|Game 4 officials: Monty McCutchen, Tony Brothers, Derrick Stafford||05.09.11 at 11:58 am ET|
The NBA announced the referee crew for Game 4 of the Celtics‘ playoff series with the Heat, and it consists of Monty McCutchen, Tony Brothers and Derrick Stafford. Rodney Mott is the alternate.
McCutchen was on the TD Garden court for the Celtics’ 87-85 comeback victory over the Knicks in Game 1 of the first round on April 17. That game featured a couple a couple of controversial calls that went the Celtics’ way. McCutchen called Carmelo Anthony for an offensive foul for pushing off Paul Pierce while trying to get room to receive the ball with 21 seconds left and the Knicks holding a one-point lead. Then, when Knicks guard Toney Douglas tripped over Kevin Garnett‘s leg on a screen while Ray Allen hit the game-winning shot, no foul was called.
In the last three playoff games McCutchen has officiated this postseason (Mavericks-Trail Blazers on April 28, Hawks-Bulls on May 2, Mavericks-Lakers on May 4), the visiting team has won.
Brothers has refereed four games this postseason, all wins by the home team. He officiated the Heat in the first round, a 97-91 victory over the 76ers on April 27 that ended that series in five games.
Stafford will be officiating a Celtics game for the first time this postseason. According to former referee Tim Donaghy, Stafford has had some issues with the Heat in past years. Donaghy wrote in his book about his gambling problems that Stafford “despised Heat coach Pat Riley” in reference to a 2007 game between the Heat and Knicks, although Donaghy’s assertion that Stafford was biased in that game was debunked by reporters’ analysis. Riley now is Miami’s team president.
|Kevin Garnett’s blog: ‘You got a flash of what we got’||05.08.11 at 2:37 pm ET|
Fight night tonight! Big game tonight and props to my boy No. 9 [Rajon Rondo] fighting back from injury. Team was in sync and ball moved well. We got big stops when we needed it. P2 [Paul Pierce] fought through cramps tonight, so props to him as well. Thanks to ZICO [coconut water] for getting me through the fourth quarter! No cramps and felt good.
Having the Big Shamrock [Shaquille O’Neal] with us was big, and everyone played a role! If you watched the game, you got a flash of what we got left. Felt good and had on the new Antas!!!!
Keep believing in us and Reach higher.
Garnett’s 28 points in the 97-81 Game 3 victory against the Heat tied for his second-highest total in green — and best since the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals. His 18 rebounds set a new high for his Celtics career. As he did in his blog, Garnett deflected praise to his teammates in his postgame press conference.
“I’ve been in a zone, and that wasn’t it,” he said. “Man, I’ve been in a zone, and that wasn’t it. I had a nice rhythm going. Guys looked for me. I had Rondo and Paul encouraging me. Like I said, I’ve got to continue to be aggressive. It gives us a force and another source of scoring. At the same time, I can’t lose my focus on trying to slow [Chris] Bosh down and making sure that that is even ground.”
Equally as impressive as his offensive output was Garnett’s defense. He held Bosh to six points on 1-of-6 shooting and five rebounds in 30 minutes of Game 3 action. The Heat forward had averaged a double-double and outplayed Garnett in the first two games.
The doubters were out in force following Game 2 against the Heat when Kevin Garnett was held to six points and eight rebounds in over 37 minutes in a loss that put Boston in a 2-0 hole. This came after a fairly pedestrian 16 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes in a Game 1 loss.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra knew it was just a matter of time before Garnett exploded. Saturday night was that time – and specifically the third quarter. KG hit seven-of-eight shots from the field in scoring 14 of his game-high 28 in a 97-81 Game 3 win over the Heat.
‘Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That’s what it reminds me of,” Spoelstra beamed afterward. “He’s too proud of a player, talk about an MVP, one of the best players in this league, as soon as he stepped on the court as a rookie 14 years ago.”
Garnett added 18 rebounds to go with his 28 points on 13-of-20 shooting in 38 minutes.
‘I thought tonight I was just a lot more poised,” Garnett said. “Just as a unit, as a team we had a lot more energy. I felt like I’ve been nonexistent pretty much offensively in this series. Tonight was a little more focused on offense versus defense. I thought I did a good job of balancing out to be honest. I looked for my shot to be honest. They weren’t bringing a double team so I just took my opportunities and I was aggressive. That’s what I’ve got to be like for the rest of these series if not the whole playoffs.’
