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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: LeBron James’ sixth foul a bad call 06.04.12 at 10:40 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to share his thoughts on the officiating and what Sunday’s win says about the Celtics.

“I thought Boston, to re-gather themselves in overtime, with [Paul] Pierce fouling out, to take that body blow, withstand it and come up with the win was terrific mental toughness on their part,” Van Gundy said.

With both Pierce and LeBron James fouling out quickly into overtime, both on plays away from the ball, Van Gundy went on to discuss the officiating late in the game. Van Gundy took issue with the call that forced James to the sideline for the only the fourth time in his career.

“I thought that was a foul on [Mickael] Pietrus, pulling [James] down, or at worst, a no-call,” Van Gundy said. “Let them both get up and play. Listen, I’m for more fouls, you know, seven fouls. I’m for sneezing so I don’t see Paul Pierce running into [Shane] Battier on an inconsequential [play], they didn’t even have the ball. I’m just not a fan of watching the last plays in that game, in such a dramatic, hard, hotly contested game with those two guys on the bench. Now, some of the fouls that people want to ignore have to be called, but I could see where a fan of both teams would not have liked the Pierce foul or the James foul because it didn’t involve the ball yet. It was just guys jostling for position.”

Van Gundy argued that by doing a good job setting the tone early in games, officials could afford to use greater discretion when making calls late in games or in overtime.

“I would tell you this, people who want the game called exactly the same way in the first quarter and the fourth quarter, I know I don’t want refereeing late in those games. There has to be a different level of certainty on those calls. In the first quarter you’re trying to establish a tone. Get the game called in the right manner. Let everyone know the amount of contact that’s going to be allowed. In the final three or four minutes of a close game I think referees have to have certainty that the play has an impact directly to giving a team an advantage.”

As for whether he thinks officials should call plays differently for star players like James or Pierce, Van Gundy was emphatic.

“No. No, no, no, no. Who’s in the game doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “It’s the certainty of the call, I think late, that you want to make sure of. There’s no setting the tone, there’s no ‘have the game called exactly the same.’ If you’ve done your job, to me, as an officiating crew, how you called the game throughout the game sets the tone that everybody knows that you don’t have to clean up anything late, because the game has been managed well right from the start.”

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Paul Pierce has the last laugh on LeBron James at 4:47 am ET
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Cameras caught Paul Pierce breaking into a wide smile with 1:51 left in overtime as LeBron James was called for his sixth and final foul, getting disqualified for just the fourth time in his career, and the first time since April 2008.

It was also the first time in James’ career that he fouled out in the playoffs. Paul Pierce, on the other hand, fouled out for the third time in his last five playoff games dating back to Game 7 against Philadelphia. Pierce was called for his sixth just 38 seconds into overtime when he was called for running over Shane Battier on a cut across the lane.

“Oh, it was very frustrating,” Pierce said. “But it’s gratifying when you see the other star player fouling out, also.”

Pierce later added, “It was a cut, scratch, grab, hold, elbow-type of game. I mean nobody was going to give an edge. I’d say it’s a classic. You rarely see that, you rarely see that. You rarely see that when you’ve got two star players fouling out.

“This is probably going to be an instant classic-type of game,” said Pierce, who is now headed to Miami with the Eastern Conference finals tied, 2-2. “We have a chance of winning this series. It’s not going to be easy, a good old classic bar fight.

“Words can’t even describe the type of game it is,” Pierce said. “I mean it’s a funny game, the way the ball bounces, the way things go. I mean, started out way up the big lead, to come back, and I was sitting there on the sideline in overtime, I was like, this is probably going to be an instant classic type of game. It was just like one team gets momentum and the other team just grabs it. I’m just glad we were on the winning side today.”

Pierce laughed when asked where he thinks the series stands. He laughed because he’s very aware of the opportunity that lies ahead, starting with Game 5 in Miami.

“It’s even,” Pierce said. “We’ve got to win a game in Miami, of course. We have a chance of winning this series. It’s not going to be easy. It’s a good old classic bar fight. Going in to it, you [had] to expect every game to be like this. Coming down to the wire, both teams trying to find an edge. This was a great game today.

