|Paul Pierce reminds Celtics that his future is in ‘their hands’||05.01.13 at 11:47 am ET|
NEW YORK — The reality could hit soon and very hard for Paul Pierce and the Celtics if Boston doesn’t win Game 5 here at Madison Square Garden.
Reminded at the Wednesday morning shootaround that he is entering the final year of his current contract next season and could be playing his last game in a Celtics uniform, Pierce was philosophical.
“I’ve always been a guy who says things happen for a reason,” Pierce said. “I was a No. 10 [overall] pick [in 1998]. I did not anticipate that. I just always feel like through my whole career things everything is going to fall into the right place for me. So, I really don’t give much thought until after the season. But I know, at the end of the day, whatever I do, whatever they do, it’s going to fall into the right place for me.”
Pierce is signed through next season for just over $15.3 million but it is not guaranteed. Pierce is aware that the team could trade him in the offseason if the Celtics want to clear space, and if another team acquires him and then dumps the contract.
“I’ve always said that I want to end my career as a Celtic but they are the ones [who decide],” Pierce said. “I have a year contract for next year but it’s not guaranteed so the decision is in their hands. But, whatever they decision they make… Maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it could be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire as a Celtic.
“Right now, it’s just year-by-year. I expect to play another year next year and then evaluate after that.”
Meanwhile, Pierce isn’t worried about what the Knicks are saying either. Reminded that Kenyon Martin suggested black formal wear to Game 5 for the Celtics’ funeral, Pierce responded, “No reaction. It’s basketball. I’m not going to be dead after the game.”
|Kevin Garnett: ‘Haven’t given any thought to next year’||04.30.13 at 2:44 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Asked if he’s allowed himself to think what might become of these Celtics if they return a healthy Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger next season, Kevin Garnett wouldn’t take the bait.
“I haven’t given any thought to next year,” he said. “I’m just trying to focus on this game coming up.”
Those injuries left the Celtics scrambling to sign the China trio of Terrence Williams, Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White in addition to trading for Jordan Crawford. As a result, the team’s inability to set a rotation entering Game 5 of their first-round series against the Knicks hasn’t come as a surprise to Garnett.
“Our team was formed a little late, so we’ve been behind the 8-ball, if you will, as far as chemistry and just trying to make sure everything is always coming together on a consistent basis,” said KG. “That’s not easy to do, so, no, it doesn’t surprise me that we’re still in those stages.”
Still, Garnett doesn’t make excuses. As usual, he spoke in truths prior to Tuesday’s practice.
“We have no pressure at this point,” he said. “It should be an all-out mentality, and we should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind. We’ll take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put ourselves in this position. We can’t be moaning about it too much.”
Garnett is averaging 11.3 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a block in 33.0 minutes in the series.
WALTHAM — It’s a theme that began last weekend after the Game 3 loss to the Knicks. Every game the rest of the series is like Game 7. It worked in Game 4 as the Celtics won, 97-90, in overtime but the Knicks still lead the series, 3-1.
“Like I told them, what’s the difference between being down 0-3 and being in a Game 7?” Doc Rivers asked rhetorically. “It’s no different. It’s an elimination game. The difference is your mindset. In a Game 7 you’re thinking, ‘Let’s win it to win it.’ When you’re down 0-3, you never know. You may have a couple guys making vacation plans, thinking you can’t do it. It’s all about the mindset. And that’s what I told our guys before the game the other night and that will be the message still. Each game you win, it is a Game 7. If you advance, you just advance to another game instead of to the next round. That’s got to be our mindset.”
Rivers knows veterans like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry fully understand that message. The hope is that it’s filters to players like Avery Bradley and Jeff Green Wednesday night in New York.
“You know, Game 7s are all out,” Garnett said before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just what they are. They’re your last opportunity to survive and your mentality can’t be anything different. We have no pressure at this point. It should be an all-out mentality and you should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind and take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put [ourselves] in this position, and we can’t [complain] about too much.”
Did Sunday’s Game 4 OT win instill more confidence in the group as they hit the road?
“Don’t know,” Rivers answered. “I’m hoping that we had confidence to begin with, but I honestly don’t know. I think we are really looking forward to the next game.”
What was clear to Rivers and his coaching staff from watching film is that another 18 turnovers Wednesday in New York like they had on Sunday will end the season. Aside from turning the ball over, the Celtics need to repeat their offensive flow of the first half, when they shot 50 percent and built a 19-point halftime lead.
“Well, we have to repeat it,” Rivers said. “It’s clear when we play a certain way, and that’s in an attack mode, not settling offensively, moving the ball, getting in transition, we’re hard to stop. It’s also clear when we get into the half-court and slow the ball down we’re not that hard to stop and that’s obvious.”
Other nuggets from Tuesday practice from Doc Rivers:
Second chance points. Frustrating for KG? “That’s frustrating for him. And some of them were switches where we switch and Chandler is underneath with a guard. We got called for two face guard block outs, which is legal. And I think we have to explain that honestly to our official, because it doesn’t look legal and I agree with them in that, but it actually is a legal position. We’re telling our guards instead of backing up, turn around and face guard them and block them out that way. Your’e not going to get the ball, but they’re not going to either. So that’s something we’re trying to do. but their guards got a lot of rebounds too. Shumpert hurt us on the glass. Jason Kidd hurt us on the glass too. So we can’t give up the extra shots with the turnovers and the offensive rebounds and expect to win tomorrow on the road. We just can’t do that. So we have to definitely fix the turnovers first and then the rebounds second.
