|Doc Rivers: ‘Of course’ Celtics want to avoid Heat in playoffs.. ‘I’m not that dumb’||04.06.13 at 1:39 am ET|
Not that there was much of a doubt to begin with but Doc Rivers made it very clear after Friday’s 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers (which snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak) that he wants no part of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Thanks to the Bucks loss in New York to the Knicks Friday night, the Celtics (39-37) are two games up in the loss column on Milwaukee for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with just six games left.
Does he pay attention to the standings?
“I do but I don’t,” Rivers said in his best hedging language. “I really don’t. I know we’re in the seventh spot. I know we want to stay out of the eighth spot.
So, Rivers is actually admitting he wants avoid the Heat?
“Of course we would,” Rivers admitted when asked that very question. “But if we play them, we’ll be ready. But of course we would. Listen, I’m not that dumb. I’m not the brightest guy but come on. Really, you would love to avoid anyone [like Miami]. Listen, no matter who we play, we’re going to play a tough team. It’s going to be New York, Indiana or Miami. There’s no cakewalk for us. It’s going to be hard.”
To Rivers point, the Celtics are 1-3 this year against New York, 1-2 against Miami and 2-0 against Indiana. The Celtics play the Heat next weekend in Miami and the Pacers at the Garden on April 16.
Rivers was asked if he’s going out of his way to avoid playing his stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get them as physically ready for the playoffs as possible. But Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte took that decision out of his hands just before Friday’s game.
“No, I wanted Paul to play [against Cleveland] but he couldn’t, honestly,” Rivers said. “I would’ve played him if he could have. But right [before game] when Eddie said Paul’s [ankle] was swollen, that was an easy decision.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted after Friday night’s 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden that he is watching the standings and wants to avoid finishing eighth in the Eastern conference and a first round match up with the defending world champion Miami Heat. Rivers however stressed that whoever the Celtics face if it’s the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, it will be a tough matchup.
|Avery Bradley: ‘Just my collarbone… I’ll be fine’||04.05.13 at 11:19 pm ET|
Avery Bradley left the court with trainer Ed Lacerte holding his left shoulder.
Bradley had surgery on both shoulders last summer, delaying his return to the Celtics until January this season.
But as it turned out, Bradley was examined and returned to the bench late in the fourth quarter. Doc Rivers said he could’ve returned if absolutely necessary.
So, what was it that caused many Celtics fans to skip a heart beat?
He was elbowed in the collarbone by Kyrie Irving.
‘I think he’s fine,” Rivers said. “I think it was more the hit. I was concerned when he grabbed his shoulder that it was his shoulder, and Kyrie informed me that he shot him with an elbow; it had nothing to do with the shoulder. So, I told Kyrie, ‘Thank you for the update.’’
Bradley admitted after the game that he was sore but it’s nothing to be concerned about.
‘It hurts, but I’ll be fine,” Bradley said. “I get injured all the time, I’ll be alright.’
Most importantly, he confirmed that it wasn’t his shoulder.
‘No, not at all,” Bradley said. “Just my collarbone. He came, went to the basket, came down, and elbowed me right on my collarbone. It’s just a little swelling.’
‘No, when that happens you just have got to keep playing.’
Was Bradley aware he gave Celtics fans a scare?
“Yeah, I know, me too,” Bradley said. “But I’m fine.’
|Running on empty: Cavs outmuscle shorthanded Celtics||at 9:55 pm ET|
Second-year big man Tristan Thompson scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while the Celtics went ice cold in the second half and fell to the lowly Cavaliers, 97-91, Friday night at TD Garden. Pierce missed the game with a sore right ankle while Garnett missed his eighth straight game with inflammation in his left ankle. Cleveland won two of the three meetings this season between the two.
The Cavaliers used the Celtics to snap their 10-game losing streak while Boston fell for the third time in four games. The Celtics fell to 39-37 on the season but did not lose any ground on eight-place Milwaukee, which lost to the Knicks in New York. Boston remains in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of the Bucks in the loss column. Boston has six games remaining, including two games on its current four-game homestand. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 23 points and nine rebounds.
In a first half of unknown and unlikely heroes, it was Tristan Thompson became the latest opposing big man to dominate the Celtics inside. Behind Thompson’s career high in points and rebounds, the Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 52-38 in the paint and outrebounded Boston, 58-42.
Thompson, the second-year player out of Texas, scored 21 points and hauled in 11 rebounds in the first two quarters, as the Cavaliers (23-52) erased an eight-point deficit early in the second quarter, using a 10-0 run to forge a 52-52 halftime tie.
