|Mickael Pietrus: The secret weapon against LeBron James||06.04.12 at 4:16 am ET|
‘I try to play tough, because you have to respect the jersey you’re playing for,” was all Pietrus would say about his pressure on LeBron James as the Miami power forward was jammed by Pietrus at the top of the circle as the clock wound down. Then Pietrus fed James off to the right, where there were two more Celtics waiting to help out.
Triple-teamed, James was forced to dump off to Udonis Haslem who missed a jumper at the buzzer, sending the game game to overtime, 89-89.
What was also remarkable about the play at the end of regulation was that the situation was identical to the end of Game 2. That’s when the Celtics got away with Rajon Rondo guarding a player eight inches taller when James missed a fallaway at the end of regulation. Doc Rivers wasn’t going to allow that to happen again. He put Pietrus on him and made sure he had help by funneling James into a triple-team.
Pietrus kept it up in the overtime. With Boston desperately trying to protect a one-point lead, the Celtics missed consecutive shots. But there was Pietrus flying in from the weak side and picking up the rebound to extend the Celtics possession. Those two rebounds took a total of 45 seconds off the clock at a most-critical time.
‘The last two were huge. Sometimes that’s what it takes to win basketball games,” Pietrus said. “You can always count on me if you want to win games. I’m going to play hard. That’s what I did for my team tonight. My main focus is to go to Miami now and try and get another win.
‘If I don’t have my shot I won’t get frustrated because I know we have legends on the floor. You have to respect them. As far as right now I’m trying to focus on what the team needs the most. From me that’s defense and rebounding.’
|Doc Rivers and Celtics: ‘Last year was last year… We don’t want a repeat of that’||06.03.12 at 7:14 pm ET|
Try as they might, the national and local media was unsuccessful in the 45 hours since the end of Friday’s Boston’s win over the Heat in Game 3 to draw the Celtics in to comparing last year to this year against LeBron James and company.
“I don’t even remember last year, to be honest with you,” said Paul Pierce when asked about the details of the 4-1 loss to the Heat in the Eastern semifinals last year.
“I don’t, really,” Doc Rivers said when asked if he recalled Boston winning Game 3 in 2011 before losing a heart-breaker in Game 4 in overtime. “I know we lost. I think that’s the game Rondo got injured but I’m not even sure of that. Oh, it was Game 3. I don’t even remember. That tells you what I remember.”
Indeed, the inspired Celtics overcame the dislocation of Rajon Rondo‘s left elbow in a collision with Dwyane Wade in Game 3. They had a great chance to tie the series when Ray Allen drilled a three to put the Celtics up, 84-81, with 2:28 left. But James hit a three of his own 28 seconds later and James hit a jumper to put Miami up, 86-84. Pierce hit a jumper to tie it, 86-86, with 41 seconds left. After a James turnover, the Celtics had the last 19.5 seconds left to win it. They had to settle for a missed fadeaway from Pierce with 0.9 seconds remaining. ‘
In that game, Kevin Garnett had seven points and made just 1-of-10 from the field in 41 minutes. That cannot happen again for the Celtics to win Game 4, something they failed to do in 2011.
“We just want to be consistent in how we play,” Pierce said. “Last year was last year. It’s over with. We don’t want a repeat of that so we just have to be consistent in everything we’re trying to do. We’re going to continue to try and get him the ball, get as many as touches out of him as possible. We know that’s been working for us. So, when Kevin gets it going from the inside, it really opens up things for a lot of us on the perimeter.”
The Celtics would be outscored 12-4 in overtime in the game that would essentially seal Boston’s playoff fate in five games.
“We had opportunities,” Rivers reflected. “Clearly, we had a couple of great shots. I think we had a terrible possession now that I think about it before overtime. Our last possession [of regulation]. Thanks for bringing that up.”
|Celtics-Heat Game 4: All about adjustments||at 2:10 pm ET|
WALTHAM — There’s little doubt the Heat will try to get Dwyane Wade more involved in Game 4 as they look to take a 3-1 series lead and have the chance to clinch the Eastern Conference finals at home on Tuesday in South Beach.
“We tried to collapse on him when he has the ball,” Pierce said. “He does a lot of isolation from the top [of the circle] so we just try to sink in. We know how great he can be driving to the hole in the half-court. When he comes off the pick-and-roll, we want to trap him as much as possible. We don’t really want to get him going. We know they’re going to get the majority of opportunities between him and LeBron but he’s one of the guys we feel like we can kind of corral with Kevin and myself with the size advantage that we have.”
Do things change if Chris Bosh returns?
“We haven’t seen that,” Pierce added. “We’ll make our adjustments definitely if Bosh is out there playing. You can’t trap as much because he’s another perimeter threat, another scoring threat. We’ll have to see.
“Always in-game decisions and adjustments are important, especially when things don’t work out. That’s part of the game. When one thing isn’t going right, you have to make that adjustment. We figure we have to get to their shooters. They made a lot of 3-point shots in Game 2 so that’s something we had to make an adjustment to get to the shooters a little bit better. We did a better job at that. We did a better job of keeping them out of the paint and did a better job of keeping them off the free throw line. So, every game is different. When you realize your mistakes, that’s when the adjustments come in.”
As for attacking Miami’s defense, even with LeBron James and Wade on the court, Pierce says they have to keep attacking the low post.
“I think we have the size advantage with [Kevin Garnett] and [Brandon Bass], especially when they go small a lot,” Pierce said. “The emphasis is to try to get the ball in the paint as much as possible and if they collapse, find our shooters. That’s been the thing the whole season, we want to play inside-to-out as long as they’re good shots.
