularly James Jones who made 5-of-7 from behind the arc and keep Miami off the free throw line. Offensively, Rivers felt his team rushed and put themselves in a bad position.
“They’ll respond,” Rivers said of his team. “We’re usually a pretty good team in execution and we just were not. I was just surprised how impatient we were offensively. When you become impatient that makes you easy to guard. I think we were very easy to guard.”
“We’ve tried to exercise our mental disciple to maintain our mental edge,” he said. “It’s two physical teams, two very good defensive teams. There will be times when both teams struggle to score. Whoever can say that consistently played their game will likely win the basketball game.”
As for the prospect of going down 2-0 in this series, something that has never happened in the Big 3 era, Kevin Garnett said that the Celtics were not thinking that way.
“You take one game at a time,” Garnett said. “Each game you learn something from it and you try to apply what you’ve learned to the next game. Obviously [1-1] is always good but you go 0-2 against a great team it’s very hard.”
Expect both teams to be sharper in Game 2 and that’s when we’ll really find out if one team had the advantage.
“That will happen,” Rivers said. “It may happen tonight. I think one or two games you’ll get the best shot from each team and somebody will win that game.”
SHAQ UPDATE: Rivers said that Shaquille O’Neal looked good in practice on Monday in stretches but struggled at the end. the coach termed him doubtful for Game 2, but it will be a game-time decision.
“I doubt it,” Rivers said. “He looked great yesterday. He went through the whole practice. He was phenomenal actually. He had one stretch that was phenomenal. Then by the end of the practice he was struggling walking. We’ll see but I would say Game 3 is becoming likely. Game 2, were not sure but I doubt it.”
Rivers said that it was O’Neal’s first scrimmage since his seven-minute comeback against Detroit on April 3. That was encouraging, but, “Watching him walk on the bus and even this morning said the recovery time is tough for him,” Rivers said.
|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.”
|Heat practice notes: Who you calling physical?||at 4:55 pm ET|
MIAMI — The question was posed to various Heat players from about six different angles, but it really all boiled down to this: Are you surprised by the Celtics reaction after Game 1 that your play was (pick one) chippy, physical or cheap?
“I didn’t see us start anything,” LeBron James said. “I don’t understand what all the other conversation is about. We just want to play basketball. Go out there we’re going to be physical, the best team will win the game that night. That’s all it’s about.”
Added Dwyane Wade, “At the end of the day it’s basketball. No one’s going to be out there doing anything crazy. Ain’t no fighting going on. It’s basketball and the guys are going to be physical and they’re going to take hard fouls. You just got to move on from it.”
James Jones: “It’s all in the game. We’re trying to keep it strictly about basketball. Whenever you have emotionally charged guys on the floor, two very high caliber teams battling and competing, you always have something. No one wants to give an inch.”
Your turn, Erik Spoelstra: “We’re not trying to be somebody we’re not. We’re not stepping out of our box.”
It was left to Wade to add a little levity to the questions. “I haven’t been in the second round in a long time but I’m assuming this is how it is,’ he said. “Maybe I’ve been out of the loop for a while. If they win a ballgame it will be a total different spin on things.”
So there you have it. The Heat are going to be physical. We know the Celtics will try to be more aggressive in Game 2. There will be hard fouls. There will probably be a few technicals. It is, after all, the playoffs and while the Celtics made their names by playing rough and tumble defense, the Heat are making their own reputation on that end of the floor. Paul Pierce will not be suspended for Game 2 after his ejection, which featured a face-shove with Jones, and everyone will all move on.
Beyond that storyline, there are adjustments and tweaks to be made. The Heat were generally pleased with how they performed in their 99-90 Game 1 victory, but also felt like they had a lot to clean up. Spoelstra is still very concerned about Rajon Rondo who was held to just seven points and seven assists, but acknowledged that a good deal of that was the foul trouble that sent Rondo to the bench in the second quarter.
“I’m not overstating it,” Spoelstra said..”When he was in more of a rhythm in the second half he made a big impact. He’ll break you down, he’ll find a way. When it gets broken down all rules are thrown out the window and you have to do something with an effort ‘ a deflection, a rotation, to transcend all of that.”
After the game Rondo noted that he had his shot blocked several times from the weakside as he drove to the basket.
“LeBron and [Joel] Anthony came and blocked my shots. I got a lot of my shots blocked tonight,” Rondo said. “Give them credit. On the fast break they did a good job pursuing the ball.”
