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Game 2: Rondo, Rondo, Rondo 05.29.12 at 7:45 pm ET
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The Heat made Rajon Rondo play in a crowd in Game 1. (AP)

MIAMI — Just about everyone would take the following stat line from their point guard: 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. But Rajon Rondo is not just anyone, and for the Celtics to hobble their way out of Miami with a series split, he has to play much better in Game 2.

Rondo had a horrid start to the opener, with all four of his turnovers coming in the first quarter. Then, he turned it on in the next 12 minutes, scoring eight points and handing out four assists while the Celtics tricked the game up with a number of smaller lineups featuring four wing players on the court at the same time. “Fools gold,” Doc Rivers called it.

That’s not sustainable, and the Heat got them out of that early in the second half, when coach Erik Spoelstra put Dwyane Wade on Rondo and kept him 10 feet off the ball. Rondo’s seen that defense before and while giving him room can allow him to pick defenses apart with his passing, it doesn’t work if, A) the defender is as big and talented as Wade, and B) no one on the Celtics can make a shot.

Wade was allowed to roam, which disrupted passing lanes, timing and whatever rhythm is left in the Celtics’ offense. Rivers said after the game that he thought Rondo let his analytical side take over instead of just relying on his speed and instincts.

“You can’t read [defenses] and play a speed at the same time,” Rivers said. “We got through it a lot: ‘Rondo, just trust your instincts. Your speed has to be part of it, your instincts will take over, you’ll make the right decisions.’ We have to give him more room and guys have to hit shots.”

Asked how many defensive looks they threw at him, Rondo deadpanned, “Fourteen.” But given a day and half to prepare, he should have a better plan of attack.

“You could say that, but teams make adjustments,” he said. “They may guard me the same Game 2, they may not. They may throw some different things at me. At the end of the day, you got to make changes throughout the game. You can’t just come into a gameplan and stick to it, because good teams in the conference finals will make adjustments.”

True enough, but Rondo has to be on it from the opening tip if the Celtics are going to have a chance, and Boston has to help him by getting defensive rebounds and getting the ball to him quickly in transition. The Heat have made stopping him their top priority and 16-9-7 isn’t going to cut it. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Brandon Bass, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen
Ray Allen searching for ways to fix free throw woes at 3:14 am ET
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Ray Allen

MIAMI — Ray Allen doesn’t miss free throws, and when he does he usually finds the flaw quickly and corrects it. But after missing four more against Miami in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, he’s now shooting 60 percent at the line this postseason.

“It’s hard to say,” Allen said. “I know I don’t have good timing right now. I know the shot feels fine. If it’s short I know I do have less lift on it. It’s just timing. It’s just rhythm. It’s just getting shots up. Trying to understand what I have, what my lift is. I just take it day by day and try to figure what I’m dealing with.”

Allen was the first player out of the locker room at halftime, and he went straight to the free throw line, where he got up more shots. That’s his answer to everything — more work — but the bone spurs on his ankle clearly have affected his shooting from all areas of the court. He made only one of his seven field goal attempts, and since going 7-for-14 in Game 2 against Philadelphia, he is 13-for-43 overall and just 6-for-25 from 3-point range.

“He got a bunch of wide-open shots tonight,” Doc Rivers said. “With him it’s just balance.”

Allen’s shot appeared to be off line most of the time. Usually he misses by a matter of degrees. Lately it’s been off by several inches.

“I believe you guys know what I’m dealing with,” Allen said. “There’s nothing really to talk about. It’s like a battle within myself that I have to try and win. It’s a daily situation that I have to deal with, and this is the time that I have to be out here and do what I can to try and help this team win. When the season’s over with I have to deal with whatever I have to deal with personally. You always talk, if it was the playoffs would you play? It’s the playoffs.”

Read More: Ray Allen,
Doc Rivers calls his technical ‘worst I’ve ever had’ at 12:03 am ET
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Doc Rivers is not happy about the technical foul he received from Ed Malloy during Monday night's game in Miami. (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his displeasure with his technical foul very clear following a Game 1 loss to the Heat at American Airlines Arena in South Florida. Rivers was whistled for a technical foul by referee Ed Malloy with 3:13 left in the second quarter when he uttered the words, “Come on, Ed.”

“I know mine wasn’t [deserved],” Rivers said. “I don’t know how long I’ve been in the league, but that has to rank as the worst I’ve ever had. I would have liked to have earned it.”

Malloy called a technical foul on Rivers and then called one on Rajon Rondo midway through the third after Rondo and Shane Battier became entangled after a Brandon Bass basket. Rondo appeared to push Battier away, trying to get loose. Earlier in the game, referee Danny Crawford called a tech on Ray Allen after Allen was demonstrative after a call on him. Crawford then whistled Kevin Garnett for a delay of game technical for tapping the ball out of bounds after a Celtics basket.

“We should never get them, I told our guys,” Rivers said, before adding, “Everybody has to keep their composure, not just just the players and coaches.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Game 1 pregame: Ray Allen remains in the starting lineup 05.28.12 at 12:44 pm ET
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The Celtics will be watching Ray Allen closely as the Eastern Conference finals tip off Monday night. (AP)

MIAMI — The Celtics honestly don’t know what to expect from Ray Allen on a game-by-game basis, but they’re not ready to make a change. Asked if he considered starting Mickael Pietrus ahead of Allen, coach Doc Rivers said, “No. We’re going to stay the way we are.”

