|Doc Rivers: ‘I love our guys’ and I’m ‘leaning heavily to coming back’||05.11.11 at 10:08 pm ET|
Just minutes after being eliminated in a stunning 16-0 game-ending run in Game 5 by the Miami Heat, Doc Rivers announced that he is leaning heavily toward returning as the Celtics head coach next season.
“I’m leaning heavily to coming back,” said Rivers, who is not signed for the 2011-12 season. “I haven’t made a decision but I can tell you I probably will [return]. I’ve kind of come to that [decision] over the last couple of weeks. I’m a Celtic and I love our guys. And I want to win again here, I do. I’m competitive as hell and I have a competitive group. So, we’ll see but I can tell you that’s where I’m at today. I may change my mind tomorrow but that’s where I’m at today.”
“I know we gave a lot in Game 3 and I never felt like we could ever get all that effort back from all our guys and the games did come quick,” Rivers said. “I will say this, I don’t believe this team is done, though. After listening to the Lakers being broken up after they lost, I’m sure, hell, we’re all done, our team. We have to add some people but other than that, I love the guys in that locker room.”
The first major personnel decision could be what to do with Glen Davis, who is unsigned next season. Jeff Green is also a restricted free agent this summer. Shaquille O’Neal told TNT’s Craig Sager before the Game 5 that he will decide this summer if he will play again or retire.
As for the game itself, Rivers had few words for the 16-0 run that ended his seventh season in Boston.
“It happens,” Rivers said. “I’ve just about seen all of it. It’s not the way you want to end the game or the season.”
Visibly fighting off emotions, Rivers concluded the post-game Game 5 press conference by answering how much of his desire to return is tied to the fact that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are all under contract for next season.
“Yeah, and I love them and I love the people I work for,” Rivers said. “It’s tough. So, we’ll see. That’s where I’m at today for sure.”
|Fast Break: LeBron James, Heat bury the Celtics||at 9:49 pm ET|
A pair of 3-pointers, a fast break dunk off a steal and a driving layup by LeBron James in the final 2:10 capped a 16-0 run that gave the Heat a 97-87 victory Wednesday night and ended the Celtics season after five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Nenad Krstic scored the C’s final points of the season, with 4:28 remaining, giving the Celtics an 87-81 lead. But James broke an 87-87 tie with 2:10 remaining, and then buried a go-ahead trey with 40 seconds left after Jeff Green mishandled a poor Paul Pierce pass. After a timeout, Delonte West turned the ball over and James put the game — and the C’s season — away with a dunk and a layup seconds later.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Paul Pierce’s early foul trouble: With the Celtics leading by three and James cruising for a breakaway dunk, Pierce committed a truly ill-advised foul just 5:40 into the game. Not only that, but it was Pierce’s second personal, forcing coach Doc Rivers to give him an early hook before bringing him back for the second quarter. Pierce then picked up his third foul late in the second quarter and missed the final 1:44 of the half. He never got into a rhythm and couldn’t provide any physicality on the defensive end.
Dwyane Wade’s monster first half: While the rest of his teammates made just 6-of-24 first-half shots (25 percent), Wade buried 9-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 from the free-throw line for 23 points before the break. While the Celtics shot 52.9 percent for the opening 24 minutes, the Heat trailed by only two points (49-47) at the half — thanks to Wade and the Heat’s 23-14 advantage in free-throw attempts. Wade had 15 foul shots in all, and overall, the Heat totaled free throws 38 to the Celtics’ 20.
Rondo’s health: At one point in the fourth quarter, both Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal were receiving back treatment on the sidelines. And how could you forget Rondo was already dealing with a dislocated left elbow that left him at 50-50 prior to the game? He did not play in the fourth quarter, finishing with six points and three assists, despite a valiant effort. O’Neal also missed the final quarter, totaling just three points and two boards.
Careless turnovers: Garnett and Pierce combined for seven turnovers, and the Celtics committed 17 in all — the majority of them seemingly unforced. Down 3-1 and on the road, the C’s couldn’t afford to give the Heat that many extra opportunities.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Getting KG involved early: The Heat crowd may have arrived late, as usual, but Garnett showed up right from the opening tip. He attacked the paint and scored nine of the Celtics’ first 13 points, finishing the first quarter with 12 points, five rebounds and two steals to help the C’s grab a 24-16 before the Heat and their fans even knew what hit them. Considering Garnett’s Game 3 success (28 points, 18 rebounds) and Game 4 failure (7 points on 1-of-10 shooting), the Celtics needed Garnett to set the tone. Unfortunately, he scored three points the rest of the way.
Ray Allen gets open looks: After struggling to find space and making only 11-of-30 shots in Games 2-4, Allen got free from Wade and made 6-of-12 from the field in Game 5, including 5-of-10 shooting on some pretty wide open looks from beyond the arc (not to mention a huge four-point play). His 11 first-half points helped pick up some of the slack left by Pierce’s relative absence.
Nenad Krstic and the bench (yup, you read that right): At the end of the third quarter, Krstic buried a long baseline jumper that put the Celtics up 73-71 heading into the final 12 minutes of play. Krstic finished with eight points as the Celtics’ bench outscored the Heat’s 33-12. Krstic, Jeff Green (9 points), Delonte West (10 points) and even Glen Davis (6 points) each scored at least six points on the night.
|Celtics-Heat Live Blog Game 5 from Miami||at 6:34 pm ET|
Join WEEI.com’s Celtics beat writer Paul Flannery from Miami and Celtics writers Ben Rohrbach and Mike Petraglia for a live blog of tonight’s do-or-die Game 5 for the Celtics as they try to stay alive in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Heat.
|Irish Coffee: What exactly is ‘championship DNA’?||at 12:48 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Probably as a Pavlovian response forced upon them by coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat keep saying the Celtics have some mythical championship DNA lingering from their 2008 title that will make them seemingly impossible to oust from the NBA playoffs in Game 5.
