|Time is now for Celtics||04.29.10 at 5:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You can tell just by the media crush at the Celtics training facility 12 miles west of Boston on Route 128 that there is a big series about to begin involving the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The quotes from the participants provide another good clue.
The two teams, as any basketball fan will recall, met in an epic seven-game series in the 2008 playoffs. The series wasn’t decided until the final 30 seconds of Game 7 at the Garden when Paul Pierce and the Celtics outlasted LeBron James and the Cavs.
Before that series, fans and experts hoped for a great series. This time, it’s almost expected. But that’s about where the comparisons end as far as the Celtics are concerned.
‘Two years ago was two years ago,” Pierce said. “They have new players, we have new players. This is a whole new team. This is a different type of team. They’ve got a lot of the same players, we have a lot of the same players but it’s just like you grow up. Things change, you become better. You can’t go off what you did in the past. There’s nothing to that last series.’
Kevin Garnett agreed.
‘They have better players,” Garnett said. “They have Shaq, they have guys that have been there. They have experienced players who were there two years ago. Delonte [West] is better. [Antawn] Jamison is there, has been through the grind. They have better players, more experienced people.’
When the Celtics open their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cavaliers on Saturday night in Cleveland, it will be the first time in the era of the new ‘Big 3’ they’re opening a playoff series on the road. It will also mark the second time in three seasons the two teams are meeting in the second round.
But whether opening at home or on the road – as will be the case this year – Ray Allen doesn’t believe Boston’s series triumph in 2008 will have much of an impact this time around.
‘I don’t really think it makes a difference,” Allen said following Thursday’s practice. “That was yesterday. Now we’re trying to do this all over again. I’m sure that they remember. Playoffs in their building is tough and we remember Game 7 [in Boston] very vividly but it’s a new series. Even if we did play them last year, it wouldn’t have made a difference then, either. They’re geared up against trying to get past us going to the conference finals. The ground has to give one way or another and we look forward to taking more ground.’
The Celtics were also asked to make another comparison – Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Cleveland’s James – and how beating the former might help them with the latter this series.
‘They’re not close at all, truthfully,” Pierce said. “They have better supporting players. LeBron is playing two or three other guys who have been in the All-Star Game. I can’t say that about Wade. The only similarity is they have one of the top scorers in the league. That’s it. You’re talking about two different players. They’re definitely focal points but other guys, you definitely have to worry about them. There are most consistent players in Cleveland and those guys can beat you also.’
‘LeBron’s a different beast,” added Garnett. “He’s obviously with a better cast than D-Wade. I think D-Wade is one of the best one-on-one players in our game. That’s true with LeBron but I think LeBron defers more to his teammates a little bit, with his supporting cast than D-Wade. He can turn around and he has 35, eight boards and nine assists. That means he’s all-around, not even mentioning the steals and blocks. He affects the game in so many different dimensions.’
|Pierce, KG, Rivers on Glen Davis||04.28.10 at 1:54 am ET|
|Paul Pierce press conference||at 1:51 am ET|
|Richardson: ‘Paul’s a great NBA player’||04.27.10 at 11:10 pm ET|
But on Tuesday, Richardson shared a different opinion after the Heat’s elimination in Game 5.
‘Paul’s a great NBA player,’ he told WEEI.com. ‘That’s the only opinion that really matters, his NBA game. He’s a good NBA player.’
Even though Richardson referred to Pierce as ‘an actress’ in Game 1, he said he never knocked his talent. That’s something that, in spite of their differences on the court, Richardson cannot deny.
‘I’ve always respected his game, never not,’ he said. ‘I mean, he’s an All-Star, he’s a Finals MVP, he has his accolades, and he well deserves them. I take my hat off to him as a basketball player. Nothing will change that.’
|Return trip not in plan for C’s||at 2:01 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The next time Paul Pierce visits South Florida, he wants to be on a beach having fun in the sun.
“There’s a lot of urgency,” Pierce said. “We don’t want to go to Miami. Hopefully the next time I go to Miami, I’ll be on vacation.”
While there was a lot of focus on the 46 points Wade put up in Game 4 on Sunday, on 16-of-24 shooting from the field, Pierce said it’s Wade’s supporting cast of Quentin Richardson and Michael Beasley that must be contained. And that starts with him.
“Other guys like [Carlos] Arroyo and Beasley can’t have big games for them,” Pierce said. “Wade is going to have the ball most of the time. You have to expect him [Wade] to have big numbers because of that. It’s the other guys definitely we have to shut down.”
While Arroyo was held to just six points in 21 minutes, Richardson and Beasley combined for 35 points while making a disturbing 13-of-27 shots from the field. That’s the stat that concerned coach Doc Rivers afterward and it’s what the Celtics must be aware of in Game 5 if they are to avoid the pain of getting on a plane Wednesday for South Florida.