Still – to Spoelstra – he couldn’t help but think of Kareem when he saw KG Saturday night dismantle his team.
“For the revisionist out there, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when everyone threw dirt on him in the finals against Boston, he came out the next night and had 37 [points] and 15 [rebounds],” Spoelstra said of Kareem’s 1985 Game 2 performance that helped the Lakers beat the Celtics in six. For the record, Kareem had 30 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists, one steal and three blocks in a 109-102 win at Boston Garden.
“And while all this fuel was going on the last three days, I was cringing because you know this is a proud group, and you knew they would have a response which is fine. If we’re going to go where we want to go to, we have to outplay them when they are at their best. They’re going to be at their best, and we feel that our best game is good enough, and we were not at our best game tonight certainly, you have to give them credit.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Speaking with the Enemy: Celtics vs. Heat||05.06.11 at 2:36 pm ET|
In advance of Saturday night’s Game 3 between the Celtics and Heat at the TD Garden (8 p.m.), we caught up with David Dwork at the ‘Peninsula is Mightier‘ blog. He answered our six most pressing questions as the C’s attempt to climb their way out of a 2-0 hole …
How confident are Miami fans with this 2-0 lead against the Celtics?
I think that Heat fans are feeling pretty good after taking the first two games of the series. Considering our history against the Celtics over the past several years I think it’s safe to say that while there is some obvious confidence that comes with a 2-0 series lead, Miami fans are certainly wary of how quickly things can change. Heat fans do know, however, after watching this team grow and improve throughout the course of the season, that if they continue to play well and don’t fall into a funk, Miami should win this series.
Who gets credit for the Heat playing their best basketball at the right time?
No one person gets the credit for the Heat playing as well as they are. The team as a whole has been working extremely hard since training camp to get acclimated to playing with one another, learning the offensive playbook and defensive system that Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff put together — and doing it on the fly during the season, regardless of whether it was during practice, home games or on the road in very hostile environments. This has been a total team effort, and they all equally deserve credit.
Joel Anthony has been playing this role all season, and as he has done over the past few years he is only going to continue to get better. Whether it be in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, Anthony has been a defensive monster for Miami. Blocking shots and shutting down the painted area is what he has become known for, but his help defense is what has really gotten my attention in the postseason. Also, while he has a very limited offensive game, his hard work during practice and in the video room combined with his non-stop hustle has him suddenly setting picks like a seasoned veteran. He has quietly become an all-around defensive specialist and has earned the fans respect, getting chants of M-V-P.
Other role players such as James Jones, Mario Chalmers and even Mike Miller are finding ways to produce for the Heat and give them solid minutes on both ends of the floor. All three have shown they can hit big outside shots, but on this team you earn your stripes playing defense and that is where they have really stepped up their game.
What’s the difference between the Dwyane Wade we’re seeing now and the one that struggled against the Celtics in the regular season?
|Irish Coffee: Celtics must cash in at end of quarters||05.05.11 at 10:29 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
The Celtics were once the best closers in basketball — playing suffocating defense and precision offense to keep leads (or deficits) safe at the end of each 12 minutes. Now? Not so much.
As the whistle signaled the close of each of the first three quarters in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, it’s been Miami — not the Celtics — that has turned up the heat on both ends of the floor to stretch a lead the C’s had tried so hard to erase.
“One of our biggest strong points in our team and how we play the game is closing out quarters,” added Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen. “What we haven’t done in these past two games is close out the quarters well. Whether we’re down, whether we’re up, whether the game is tied, to finish quarters we have given them too many points. We have to be a lot more solid.”
The Celtics have been outscored at the end of each of the first three quarters in both losses — 99-90 in Game 1 and 102-91 in Game 2. In the last two minutes of those six quarters, the Heat have outscored the C’s by a total of 12 points. That advantage balloons to 22 when you look at the final three minutes or 32 points when you zoom out to four minutes.
Miami has beaten the Celtics 13-6 in the last three minutes of the first half in both matchups. In Game 1, the Heat stretched a 38-30 advantage into a 51-36 halftime lead. Then, in Game 2, the Celtics turned a 36-34 edge into a 47-42 halftime deficit. Each time, they never recovered.
“One of the things we clearly have to do a better job of is close out quarters,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters after Tuesday’s loss. “They closed out the first quarter on a run. They closed out the second quarter on a run. They closed out the third quarter, and then they closed out the game all on runs. We have to figure out a way of finishing quarters better than we did.”
|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.”
|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.
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