|Pierce: Doc is one ‘cool customer’||05.31.10 at 5:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Two of the most-respected coaches in the NBA also happen to have the most rings.
But whether the Celtics win another title or not in the next month, Paul Pierce believes he is playing for one of the best coaches of his generation. Pierce said Monday following practice that Rivers deserves credit for keeping the team focused on the task at hand and never showing panic through the course of a long season filled with many ups and downs.
“He’s definitely taken my career to the next level,” Pierce said. “You have to put him up there with the top-five coaches with Phil, Gregg Popovich.”
It wasn’t always that way as Pierce admitted earlier this season when he said his relationship with the Celtics and Rivers was sometimes like when a couple goes through growing pains early in their relationship.
Sometimes you come close to “breaking up” Pierce said but in the end, you work things out.
Such was the case, even this season, when the team went 27-27 to finish the season, losing at home to teams like Washington, New Jersey and Memphis. When the team was battling to find itself in January and February, Pierce said it was Rivers who kept things loose and easy.
“I think it’s everything to this ballclub,” Pierce said. “You can see at times when you play for coaches when things aren’t going right it just seems like the practices get harder and the yelling becomes louder and Doc is a cool customer.
“He didn’t panic, he didn’t get louder. He just stuck with the game plan. A lot of times, when you go through a stretch we went through like five games out of six, seven-out-of-10, you can tell from a coach’s body language that things are going downhill. You never really saw that with Doc. He came in and said, ‘Alight, we’re going to get back to work the next day.’ He always stayed positive and encouraged us and I think that was big for us throughout the year.”
Jackson has an NBA-record 10 titles as head coach while Gregg Popovich is second among active coaches with four. The Celtics are making their second trip to the NBA Finals in three years with Rivers as the coach and he is trying to join Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and K.C. Jones as Celtics coaches with two titles in three seasons.
|NBA rescinds Perkins technical||05.27.10 at 1:04 pm ET|
The Celtics and Kendrick Perkins received a reprieve from the NBA Thursday when the league rescinded one of the two technical fouls Perkins received in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, clearing Perkins to play in Game 6 on Friday.
Perkins and Marcin Gortat earned double-technicals early in the game and then Perkins was hit with a second one by official Eddie F. Rush with 36 seconds left in the half. Perkins was ejected after the second T, his seventh of the postseason, which triggered an automatic one-game suspension.
The league does review every technical foul that is called and they decided to rescind the second technical foul. Perkins still has six technicals against his name and would still be in danger of a suspension if he is hit with another one during the postseason.
In an eerie bit of foreshadowing, Doc Rivers spoke about the problems his team had with getting technicals, particularly Perkins, some two hours before it happened on the court.
‘I actually don’t like the rule, the suspension,” Rivers said. “I just don’t like it. I think the longer you are in the playoffs the more likely it’s going to affect your team. I think the fans want to see the best players on the floor. I just don’t agree with the whole suspension thing.’
Part of the problem, Rivers believes, lies in the process of issuing double technical fouls to players, a tactic used by officials to try to calm things down.
‘It’s the double tech thing that has to be resolved,’ Rivers said. ‘Sometimes the officials are just trying to clean the game up and an easy way to do it is give both guys techs and calm the game down. To me, those are the ones that we have to figure out a better way.’
The league also upgraded a personal foul on Paul Pierce to a Flagrant 1 after Pierce shoved J.J. Redick in the back in the fourth quarter. The NBA announced before Game 5 that they had upgraded fouls from Game 4 on Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Matt Barnes to Flagrant 1 status as well.
Players are assessed points for flagrant fouls (one point for a Flagrant 1 and two points for a Flagrant 2). If they hit three points, they are also subject to an automatic one-game suspension. Howard has two Flagrant Foul points.
|Pierce: ‘We can still take care of business’||05.25.10 at 1:18 am ET|
Paul Pierce knew exactly what was at stake Monday night when he dribbled and then lost the ball at the end of regulation.
It was a chance, with the game tied at 86-86, to make one more shot and put away the Magic in four straight games and advance to the NBA Finals. But instead he lost the ball and the Magic were able to stay alive in overtime, outscoring Boston, 10-6 and win 96-92 to force Game 5 Wednesday night in Orlando.
The Magic still trail 3-1 but all of sudden, with two of the next potential three games on Orlando’s home court, the perspective of the series has changed, if only slightly.
“They’re a great team. We’re not going to take them for granted so Game 5 is going to be a tough one on their floor,” Pierce said. “We didn’t want to go back on their floor to play but it is what it is but we’ve got to get another win in their building. That’s the goal.
“We really don’t want to come back here for Game 6. The sense of urgency is going to be there when we get on the road so hopefully, we can take care of business.”
