|Paul Pierce: ‘We needed a team effort’||06.02.12 at 3:08 am ET|
Yes, the Celtics had Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all score at least 20 points Friday night in the 101-91 Game 3 win over the Heat. But Friday night’s must-have win over Miami had a much different feel.
Instead of just seven points from the bench (as was the case Wednesday), the Celtics watched as four players combined for 19 points, led by Marquis Daniels, who scored nine in nearly 20 minutes of action. Michael Pietrus also played nearly 20 minutes while Keyon Dooling played 17, Ryan Hollins played six and Greg Stiemsma played three.
‘It was huge,” said Pierce, who scored 23 in 40 minutes. “We needed a team effort. Guys on the bench, they are registered professional. Marquis hasn’t really played a lot for us in this series, but when his name was called upon he was ready. That’s what being a professional is all about. Every day he comes in, gets his work in. [Doc Rivers] called upon him tonight, he did a tremendous job guarding Lebron. He even contributed on the offensive end and that was huge for us. The bench was tremendous tonight. We needed everything.’
Pierce also sent a message similar to the 2004 Red Sox. The Heat have never lost a series leading 2-0. The Celtics are trying to buck the odds by winning a series down, 0-2.
‘We’ve been able to bounce back,” Pierce said. “We know we’re capable. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We’re not going to lose confidence being down 2-0. We don’t look at the statistics. We don’t look at the records. Records are made to be broken. You know, usually they say being down 2-0, what happens, but we don’t believe in that stuff. We’re just going to take it one game at a time. Hopefully hold down our home court Game 4, and see what happens when we come back from Miami.’
Friday’s win guarantees there will be a Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday. A win Sunday night will guarantee a Game 6 back in Boston next Thursday. So, how important is Game 4?
‘Every game is important,” Pierce said. “Definitely you want to defend your home court. You don’t want to get in a situation where you go down 3-1 and then they have two games left at home. It doesn’t really figure in your chances. You’re not the favorite anymore. Hopefully, the crowd come back with that same energy for us in a couple days and we’ll take Game 4.
‘It feels good. Especially after we felt like we had a chance at Game 2-how we let it slip in our hands- so it’s good to come back home and get a quality win.’
An inspired and fired up Kevin Garnett let everyone know exactly how proud he was of the Celtics fan base that supported the team Friday night in their 101-91 win over the Heat Friday night at TD Garden in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics avoided falling behind 3-0 in the series and could tie the series on Sunday with another home-court win.
‘It’s whatever, it’s desperation,” Garnett said. “You know, at this point it’s desperation, desperation basketball. Next game, Game 4, it’s going to be even more. You have to anticipate them making adjustments, were going to make some adjustments. But the tenacity, the desperation has to be there. We’re playing at home, we have to give it our all out and it will be out. The jungle was rockin’ tonight. I want to thank all the fans who came out. The [expletive] jungle was rockin’ tonight! I loved it. [Expletive] loved it.’
Garnett led the Celtics on the court as well as emotionally, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and helping the Celtics dominate the Heat in the paint, 58-46.
“KG is a difficult match’up for a lot of guys, period,” said LeBron James. “He started off really well. I think he had 12 points in the first quarter and got them off to a good start. That’s part of the reason why they had 58 points in the paint. He opened up a lot for not only himself but for his teammates as well. And he’s definitely a threat down there, and he made some huge shots.”
But Garnett, who had seven points in the opening quarter for the Celtics, repeated the mantra of desperation, something the Celtics came out with from the opening tip.
‘Desperation game, to be honest,” Garnett reiterated. “And we played like it too. You don’t want to be down 3-0 to a team like this. Very very good team, very talented team, well coached team. I feel like we played desperation basketball.
“I feel like these games at home, have to be nothing less than that. These are desperation games and we have to play them like that.’
|Celtics shootaround notes for Game 3: Extra time for KG and Ray||06.01.12 at 1:08 pm ET|
Not that they are expected to carry the team but Daniels knows more will be expected in Game 3 at the Garden. And it’s not necessarily the scoring but the energy level off the bench that has to be there. Daniels, Keyon Dooling and Mickael Pietrus are among those who could be vital in assuring Rajon Rondo doesn’t have to play the entire game like he did in Game 2.
“We just have to do what’s needed,” Daniels said at Friday morning’s shootaround. “Rondo obviously had a great game last game. If those guys [starters] continue to play well, we basically have to come in and do what we usually do, get some stops here and there, play good defense and knock down open shots.
“A little more here and there, and we’ll be OK.”
Pietrus led the bench in minutes with 28 on Wednesday, while Dooling added 15. Greg Stiemsma played just five minutes after picking up four quick fouls and Ryan Hollins, Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic and E’Twaun Moore all played under two minutes.
Daniels said the team’s focus is right where it needs to be, down 0-2 in the series to the heavily-favored Heat.
“We’re focused,” he said. “We’re going to go out and do what we need to do. We looked at film and got prepared so I think we’ll be ready.”
The focus was evident among most of the Celtics, who left after the shootaround to get their rest. However, Ray Allen stayed behind to work with assistants Ty Lue and Michael Longabardi while Kevin Garnett worked with assistant Jamie Young on mid-range and 3-point shooting, along with free throws.
Normally, both Allen and Garnett leave immediately after the shootaround, which focuses on half-court sets. Friday morning was different.
All Celtics were accounted for and present at Friday’s shootaround.
The Celtics will also look to take advantage of home court, where they’re 6-1 in the playoffs so far.