Shav Randolph had the best first half of his NBA career, scoring a career-high 13 points and grabbing five rebounds in the first 15 minutes of the game. But as has often been the case in his short stint with the Celtics, foul trouble limited his time on the court as he picked up three first-half fouls.
The Celtics built a seven-point lead, 62-55, on an Avery Bradley three with 8:13 left in the third. But then the wheels fell off as the Celtics went ice cold. Boston was just 6-for-27 (27.3 percent) from the field. Cleveland went on a 19-3 run to take a 74-65 lead before Jordan Crawford hit a three to cut Cleveland’s lead to 74-68 heading into the fourth.
But Cleveland scored the first eight points of the fourth to take a 14-point lead. Randolph picked up two fouls in a minute in the third quarter and then fouled out with 6:57 left in the fourth. Randolph finished with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds.
Jason Terry hit a baseline three with 5:46 left to bring Boston within four, 87-83, as the crowd became a factor again. But Thompson’s put-back dunk with five minutes left answered the Celtics run, putting Cleveland back up by six.
With 3:18 left in the game and the Celtics down eight, 91-83, Bradley left the game and headed for the locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte. He suffered a bruised left collar bone and returned to the bench with two minutes left in regulation but did not play. With 2:09 left in the game Green completed a three-point play to draw Boston within four again, 91-87 but an easy alley-oop layup by Tyler Zeller and a jumper by Kyrie Irving with 1:22 left put Cleveland up, 95-87.
The Celtics are off Saturday before returning to action at home on Sunday night (6 p.m.) against the Wizards at TD Garden. Boston concludes its four-game homestand on Wednesday night. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
This time, it will be the sore right ankle that is keeping him out of the lineup for precautionary reasons.
“I think he’ll be fine by Sunday,” Rivers said before Friday’s game.
Pierce, who missed Monday’s game in Minnesota for the birth of his first son, Prince Paul Pierce, on Tuesday night, was held out by coach Doc Rivers after Pierce complained of soreness in the foot.
Pierce was first spotted with a wrap on his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Pierce is missing just his third game this season, having played in 73 of the previous 75.
Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett missed his eighth straight game, still dealing with inflammation and bone spurs in his left ankle. Rivers is hopeful to have him back for practice on Saturday and possibly in the game against Washington on Sunday evening.
“Most likely [he’ll play Sunday] but I’m just saying that to give you an answer,” Rivers told reporters.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Jeff Green and Paul Pierce: ‘We’re two lethal threats’||04.04.13 at 1:19 am ET|
He’s been downright dominant offensively in 11 spot starts for a resting Paul Pierce and an injured Kevin Garnett, so come playoff time, all three should be in the starting lineup. Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed to concede that it’s “very possible” Green and Pierce start on the wings once Garnett returns.
“We’re playing off each other,” said Green, who scored 34 points to go with Pierce’s 17 in a 98-93 win over a Pistons team that had no matchup answers. “We’re two lethal threats on the perimeter and in the low post, so teams have to make a decision on how they want to play us. Either one of us is going to have a nice matchup.”
Added Pierce: “You’ve seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of teams come into these games really focused on what I’m trying to do in the scouting report. When you’ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that and take over a game, it’s fun. It’s fun to watch and be a part of.”
In the final 9:06 of a game that shouldn’t have been so close, Pierce and Green scored 17 straight points until a pair of Jason Terry free throws sealed the deal in the final seconds. Green scored 11 of the C’s final 13 points. But don’t confuse his aggressiveness in Garnett’s absence a passing of the torch just yet.
“I’m not trying to take over games,” said Green, who added five boards and four blocks. “That’s why we’ve got The Truth. I’m playing off of him. We’re looking for each other. We’re being aggressive. If it’s in my hands, I’m trying to make a play. If it’s in his hands, he’s going to make a play, so we’ve just got to play off each other.”
|Paul Pierce celebrates birth of first son Prince Pierce in a clinching win||04.03.13 at 11:20 pm ET|
“At 8:21 p.m. [Tuesday], Prince Paul Pierce was born,” Pierce announced proudly to the Celtics broadcasters after a 98-93 win over the Pistons. “In the next 18 years Celtics fans, look out.”
Prince Pierce was welcomed into the world and Pierce was a game-time decision for Wednesday’s game.