- Dwyane Wade: “That’s a championship team, and they play with the championship DNA that they have.”
- Mario Chalmers: “We know they’ve won a championship before, and they have a championship DNA. We’re just trying to get there, and we want to beat them.”
- Udonis Haslem: “We have the opportunity to close it out. It’s not going to be easy. I understand that they’ve got the championship DNA, and they’re not going to just give it to us. It’s going to be a hard-fought game.”
What, exactly, is “championship DNA”? Did the two-time defending champion Lakers have it when they were swept out of this season’s Western Conference semifinals by the title-starved Mavericks? Did the four-time champ Spurs have it this year when they lost in the first round to an eighth-seeded Grizzlies team that had never won a playoff game before?
Only five players remain from the Celtics team that won a title three years ago — albeit their best five for much of the season, until Glen Davis went missing. Like people, NBA teams get old, and they eventually pass the torch to someone with younger, stronger and/or better DNA. Someone like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
The sad part is that you can still extract DNA from somebody after they’re dead. But a heart is different. As long as it’s beating, you’re still alive. And the Celtics, for now, are still alive.
“This is a veteran team with a championship heart,” said the Heat’s Chris Bosh, after he helped push the Celtics to the brink of elimination in Game 4. They’re going to come out swinging in the beginning until the end no matter what the outcome is. We just have to be prepared for that. We have to use the homecourt to our advantage and just play basketball.”
So, the real question before Game 5: Is that championship heart still beating?
|Why Erik Spoelstra and the Heat still fear Kevin Garnett and the C’s||05.10.11 at 12:04 pm ET|
After his team found a way to hold Garnett to 1-of-10 shooting from the field and seven points in a 98-90 overtime win over the Celtics Monday night, Spoelstra wasn’t about to say he found any miraculous answer. And if he did, he wasn’t about to share it anyway.
‘I’m not going to say anything about it,” Spoelstra said. “Now he’s got 48 hours to gain all his fuel again and fuel him up. I’m sure if I actually paid attention, everybody will be saying whatever they will be saying about him.”
“He’s a champion,” Spoelstra said of KG. “I have incredible respect for him. We tried to be active defensively. We tried to not leave people on an island. I anticipate we’ll get their best games on Wednesday and we have to be better than that. If we’re real about what we want to do, we have to beat the Boston Celtics at their best.’
All of that is well and good but Doc Rivers knows he has to have more out of KG Wednesday night in Miami if the Celtics have a prayer of chance to bring the series back to the Garden for Game 6 Friday night.
“I don’t know,” Rivers responded when asked if Garnett was tentative. “They trapped him a couple of times and I thought he was probably looking more for traps. We have to get him down there more; we tried. So, I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think he was looking for ‘ he was looking to be a passer to me more than being an aggressive scorer. And that was that.’
|Irish Coffee: Delonte West knows ‘it’s win or go home’||at 11:30 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
This was supposed to be Delonte West‘s season of redemption. Instead, it’s been a season of frustration.
If anybody on this Celtics team could turn to excuses, it’s West, whose series of injuries this year has kept him from assuming the role everybody knew he was capable of fulfilling when healthy. He grew up balling on the playgrounds in the Greater Washington D.C. area, developing a toughness that has prepared him to take (and make) big shots in big moments, frustrate superstars like Dwyane Wade defensively and, of course, battle injury.
And now that West has finally found his groove — scoring at least 10 points in all four games against the Heat — it might be too late. Still, trailing 3-1 and heading back to Miami for Game 5, West isn’t playing the blame game.
“It’s win or go home,” West said after the 98-90 Game 4 defeat. “You gotta bring it. Everybody’s gotta bring it, or we might as well just get some seats down at the beach and stay down there. But that’s not our plan.”
West could’ve made excuses when he was suspended for the first 10 games of the season on weapons charges, but instead he took it as a learning experience. He could’ve made excuses when he broke his right wrist five games after returning from suspension. Or when he chipped a bone in his right ankle three games after returning from wrist surgery. Or when he injured his shooting shoulder in Game 3 of these Eastern Conference semifinals. But he didn’t.
“It’s doing a lot better,” he said. “I had it taped up. They put some type of compression sleeve on it. It feels a lot better than [Sunday] and definitely better than when I hurt it the prior game. I ain’t got no excuses over here.”
This was exactly the kind of moment their detractors were waiting for. LeBron James drives into the paint against Paul Pierce, loses control of himself and the ball and allows the Celtics to get a chance to get a final shot and win the game.
So, when a foul was called with 19.5 seconds remaining and the Celtics called timeout, Dwyane Wade came over to LeBron and had a talk.
‘I had a timeout to kick myself, tell myself you can’t turn the ball over in that situation,” James said. “D-Wade came to me, told me what he thought I should have done, but there was still time on the clock and I had to let it go because they had the ball with the shot clock was off.
“For the most part, I’ve watched a lot of Celtics games, I’ve been in a lot of pressure situations against them so I kind of knew what was coming at me, I knew it was going to be either a Paul Pierce pick and roll or it was going to be an isolation. The only way for me to redeem myself was to get a stop and send it to overtime.’
Which is exactly what he did. He forced Paul Pierce to the left – after the Celtics botched the play – and made the Celtics captain shoot a fallaway jumper that rimmed out at the buzzer.
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