Rondo was disappointed with his play and not just because of the foul trouble, citing turnovers and missed opportunities. He remains the biggest key to the series, but here are a few other items of concern for Miami.
FLOOR SPACING: How did James Jones get so open for his 3-pointers? First, the Heat took advantage of matchups and got him on the move. Second, he found the right areas that were clear to set up and third, his teammates got him the ball.
“They do a tremendous job of protecting the paint so when our attackers put the ball on the floor there’s usually at least two help defenders putting their bodies in front of drivers,” Spoelstra said. “So J.J. was able to get in open areas. Spacing is going to be critical for our offense. Executing our second and third options will be paramount because both teams defend the first trigger very well.”
The Celtics overload the ball with defenders and put pressure on the ballhandler to make snap decisions. Some teams try to beat the defense by passing to the weakside, which is the vulnerable area on the court. The Heat made a concerted effort to drive and attack the defense at its strongest point. Not many teams can do that, but Miami has the talent.
Once Miami goes into its rotations, pay close attention to how the Celtics counter. They were left with some strange combinations like Kevin Garnett chasing Jones. Spoelstra cited the play of Mike Miller, who was on the floor when Miami made a big run in the second quarter and added size on the wing. “They were short minutes but they were productive minutes,” Spoelstra said.
DEFENDING RAY ALLEN: Wade was the biggest offensive star on the court with 38 points, but Ray Allen had a big night as well with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 5-for-8 on his 3-pointers.
“My job is to chase Ray Allen around, hoping he gets tired one day and misses a shot,” Wade said.
In response to a particularly difficult 3 that Allen made, Wade said, “Only Ray Allen can make that shot. Nobody else. I looked at the film and realized I made three mistakes and every one resulted in a 3. That’s why he is who he is and why he’s great.”
CHRIS BOSH LOOKS TO GET GOING: On the one hand, Bosh scored just seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. On the other, Kevin Garnett scored six points on 3-for-9 shooting. You can call it a wash, but that’s a matchup the Celtics need to win if they’re going to take Game 2. Bosh said the key was keeping his emotions in check.
“I’ve been in so many situations where I let my emotions get the best of me and I let that anxiety get the best of me,” he said. “I’m at a point where I just relax no matter what the situation is and just play the game.”
UPDATE: Pierce will not be suspended or face further disciplinary action, according to league official.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Paul Pierce – who declined to speak to reporters following Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat — met with the media before the Celtics‘ practice Tuesday on the campus of the University of Miami. Pierce was ejected on Sunday after picking up his second technical foul, which was assessed after he exchanged words with Dwyane Wade following an attempt by Wade to run through a screen set by Pierce.
But it was the first technical called on Pierce that has raised the idea that action from the NBA might be administered. Pierce appeared to attempt a head-butt on James Jones after the Miami swingman aggressively fouled Pierce. Pierce told the media that he expected to hear from the NBA sometime on Monday, but didn’t feel his actions warranted further action. He did, however, admit that there is always worry whenever the league is investigating the possibility of discipline.
“It’s always a concern when things happen,” Pierce said. “Right now it’s out of my control, they are going to view it the how they view it and come to a decision. I’m definitely worried because if it’s a situation where it hurts my team, then it was very selfish. It was selfish of me last night but it’ll hurt even more if the league cam with the decision to suspend me, if that’s what they thought they saw.”
Pierce — who said he was “surprised at getting kicked out” — agreed with Doc Rivers, who in his postgame press conference Sunday suggested that both Jones and Wade should have received flagrant fouls.
“I probably overreacted,” Pierce said. “Thought I was fouled excessively on both play. I thought it should have been a flagrant on both plays. But it’s up to me to keep my composure. The referees called what they saw. I need to do a better job keeping my composure. That’s it.”
|Heat pregame notes: Mike Miller active, Udonis Haslem out||05.01.11 at 3:10 pm ET|
MIAMI — Not a single Heat player spoke to the media before the game. More accurately, not a single Heat player was in the locker room during the media availability portion of the proceedings.
“We’ve been pushing his workouts a little bit more, but he’s not there yet,” said Spoelstra.
Mike Miller — who missed the last three games of the first-round series win over the 76ers with a left thumb injury — is active today.
“I had every eyeball in the gym watching him all week long, and I told him that,” said Spoelstra of Miller, who played just 41 games in the regular season. “He’s able to play. How much will depend on the game, but he’s been a true professional about it.”