Kevin Garnett had a slightly different take on what will be needed against the Heat. Garnett wants everyone to remember they can’t win the game by themselves.
“I thought, for the most part, everybody wanted to get this settled in Miami and we were trying to do it with one shot instead of one pass,” Garnett said. “We were one step late on a lot of rotations. They threw a zone at us and we were all out of whack with that.”
|Pierce: It’s a must win||04.24.10 at 4:58 pm ET|
MIAMI — The Celtics elected not to hold practice Saturday afternoon after taking Game 3 from Miami on a dramatic buzzer-beater by Paul Pierce to take a 3-0 lead in their series, but don’t mistake that for over-confidence.
“I’m looking at it like it’s a 3-3 tie,” Pierce said. “It’s a must game for us. We want to be desperate for this win. We don’t want them coming back to Boston with any kind of confidence. You never know what can happen in this league. They’ve got a great player in [Dwyane] Wade and a team that played well down the stretch”
Ray Allen equated it to running a marathon.
“You don’t win anything if you get four in the first round,” he said. “Winning three games doesn’t mean anything either. You can’t go around and be fuzzy because you’ve won a couple of game. We have to make sure that we follow through because it is a process. It’s like running a marathon. You’re not done until you cross the finish line. So we have a finish line and we have to cross it.”
Kevin Garnett was asked if winning this series would give the Celtics some momentum going forward. Predictably, he did not bite.
“At this point right now, man, we’re focused on the Heat,” Garnett said. “We’re not looking past this game. I’m not even going to indulge in any of that conversation. The focus right now is trying to win this game in Miami.”
|Fast Break: Celtics – Heat||04.23.10 at 10:03 pm ET|
There was nothing Dwyane Wade could do to stop it. Just seconds earlier, he had to be helped off the court after falling to the ground grabbing his knee following a 3-point attempt. As he sat on the sidelines, Paul Pierce ran the clock down, patiently waiting, and struck just as time expired. Pierce drained the game-winning buzzer-beater to give the Celtics a 100-98 victory and a commanding 3-0 series lead.
First Quarter: Wade scored 15 points (6-9 FG, 3-3 FT) in the first quarter alone to give the Heat a 29-27 lead over the Celtics. Although the C’s trailed, they fought a more balanced attack. Paul Pierce led the team with 9 points, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen had six apiece, and Kevin Garnett scored four. Defensively, Tony Allen, who contained Wade so well in Game 1, played just one minute during Wade’s performance in the first. The C’s were also outrebounded, 12-9.
Second Quarter: The first quarter was all Wade. In the second, he finally got some help. The Celtics jumped out on a 10-0 run over three minutes with Rondo leading the surge (he finished the half with a team-high 13 points). But Quentin Richardson stopped the damage with a 3-pointer and the Heat began their comeback. The Celtics were then outscored 15-7 and trailed, 49-48, at halftime. Wade went scoreless in seven minutes in the second, but the Heat’s bench outscored the Celtics reserves 23-6 in the first half to give them the edge.
Third Quarter: The Heat had the edge in the first two quarters, but the Celtics claimed the third. The C’s outscored the Heat, 32-23, to take a 80-72 lead going into the fourth. The Celtics went on an 11-2 run in the final 1:39, which was capped off with 3-pointer from Pierce with 1.7 seconds to go. The Celtics turnaround has been a team effort ‘ Allen (22 points), Pierce (21 points), Rondo (15 points), Garnett (12 points). Wade scored 13 in the quarter to lead all players with 28 points.
Fourth Quarter: The Celtics looked to put the game away as they got up by nine points. But it was Michael Beasley – not Wade – who dominated the fourth and got the Heat thisclose to a win. Beasley, who has struggled throughout the series, scored eight points in the fourth after scoring just eight in the first three quarters. The Heat went on a 16-6 run to reclaim the lead and the victory remained up for grabs until the very last second, literally.
Player of the Game: Pierce exemplified the meaning of a team captain and put the Celtics on his shoulders to hit the game-winning shot as time expired. He led the C’s with 32 points (11-23 FG, 4-10 3PG, 6-8 FT).
Turning Point: In what could be the turning point of the series, Wade injured his knee on a 3-point attempt. He fell to the ground and had to be helped off the court with 13 seconds left. There is no saying whether or not his presence on the court could have prevented Pierce from nailing the game-winner, but the potential of his injury has a major impact on Game 4 as the Heat face elimination on Sunday.
Up Next: The Celtics will fight to sweep the series on Sunday at 1pm in Game 4.
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