“We’ve won two in a row,” Pierce added. “We feel like we let Game 2 slip away. So, we fee like were playing a good momentum. But we’ve got to start playing for 48 minutes. We haven’t put together a 48 minute game yet. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have gotten to 100 points tonight after scoring 61 in the first half so were hoping we can put together a full game when we get down to Miami.”

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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
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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.”

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Celtics-Heat Game 4: All about adjustments at 2:10 pm ET
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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.

But to do that, they will have to solve what the Celtics have been throwing at them – namely double-teams and various switches on coverage. Let Paul Pierce explain:

“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 »

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Paul Pierce: ‘We needed a team effort’ 06.02.12 at 3:08 am ET
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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.”

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Game 7 shootaround: Keyon Dooling returns, Avery Bradley home resting after surgery 05.26.12 at 11:59 am ET
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WALTHAM — Already without Avery Bradley, the Celtics practiced on Friday without backup guard Keyon Dooling, who was out sick. Dooling returned to the team Saturday morning for its shootaround before Game 7 with the Sixers. The team worked on half-court set as per usual with no conditioning drills. Before the shootaround, the team also watched film.

With Bradley out and Ray Allen nursing two sore ankles, Dooling figures to see more playing time in Saturday night’s decisive game. In another positive sign, Greg Stiemsma took part on Saturday, a day after Doc Rivers said the backup center’s feet were “feeling better.” During Game 6 in Philadelphia, Rivers said that Stiemsma asked out of the game because he was in pain.

“He couldn’t play in the second half the other night,” Doc Rivers said on Friday. “Funny, I put him and he walks up and says, ‘I can’t go.’ I thought he was walking up to go in. But he feels better and that’s good.”

Allen has two sore ankles and Paul Pierce is nursing a sprained MCL in his left knee. Both Allen and Pierce are expected to start in Game 7.

Meanwhile, Bradley is resting after surgery Friday on both shoulders, a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells WEEI.com. He was the only Celtics player not in attendance at the Saturday morning shootaround.

The source confirms that Bradley had surgery on Friday and is expecting a summer-long rehab program that could last up to four months. If all goes as expected, Bradley should be ready for training camp in October.

Bradley initially injured the rotator cuff in his left shoulder but after playing with the injury, he also injured the right shoulder to the point where it needed to be repaired as well. Bradley had the left shoulder pop out in the third quarter of Game 4 against the Sixers and missed Games 5 and 6 before deciding to have surgery on Friday, performed by team doctor Brian McKeon, so that he could be ready for training camp in October.

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Ray Allen: Game 7 ‘just another opportunity to go out and be who we are’ 05.25.12 at 6:08 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Ever since the Celtics lost Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals in Los Angeles, Ray Allen has been asked, in one way or another, about the last game he might play in Celtic green.

Saturday night at TD Garden is another one of those possible scenarios so naturally, he was asked whether he’s given any thought to what could be his final game with the Celtics as part of the “Big Three.”

“Not really, not all,” Allen said before Friday’s practice. “I think I’ve in that situation many times before where that question has been posed to me so many times. We’ve been so fortunate to do what we’ve done here. It seems like we’ve been ruled out so many times before, so many years before. This is just another opportunity to go out and be who we are. We’re not worried about what’s beyond today. We’re more worried about what we have present day.”

Speaking of present day, Paul Pierce was asked point blank Friday whether the team’s tattered physical condition would take away from any joy over winning Game 7 since the rested and healthy Miami Heat wait in the wings Monday in the opener of the Eastern finals. Said another way, are the Celtics anything more than just a sacrificial lamb for the Heat if they prevail over Philadelphia?

“The focus is just one game right now,” Pierce said. “One-game series. Win or go home. You can’t look beyond that.”

But the bigger picture?

“I don’t think you should overlook it,” Pierce insisted. “Obviously, the goal is to win the championship. You have tto stake it step by step. It’s just about one game.”

And the way Allen sees it, that one game against the Sixers is a game of opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

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