Pierce also took responsibility for the final play of regulation that resulted in no shot for the Celtics and allowed the Magic to survive to overtime.
Pierce had the ball in his hands and was supposed to run a play that called for a pick and roll with Ray Allen but Pierce never got the ball to Allen and Jameer Nelson knocked it away and as time expired.
“We didn’t want to call a time out,” Pierce said the Celtics’ decision to forego a timeout. “It was a pick and roll, me and Ray Allen and I pretty much screwed it up, turned the ball over. That’s all it is, couldn’t get the final shot. Sometimes it happens that way. That’s no excuse and we still had opportunities in overtime and we didn’t take advantage.”
Pierce still finished with a team-high 32 points in over 46 minutes of action.
‘[It was] definitely a tough loss,” Pierce said. “You fight so hard to get back in the game and all the ties. I just think the little things hurt us. I thought we really pressed too much, each of us wanted to do it. We weren’t doing the things that got us the 3-0 lead. We kind of felt we was pressing to get the win. They’re a good team and they’re not going to lay down and we can expect them to so gotta move on to Game 5.
“At the end of the day, even though we struggled to get some momentum offensively it still doesn’t, we still didn’t play any defense down the stretch. We gave them a three, offensive rebounds and sent them to the line there in the 4th quarter and overtime. Those type of things hurt when you’re trying to come back. But we made our bed, we gotta lay in and move on.’
|For Celtics, there was much ado about Hedo||05.24.10 at 12:27 am ET|
WALTHAM — The sudden disappearance of Rashard Lewis is not the only thing missing from the Magic team that defeated the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
This time around they are playing without Hedo Turkoglu, who left Orlando last summer and signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors. Even though the Magic acquired Vince Carter in his place — a role Carter’s teammates say he has filled well — the Celtics have noticed a difference in matchups without Turkoglu on the court.
It is one they have benefited from in the conference finals.
‘Definitely with Turkoglu, he adds a size matchup being at 6-10 he can play the 2, the 3, the 1. Obviously, a walking matchup problem,’ Paul Pierce said following practice on Sunday. ‘I just think the things that he does playing with the ball and off the ball in the post, he’s one of the more versatile small forwards in the NBA and one of the toughest that I’ve seen to guard. Them not having him, I think it really works in our favor.’
Last season Turkoglu averaged over 16 points in the seven-game semifinals series. Not only did he score, he made it easier for his teammates to do so by spreading the floor. (In the deciding Game 7, Turkoglu scored 25 points while dishing 12 assists.)
Take Lewis as an example. This postseason series he is averaging just five points while shooting 25 percent from the field and going 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Even though he got more open looks last season because of Kevin Garnett‘s absence, the Celtics guarded him differently when Turkoglu was on the floor.
‘Turkoglu, one of the things I think he does so well is he’s a facilitator,’ said Doc Rivers. ‘He’s a big shot maker, but he is such a great passer with length. It’s tough to get deflections off Turkoglu, where all their other guys, you can get your hands up and you can get deflections. Turkoglu and LeBron [James] probably make the best cross-court passes in the league. So that’s been a little bit different for us. And Rashard is now at the 4, where really we played Turkoglu more at that position even though he was at the 3.’
|Celtics take credit where credit is due||05.23.10 at 3:41 pm ET|
‘I believe we deserve all the credit,’ Ray Allen said following practice on Sunday. ‘It’s only two teams playing. We’re putting them in the situation that they’re in, and we’re adjusting and trying to find the ways that we can confuse them as much as we can, and make it tough defensively on them and offensively. They’re not going out there and doing it to themselves.’
Following their Game 3 loss, the Magic conceded they have been outhustled and outplayed the entire series. Players were baffled by their collapse, saying they have not seen the real Magic team yet. Others said they are beating themselves.
But the Celtics are not paying attention to the downtrodden morale of their opponent.
‘None of my concern,’ said Kevin Garnett. ‘That’s them. That’s how they think. Nothing more, nothing less than that. I can’t really be worried with what they’re thinking over there and how they’re playing or what’s going through their head.’
The Celtics have made it this far by staying honed in on each other the entire postseason. Some questioned whether or not they would even survive the first round, let alone make it to the NBA Finals. Now that they are just 48 minutes away from advancing, they are focused on the confidence they have in one another, not the uncertainty felt by the Magic.
‘I didn’t have any doubts in this team,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘I never doubted us because I felt once we got to the playoffs, guys would be able to settle in a little more, travel wouldn’t be as much, we could really focus in on the team, and really do our scouting report. And I think just looking at a seven-game series, I always thought it’d be tough to beat us four times.’