“I thought we just moved the ball a lot better. The ball didn’t stick. They’re a great defensive team and when the ball is sticking on one side of the floor and they’re loading up. I thought the ball really moved. We set harder screens, we cut a little bit better and that frees up everybody when we play that way.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Celtics, Heat, fouls, free throws & facts||05.31.12 at 9:43 am ET|
Let’s take a page out of Doc Rivers‘ book and tread lightly on this matter. Two nights after declaring his technical foul — one of five called on the Celtics as a team — “the worst I’ve ever had,” the coach took umbrage with the officiating in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Heat once again.
“It is what it is,” he said in the aftermath of a stomach-punch, 115-111 overtime loss. “LeBron James took 24 free throws tonight and our team took 29. Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket.”
You can’t get fined if you stick with the facts. You can’t come across as blaming the referees if you shoot straight. At least that’s the hope. Here are 15 more facts about the Game 2 officiating. Read the rest of this entry »
Doc Rivers attempted to hide his frustration with the discrepancy in the fouls Wednesday night as the Celtics fell 115-111 in overtime to the Heat at American Airlines Arena. The Celtics were whistled for 33 fouls while the Heat were called for just 18 in 53 minutes of action.
“It is what it is,” Rivers said. “LeBron James took 24 free throws tonight and our team took 29. Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket. It’s just tough. We have to just keep playing. I tell our guys, ‘It doesn’t matter. We can’t get distracted.’ We will not get distracted in this series. I guarantee you, right now, they’re distracted, our team in the locker room but we have to get out of us and move on. Whatever happened, happened. We just have to move on and play the next game.”
Two key plays will stand out to Celtics fans who feel they were robbed of the chance to win Game 2. Pierce was called for his sixth and final foul with 1:05 when Dwyane Wade drove to the basket and turned his back into Pierce. Then, with the game tied, 105-105, and 1:35 left in overtime, replays show Rondo was raked across the face on a drive to the basket by Wade. There was no call as the Heat scored the next seven points to put the game on ice.
“It was obvious, but I really can’t comment about that play in particular. It’s part of the game. That was a big swing for us. I think we had the momentum. There was a lot of controversy out there, and it just didn’t go our way,” Rondo said afterward at the podium next to Ray Allen, who added, “We all thought he got hit, I’ll say it.”
Rivers joked with a reporter who was asking him to comment on the “50-50” calls that seem to all go against the Celtics in Game 2.
“Can you call it something other than 50-50 calls? Can you come up with another percentage for me?” Rivers said with a smile. “We’re not going to blame [the officials]. We have to play better and we will.”
|Fast Break: Heat withstand Rajon Rondo’s brilliance||05.30.12 at 11:52 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo played all 53 minutes, scoring a career-high 44 points — the final umpteen on fumes — but the Celtics lost a heartbreaker in overtime, 115-111, and trail the Heat 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Rondo finished 16-of-24 from the field while adding 10 assists, eight rebounds and three steals in perhaps the greatest game of a career filled with mind-boggling triple-doubles. Paul Pierce (21 points), Kevin Garnett (18 points, 8 rebounds) and Ray Allen (13 points) all exceeded 40 minutes, but the C’s ran out of gas.
In the final minute of regulation, Pierce fouled out with 47 seconds remaining, Dwyane Wade made just 1-of-2 free throws to give the Heat a 99-96 lead, Allen connected on a game-tying 3-pointer with 34 seconds left and LeBron James missed a pair of potential game-winning buckets.
But James led Miami with 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Wade (23 points) and Mario Chalmers (22 points) were the only other Heat players in double figures. Of course, their 47-29 advantage in free throws (24 for James) and 15 fewer personal fouls helped, too. In the final five minutes and overtime, the Celtics were whistled for 11 fouls to the Heat’s two. And Miami took 18 free throws (James 12, Wade 6) to the C’s two.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Turd quarter: The Celtics withstood a Heat run to close the second half, even maintaining a less-than-comfortable 71-66 lead 7:36 into the third quarter, but Miami went on a 12-0 run after a Wade block of Allen on the break to snare a six-point lead — just another reminder of how quickly the Heat can ignite offensively. That stretch featured Wade’s awakening and, of course, a couple more James free throws.
Mario cart: While most of the Heat couldn’t connect throughout the first half –shooting just 15-of-41 (36.6 FG%) from the field as a team — bit player Chalmers carried Miami when its superstars struggled. His 14 points and four assists in the opening two quarters help offset Rondo’s sensational first-half stretch.
Hitting the deck: Maybe Greg Stiemsma took Rondo’s “hit the deck” comments a little too literally. He picked up four personal fouls in his first three minutes of action, and while Doc Rivers nearly earned himself another technical foul, most were completely deserved. That meant Stiemsma, who had played quite well in limited Game 1 action, gave way to Ryan Hollins, who proceeded to dribble into a sea of Heat defenders and turn the ball over.
|Irish Coffee: Marquis Daniels to the Celtics’ rescue?||at 11:24 am ET|
James played 44 minutes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Pierce was on the floor for 40 of them. While chasing the NBA MVP around as he took 30 percent of Miami’s 72 field goal attempts and scored 32 of the Heat’s 93 points, the Celtics captain had little left in the tank on the offensive end.
Pierce finished with 12 points on 5-of-18 field goals and failed to get to the free throw line, where he’s made his bones on a bum knee during this playoff run. It was only the third time in his career he didn’t attempt a foul shot in a playoff game, and two of those have come since he sprained the MCL in his left knee.
Jeff Green was supposed to be the guy who could spare Pierce for even a handful of minutes, and he actually did a fairly good job against James in the 2011 playoffs, but that hope ended in heart surgery and a lost season. Then, Mickael Pietrus showed potential as that guy, but he’s had to assume the backup duties to Ray Allen on Dwyane Wade in Avery Bradley‘s absence, and that problem is only becoming more complicated.
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