“It’s going to help a lot,” Daniels said. “Our crowd is going to be into it. It’s going to be a lot more intense. We’re going to come out focused and ready to play.
“Just stay consistent, come out and keep giving the energy where it’s needed, keep giving those guys their breaks and make sure we don’t fall off anywhere,” Daniels said. “We’re a veteran ball club so we don’t let too much get to us. You hate losing, obviously, but we’re going to come in focused and hopefully, we can get this one.”
|Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘Phenomenal … tough for him to play that way and not win the game’||05.31.12 at 1:55 am ET|
It was almost as painful as the bulging disk in his back that caused him to wince at the opening of his press conference. Doc RIvers took to the podium after his Celtics lost a heart-breaker in overtime to try and put perspective on his point guard’s record-setting night.
Rajon Rondo became the first player in the long, illustrious history of the Celtics to score at least 40 points and dish out at least 10 assists in a playoff game but his mood and the mood of the team was tempered after a 115-111 loss to the Heat Wednesday night that put the Celtics in a 2-0 hole in the Eastern Conference finals. Rondo finished with 44 points, 10 assists and was just two rebounds shy of his fourth triple-double of this playoff season.
“He was absolutely phenomenal,” Rivers said. “He put the whole team — at times — on his shoulders. It’s tough for him to play that way and not win the game, honestly, because he did basically everything right. We had a lot of opportunities to win the game.”
“It’s kind of irrelevant,” Rondo said. “We lost. It’s as simple as that.”
Rondo had three steals and just three turnovers, remarkable considering the point guard played all 53 minutes of the epic playoff contest. He became just the eighth player in NBA history to play all 53 minutes of a playoff game. But Rondo maintained that he was not tired in the late stages of the game.
“I felt fine,” Rondo said. “It was a mental grind for me, individually, and for us as a team. Kevin played extra minutes, we all did. There’s no turning back. It’s the conference finals so I wanted to play every minute. I thought I didn’t hurt my team by me playing every minute so I wanted to go out there and continue to do the best for my team.”
“It just happened during the game,” Rivers said of Rondo’s minutes. “You just read it. I don’t start the game saying I’m going to play Rondo the whole game. I just kind of read the situation. He was playing at a pretty good pace so we just rode him.”
Rondo said the Celtics are confident that the home crowd can help them get back in the series. The Celtics enter Friday’s Game 3 with a 6-1 home mark at TD Garden in these playoffs and have lost just twice in their last 21 home games dating back to Feb. 13.
“We have the next two at home,” Rondo said. “We had two tough losses on the road but it’s a seven-game series. We’re playing very well at home as of late. We’re looking forward to it.”
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.”
|Doc Rivers calls his technical ‘worst I’ve ever had’||05.29.12 at 12:03 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his displeasure with his technical foul very clear following a Game 1 loss to the Heat at American Airlines Arena in South Florida. Rivers was whistled for a technical foul by referee Ed Malloy with 3:13 left in the second quarter when he uttered the words, “Come on, Ed.”
“I know mine wasn’t [deserved],” Rivers said. “I don’t know how long I’ve been in the league, but that has to rank as the worst I’ve ever had. I would have liked to have earned it.”
Malloy called a technical foul on Rivers and then called one on Rajon Rondo midway through the third after Rondo and Shane Battier became entangled after a Brandon Bass basket. Rondo appeared to push Battier away, trying to get loose. Earlier in the game, referee Danny Crawford called a tech on Ray Allen after Allen was demonstrative after a call on him. Crawford then whistled Kevin Garnett for a delay of game technical for tapping the ball out of bounds after a Celtics basket.
“We should never get them, I told our guys,” Rivers said, before adding, “Everybody has to keep their composure, not just just the players and coaches.”
|Ray Allen proves to Doc Rivers that he’s the ‘ultimate gunslinger’||05.27.12 at 2:49 am ET|
After starting Game 7 by missing eight of his first nine shots, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range, Ray Allen picked a great time to get hot.
He hit a three with 9:51 left that sent the Garden into pandemonium and gave the Celtics a 60-54 lead over the Sixers. The Celtics missed their first 14 3-pointers before Allen connected from beyond the arc. As the Sixers drew to within three again, Bass hit two free throws and Allen drained another three with 5:52 left to extend the lead to eight, 69-61. Again pandemonium and again, all Doc Rivers could do was sit back and appreciate Allen’s resiliency.
‘Well Ray is the ultimate gun slinger,” Rivers said. “I mean, really. That’s what makes great players great. You know, I was a basketball player one day. And I would’ve never taken that shot late in the game like Ray, after missing my first 15. First of all, I wouldn’t have been in. But you know what I mean; a lot of guys ‘ you’ve got to have a set to do that, you really do. It was just impressive.”
What really made this impressive was how much pain Allen was fighting in his right ankle.
‘You know I took him out that one stretch, and remember he had back-to-back plays where he was wide-open and passed up the shot,” Rivers said. “And when we took him out I went over to him and said, ‘Hey, listen, we’re not going to have that.’ And he just said, ‘My foot’s killing me. I need a break. I’m good.’ And I told him again, I said, ‘Ray, listen, you don’t ever pass up shots.’ The biggest part was Rondo went over there and told him the same thing, which I thought was great for Ray to hear, confidence-wise. And then Kevin went over and told him. I thought that was big for him to hear.
“I was worried about him because I know him now and I saw the last four, five minutes if you watch him he was starting to shake his foot, which has been a sign that time to get him out. But you know, I told him that; I said, ‘Hey are you alright?’ He said, ‘I’m alright after we win this game. He just said it, ‘Leave me in; I’m good. So that was good.’