Still, there is concern over Allen who was challenged defensively against the 76ers and will be facing a far-greater problem in guarding Dwyane Wade who scored 99 points in Miami’s final three games against the Pacers.

“It’s tough. Really, you don’t know,” Rivers said. “We don’t know game to game with him. We don’t know how he’s feeling, then we don’t know how he’s going to deal with it during the game. The way we coached him so far, is with the eye that’s how we have to coach him. We have to watch him. If we feel like he’s moving enough to help us, we keep him on the floor. If he’s not moving enough, then we take him off the floor.

“Then the second decision is, do we put him back on the floor. It’s every game — in Game 7, the argument our staff was having. ‘Take him off, take him out, bring him in.’ Honestly, it’s just luck sometimes. We left him in and he made two 3’s. But the hook was close, I can tell you that.”

Despite their injuries, the Heat are not overlooking the Celtics by any means.

“We understand the challenges we have ahead of us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They have championship experience. You can not discount that. They’ve proven that in the last two series, everyone was counting them out. They’re exactly where they want to be. Everybody counting them out and claiming that they’re this or they’re that. They’re not. That’s how they’ve been able to win. They grind games. They do it with their defense and they do it with timely offense.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James
Ray Allen proves to Doc Rivers that he’s the ‘ultimate gunslinger’ 05.27.12 at 2:49 am ET
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After starting Game 7 by missing eight of his first nine shots, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range, Ray Allen picked a great time to get hot.

He hit a three with 9:51 left that sent the Garden into pandemonium and gave the Celtics a 60-54 lead over the Sixers. The Celtics missed their first 14 3-pointers before Allen connected from beyond the arc. As the Sixers drew to within three again, Bass hit two free throws and Allen drained another three with 5:52 left to extend the lead to eight, 69-61. Again pandemonium and again, all Doc Rivers could do was sit back and appreciate Allen’s resiliency.

“Well Ray is the ultimate gun slinger,” Rivers said. “I mean, really. That’s what makes great players great. You know, I was a basketball player one day. And I would’ve never taken that shot late in the game like Ray, after missing my first 15. First of all, I wouldn’t have been in. But you know what I mean; a lot of guys – you’ve got to have a set to do that, you really do. It was just impressive.”

What really made this impressive was how much pain Allen was fighting in his right ankle.

‘You know I took him out that one stretch, and remember he had back-to-back plays where he was wide-open and passed up the shot,” Rivers said. “And when we took him out I went over to him and said, ‘Hey, listen, we’re not going to have that.’ And he just said, ‘My foot’s killing me. I need a break. I’m good.’ And I told him again, I said, ‘Ray, listen, you don’t ever pass up shots.’ The biggest part was Rondo went over there and told him the same thing, which I thought was great for Ray to hear, confidence-wise. And then Kevin went over and told him. I thought that was big for him to hear.

“I was worried about him because I know him now and I saw the last four, five minutes if you watch him he was starting to shake his foot, which has been a sign that time to get him out. But you know, I told him that; I said, ‘Hey are you alright?’ He said, ‘I’m alright after we win this game. He just said it, ‘Leave me in; I’m good. So that was good.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA playoffs
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 »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA playoffs, Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce on Game 7: ‘I like our chances’ at 5:14 pm ET
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WALTHAM — If you go by Friday, the Celtics appeared to be calm, cool, collected and oh yes, confident, on the eve of their sixth Game 7 in the “Big Three” era.

The group of Paul Pierce, Greg Stiemsma and Ray Allen and assistant coach Tyronn Lue held a fun competition before Friday’s practice, as all right-handed shooters shot free throws with their left hands. Interestingly, Allen was the first to bow out, as he moved on to the more mundane effort of practicing shooting before the practice began.

The captain knows what’s at stake Saturday night at 8 p.m. as they take on the Sixers in Game 7 of the Eastern semifinals.

“Of course, we’re at home but they’ve beaten us on our home court,” Pierce said, referring to the 82-81 loss in Game 2. “You still have to go out and play the game but I feel good. A couple of days rest for a veteran team, much needed. I like our chances.

“I think we’ll come out with a great sense of urgency. It’s Game 7, there’s no tomorrow. In order for us to advance, we have to give it our all. We have to give it everything we’ve got. We need everything from everybody, whoever steps on that court to understand that this is it, this could be the season. That’s the way we have to play. We have to play like a desperate team, whether we’re at home or not. The team that wants it the most is going to get it.”

Overall, Pierce is 3-3 in Game 7s in his career. He lost his first in 2005 to the Pacers. Then, he won three straight, starting with wins over the Hawks and Cavaliers in 2008 on the way to his lone NBA title. Pierce led the charge over the Bulls in the first round in seven games in 2009 before falling to the Magic in a seventh game in the next round.

The most painful of all Game 7 losses, however, came the next year as the Celtics had the lead with six minutes left but couldn’t hold on and lost 83-79 to the Lakers in the final game of the 2010 NBA finals. Pierce has thrived in do-or-die games for the most part, including his 43 points in the fifth and deciding game of the 2002 first round series against Philadelphia.

“I like challenges,” Pierce said Friday. “I like being in pressure situations. It’s Game 7. I’ve been there before. I understand what it takes and I’m ready for it.

“It’s got to be a motivated group. What else is there? Game 7, what more could you ask for? If this is not the most important thing to you right now, then there’s no other way to motivate basketball players out here. Nobody wants to end their season right now. We have a great opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference finals on our home court. That’s all the motivation we need.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA playoffs, Paul Pierce
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