On admiring KG for hard work it takes to get ready? “No, people have no idea what he goes through, and you can’t unfortunately. But it really is watching him just in there now doing all the stuff that they’re doing, the stretching. He just plays because he loves it, and it’s will. A lot of guys would just not play anymore. The fact that he does and to the level that he does it, I mean he’s a rebounding machine for us right now, and we need it.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Jeff Green: ‘Playoffs are where players are made’||at 2:00 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Has Jeff Green considered that Game 5 might be the final time we see Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce in a Celtics uniform? “I have not,” Green said before Tuesday’s practice.
Kevin Garnett‘s mantra following the C’s Game 4 victory in Boston — “all out from here on out” — seems to be permeating throughout the locker room, if only because they have no other choice.
“We have to bring it,” said Green, who brings a playoff average of 20.8 points into Wednesday’s Game 5. “That’s the only way we have a chance to win the game. We’ve just got to play all out.”
The Celtics have had their share of issues against the Knicks, but Green hasn’t been one of them. He’s averaging 5.8 boards, 2.3 assists and a block per game while recording a true shooting percentage of 55.
“I’ve been working hard,” said Green. “The playoffs are where players are made, and hopefully people are starting to take notice of what I can do, but it is what it is. I know what I can do. I could care less what other people think. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just trying to win games for my team.”
If only so he doesn’t have to answer any more questions about Garnett or Pierce.
But he’ll still have to answer plenty of questions about everything else. Here are his answers:
WALTHAM — For Jason Terry and the Celtics offense, the hope is that Sunday’s Game 4 is a sign that the fuse has been lit.
The veteran point guard was asked before Tuesday’s practice if his 18-point performance on Sunday in Game 4 – which included a season-saving 9-0 run at the end of overtime – is a sign that his offensive game is coming around at the right time.
“I’m just feeding off the fact that I don’t want to go home right now,” Terry said. “I feel like we have a lot of basketball left with this particular group. If we win, we get another opportunity to come back here and play another game.
“We just know that if we can score 90-plus points, we’re going to have an opportunity to win. We’ve doing a decent job defensively of holding them under their season average but offensively, we’ve struggled. We started to get a little bit of a breakthrough the last game. Hopefully, the floodgates will open and we’ll have one of those performances.”
Indeed, the Celtics scored 97 points in Sunday’s 97-90 Game 4 win, though they needed 53 minutes to reach that figure.
“It’s just staying persistent, staying in the moment and knowing every possession is critical,” Terry said. “You can’t turn the ball over. That’s been a struggle for us this series. If we don’t turn it over, we stay persistent and keep defending the way we are, we’re going to have a great chance shot to win the game.”
Is that Terry’s veteran message to other Celtics?
“This is what I’m saying,” Terry said. “This is my approach. If it feeds on to them, hopefully, it does. If it doesn’t, I still have to go out and play like that for myself to be right.”
Of course, Game 5 in New York will be a hostile environment. Some – like Kenyon Martin predicted on Monday – might call it a funeral for the Celtics season. It was Martin who suggested everyone at Madison Square Garden wear black for the occasion. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kenyon Martin guarantees Celtics ‘funeral’ in Game 5||04.29.13 at 11:25 am ET|
On his way into TD Garden on Sunday, a Celtics fan who watched his team fall into a 3-0 hole in the first round admitted, “It feels like I’m going to a wake.”
Celtics guard Jason Terry, who provided the sunshine in a Game 4 victory, must have felt it, too.
“The guy was mouthing off before the game,” Knicks forward Kenyon Martin told the New York Daily News. “He told me, ‘You’re not dancing at my funeral today.’”
Terry’s 18 points, including the C’s final nine in their 97-90 overtime win, made true on that promise. So, Martin made his own vow to lay the Celtics to rest in Game 5.
“We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin told the Daily News, requesting his teammates “wear black. Funeral colors.”
|Paul Pierce: ‘I had a certain calmness’ about Game 4||04.28.13 at 9:17 pm ET|
Paul Pierce wasn’t preoccupied with “what-ifs” heading into an elimination game Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. What if the Celtics lost? Could this be the last game in a Celtics uniform for the captain who is signed through next season.
“To be honest, I was calm,” Pierce said. “I had a certain calmness about the game today,” Pierce said after scoring a team-high 29 points in a 97-90 overtime win against the Knicks that kept the season alive and sent the series back to New York for Game 5 Wednesday night.
Pierce played nine seconds shy of 50 minutes on this day that his Celtics career might have ended. He didn’t want it to end like this, on his home court, blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and missing a trademark iso shot that would’ve won the game in regulation.
“Yeah you know every game is tough in the playoffs,” Pierce said. “We had a sizable lead, but we understood that they could make a run. They’re a good team. But you know, we gotta limit their runs. We gotta be better, especially in the third quarter. That’s been our Achilles heel in this series, and so hopefully we can look to improve upon that in Game 5.”
Pride is a word that gets thrown around a lot but the Celtics showed a lot of it in the fourth quarter when the Knicks had already gotten back into the game and could sense the kill. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry rallied the troops.
“Yeah, there was a lot of pride,” Pierce said. “Us, as [leaders] of the team, we’ve got to instill it in these guys. You saw with the attitude before the game, we knew we were gonna come out with the force we did today, and it carried over into the game. And this crowd. You gotta give a hand to this crowd. They really gave us a boost. Everytime I look up there, you feel it, you see it, you hear it; there’s just so much pride when you look around, the banners, the crowd and everything going on with the Boston Celtics history.”
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