The Heat and Cavaliers have already found out just how tough it is. The Celtics hope to teach the Magic the same lesson on Monday night.
|Five Reasons Why The Celtics Won Game 3||05.22.10 at 11:19 pm ET|
The Celtics are just a win away from the NBA Finals following a 94-71 win over the Magic on Saturday night, a victory that was exactly as close as the score revealed. The Magic never led in the contest, and the Celtics held a double-digit lead during the final 39 minutes of the game. Glen Davis led the Celtics with 17 points off the bench and Paul Pierce added 15. Rajon Rondo had 11 points and 12 assists for the winners. The defense has been the calling card of this team and it continued in Game 3, as the C’s held the Magic to 36.9 percent shooting.
Before tipoff, the formula for a Celtics victory on Saturday seemed simple. Hang in during the inevitable fast start from a Magic team that was playing for its postseason life and eventually wear down Orlando with defense and toughness. Turns out the group that played with desperation right from the start was the team up 2-0, and the defense and toughness never slowed down.
The Celtics led 27-12 after the first quarter, holding the Magic to just 23.5 percent shooting. The Magic’s three stars — Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis — scored a total of three points on 1-of-11 shooting in the quarter. The Celtics jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back, taking a 21-6 lead (following a 14-0 run) to, incredibly, basically put this game away. The opening 12 minutes told you all you need to know about both teams. One played with heart, urgency and smarts and the other played as if they were finishing up a home-and-home series with Memphis in February.
RONDO DOES HIS BEST LARRY LEGEND:
THE play of the series, without question, came in the second quarter when Rondo dove for a loose ball at the Magic foul line, taking the ball from Jason Williams (who, it appeared, didn’t feel much like hitting the floor). Rondo then got up, put a wicked cross-over on Williams and banked in a layup. Williams, it should be noted, put exactly the same amount of effort trying to defend Rondo as he did trying to get the loose ball. That kind of play by Rondo works perfectly when you need an example to show why one team is totally dominating the other in a series where the talent level doesn’t seem that different (though that can now be debated).
Through three games in this series, Rashard Lewis ($110 million) has scored a total of 15 points in 111 minutes played. That is two fewer points than Big Baby (two years, $6.3 million) scored in his 23:15 on the floor in Game 3. Davis also took nine free throw attempts in Game 3, one more than the entire Orlando starting five combined. And unlike Game 2, where he had trouble matching up with Howard physically, Davis did an expert job on the post defensively.
DWIGHT HOWARD: NON-FACTOR
Howard’s line in the most important game of his season: 3-of-10 from the floor, 1-of-4 from the free throw line, a plus/minus rating of -29 (worst of any player on the Magic in a game they lost by 23 points). Credit Perkins, Davis, Rasheed Wallace and the game plan but Howard has to take a hit. If you are going to be thought of as a truly great player that kind of effort cannot happen in a must win. Shades of LeBron in Game 5.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL:
This stat will probably be lost in all the postgame “What’s wrong with the Magic?/Are the Celtics better than 2008?” stuff, but maybe the biggest reason this was never a competitive game was the assist-to-turnover ratios of the teams. The Celtics finished with 23 assists and just eight turnovers, compared to a ghastly 10-17 mark for the Magic. Rondo, in fact, finished with two more assists than the Magic team.
|C’s anticipate changes, don’t care||05.21.10 at 2:50 pm ET|
The Celtics heard all that and frankly don’t really care how the Magic decide to match up with Pierce.
“Obviously they want to play better defensively, probably on me,” Pierce said Friday. “Who knows what they’re going to do as far as trapping and different matchups. We’re going to make some adjustments ourselves. We still feel like we haven’t played our perfect game yet. We’re still in search of that. It doesn’t affect anything that I’m trying to do offensively when we play the Magic.”
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy changed things up before Game 1 by having Barnes guard Ray Allen and Vince Carter on Pierce, who has turned Carter inside out by scoring 50 points on just 24 shots in the first two games.
“It doesn’t affect us,” Doc Rivers said. “When you’re down 2-0 you do make some changes. We have to anticipate that. But they’re not going to make many changes. We are who we are, they are who they are, they’re just going to try to do it better. Barnes or [Mikael] Pietrus will probably guard Paul. Vince will go to Ray. That’s how a lot of us thought it would start in the series and now they’re just going to back that.”
Rivers expects Orlando will try to go big with Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat playing a Twin Towers look and possibly Rashard Lewis sliding over to the 3-spot. But the Celtics won’t vary their personnel much, mainly because they can’t.
“Some teams have the ability to go big, small or change,” Rivers said. “We unfortunately, or fortunately, do not. We’re just going to be who we are and just be the best at that.”
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