Dwyane Wade was dramatically outplayed by Ray Allen this season in the four Miami-Boston contests, as Wade averaged just 12.8 points on 28.1 percent shooting vs. Allen’s 20.3 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting.
“We need Dwyane to be effective, we need him to score,” said Spoelstra. “More so than any other player I’ve ever been around, he can figure defenses out. … So now he’s had more time to see how Boston has played him. The first two games, not an excuse, you have to give Boston credit for defense, but he was just coming back. He’ll be able to figure it out and strike the balance of being aggressive at some points for us, but also showing the poise that he showed last game.”
|Carlos Arroyo active for Game 1, Shaq gets closer||at 3:09 pm ET|
“He knows this team,” Doc Rivers said. “He was in their training camp. He was in their practice. He knows their personnel. I just thought he may be able to help us in some way.”
As for Shaq, Rivers said that he remains a possibility for Game 2, if not Game 3 back in Boston.
“He’s getting close,” Rivers said. “We actually had to make a decision so that’s better than what we had to do in the past. Maybe next game, if not I would say for sure Game 3.”
|Celtics will pay close attention to Chris Bosh||04.29.11 at 1:43 pm ET|
The Celtics know all about LeBron James and they have dealt with Dwyane Wade in the playoffs before, but they will also be paying close attention to Chris Bosh in their conference semifinal series and for good reason.
“When Bosh plays really well they blow teams out,” Kevin Garnett said. “It’s not even close.”
Bosh averaged almost 20 points and nine rebounds in Miami’s first round series against Philadelphia. He had monster performances in the first two games of the series and then came up big in the close-out game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. In the one game Miami lost he was held to just 12 points and five rebounds.
“LeBron and Wade are going to be LeBron and Wade,” Doc Rivers said. “They were great before the series, they’ll be great during it and they’ll be great after it and this summer when you’re talking about it you’ll say LeBron and Wade are great players. That’s not going to chance. But when Bosh plays great, then their team plays great. He’s a key guy for them.”
What makes Bosh so tough is he can score inside as well as on the perimeter. In his first season with Miami his attempts inside of 10 feet decreased by more than three per game, but he shot over 45 percent from 16-23 feet. Getting him more involved has been a persistent theme for Miami this season.
“He stretches the floor,” Rivers said. “They’ve done a better job in the second half of the year involving him more. He’s part of their offense more. When you look at the Philly series when he plays well in those games they won and when he struggled they didn’t win. He’s just a tough guy to guard. He does have the ability to go out to the 3-point line.”
“I consider him like a European player almost because he’s so big and he can shoot, dribble and things like that,” Glen Davis said. “You just have to be physical with him and make sure he doesn’t have it easy. Make sure everything is tough for him. Make him earn every shot. Make him earn every layup and things like that.”
Garnett and Davis will draw the primary defensive assignment, which Garnett likened somewhat to playing Amar’e Stoudemire.
“For Baby and myself and all the guys who played Stoudemire, New York was actually a good series, sort of warmed us up,” Garnett said. “Two totally different guys. Bosh is a little more perimeter than Stoudemire. But again he can score in different ways and they get the ball to him, so we got our work cut out for us.”
Rivers said he was more confident on Friday that Shaquille O’Neal would be able to play in the series. “I don’t know when,” he said. “Maybe [Game 1]. Maybe two. But I do think he’ll play. [Trainer Eddie Lacerte is] more confident that he’ll play, so that makes me more confident.
If he does play, Rivers said that he would come off the bench. “When he walks on the floor he’s 7-feet tall and he weighs what he weigh,” Rivers said. “Of all our players he probably has the easiest task of being who they are, because that’s all he can be.”
Rajon Rondo had little to say when he talked to the press before practice, but he did say that whatever defensive gameplan the Heat come up for with him, he’s probably seen it before. “I don’t know, everybody plays differently,” he said. “We’ll see Game 1.”
Whoever winds up drawing the assignment, the Celtics just want Rondo to continue playing fast. “Just need Shorty to be aggressive,” Garnett said. “Rondo’s a pain when he’s aggressive. When he’s stacking the stat line he’s a problem to deal with and we’re a problem to deal with.”
THE PAST IS THE PAST
The Celtics won three games against Miami, but were blown out in the final meeting. Each game made for great copy, but they say it means little now. “Not with us,” Garnett said. “The playoffs is a new season, new situation, new scenarios so everything we’ve done up to this point is just history.