Pierce scored 17 points and dished out five assists in Boston’s 98-93 win over the Pistons, a win that clinched the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
Pierce also celebrated the 34-point performance of Jeff Green, who is helping to pick up the load without Kevin Garnett. The Celtics improved to 3-4 in seven games since Garnett went down with inflammation in his left ankle, inflammation reportedly caused by bone spurs.
‘I mean it’s very tough,” Pierce said. “You’ve got a guy [Green] who’s taking it upon himself in these types of situations to step up, along with myself, along with Jason Terry. So it’s nice to see, just to have that dimension.
“You have seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of times teams come into this game really focused on what I’m trying to do and the scouting report. And you’ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that, who can take over like that. It’s fun, it’s fun to watch and to be a part of.’
How does it feel for Pierce to have playoffs locked up?
‘We knew we were a playoff team before the season started, you know despite the injuries and everything,” he said. “Right now, we just want to focus on continuing to play well going into the playoffs.’
On nearly blowing an 18-point lead: ‘Well, yeah. We had a -point lead there late in the third. With like a minute to go they trimmed it to seven. You know, I think we just made things a little more difficult than they were suppose to be. Guys have got to be ready when they come in the game, to step up. I thought we let them back into the game a little too easy. They out-rebounded us, they pushed us around. The one constant I say we can have regardless if our shots fall is our defensive rebounding and we didn’t just do a good job in that department tonight.’
On playing without KG until playoffs: ‘Well there’s some value in winning and there’s also a lot of value in getting some of these other guys some playing time and some confidence going into the playoffs. The playoffs is a totally different game, it’s nothing like the regular season. But at least these guys will go out there and get there feet wet. See some shots go in, rebound the ball and get some experience while they’re out there.’
|Fast Break: Jeff Green drives Celtics over Pistons||at 10:14 pm ET|
Jeff Green scored a game-high 34 points — including a dagger 3-pointer with 45 seconds left — Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each added 17, and the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics beat the Pistons, 98-93. A 76ers loss locked the C’s into the playoffs, and a Bucks loss gave them a 2.5-game cushion over the eight seed.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Slump busting: In an attempt to emerge from his recent shooting struggles, Avery Bradley came out firing for the second straight game, and it’s working. He made 6-of-11 jumpers against the Timberwolves on Monday in his highest-scoring night since March 5. And he followed that up with a 5-of-6 night on jump shots against the Pistons. In his 13 previous games, Bradley made just 22-of-70 attempts (30 percent) from beyond 10 feet.
Green Day: Once again, Green shined in his seventh straight start for the injured Garnett. He entered Wednesday’s game averaging 21.4 points (55 FG%), 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals in 10 starts this season. He added six rebounds and four blocks to his 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting against the Pistons. Five-man Celtics units featuring Green were a combined plus-152, and all but one of them were in the black, according to 82games.com’s most recent updated on March 21.
Defending their honor: Somehow, the Celtics lost their two previous games to Detroit this season by a combined 35 points, allowing 103 points each time. This time around, sans Garnett, the C’s held the Pistons to 36.6 percent shooting (16.7 3P%), as pitbulls Bradley and Courtney Lee held Detroit’s starting backcourt to 7-of-26 from the field. Of course, Bass’s 17 points on eight shots and seven boards didn’t hurt, either.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Paint job: The Pistons scored their first 12 points in the paint. Here’s how it went down: Andre Drummond from 6 feet, Greg Monroe layup, Kyle Singler layup, Drummond layup, Monroe layup and Rodney Stuckney layup. Not good. Detroit out-rebounded the C’s 8-0 on the offensive glass (Drummond 5), scored 18-of-30 first-quarter points in the key and took a five-point edge on Monroe’s eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Also not good. When all was said and done, Detroit outscored the Celtics 58-28 in the paint.
Sloppy second half: With 3:49 left in the third quarter, the Celtics took a 74-56 lead on Chris Wilcox‘s one and only bucket. That’s the good news. The bad: The Pistons closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run thanks to nine points from Monroe and Jonas Jerebko. When Jerebko (19 points) converted a 3-point play to start the fourth quarter, the C’s 18-point lead was trimmed to four, and the teams had themselves a ballgame.
Extra chances: The Celtics shot 50.7 percent from the field. The Pistons shot 36.6 percent. So, how in the heck was it a three-point game midway through the fourth quarter? Turnovers, for one. The C’s committed 16 of them, leading to 20 Detroit points. And offensive rebounds. The Pistons grabbed almost as many offensive boards (25) as defensive (27), giving the visitors 22 more shots for the game.
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