Tag:Boston Celtics
Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 12:54 am
 

Playoff Fix: Heat can slam door on Celtics

The Miami Heat get their first chance to close out the Boston Celtics in Game 5 on Wednesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.

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One Big Thing: Destiny? Our collective denial could end Wednesday night. For months, we've been assuming, hoping and praying that the Miami Heat -- the new-look superteam featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- wouldn't be able to pull this thing off, at least not immediately. They have no bench. Coach Erik Spoelstra isn't ready for the challenge. Too many injuries. Bosh was the wrong third wheel selection. Three star players can't overcome a team of five good players. Well, to this point, despite some ups and downs that we've catalogued in minute detail, we've been wrong. It's so painful to write that the keyboard is oozing blood.

The Heat have their first shot to get over the Boston Celtics hump ... and they've got a very, very good chance. At home. Momentum in their favor after an overtime victory in Boston. Rajon Rondo still limited by a dislocated elbow. Dominant home performances in Games 1 and 2 to turn to for motivation. The Celtics, one would think, won't bow out classlessly and disgracefully like the Los Angeles Lakers. But their clock is ticking loudly. The Heat seem poised for the next step.

The X-Factor: Boston's stuck between a rock and a hard place. Rondo is limited. Kevin Garnett has been up and down. Paul Pierce had back-to-back big games (27 points each in Games 3 and 4) but he can't match LeBron James play-for-play with the way James is playing right now. The great equalizer for the Celtics could be the three-ball, and that means one man: Ray Allen. Allen has caught fire just once this series, going for 25 points in a Game 1 loss. Since then, he's been uncharacteristically off, shooting a combined 11-30 (36.7%) from the field, far below his 49.1% season average. Miami has had its offense clicking much better at home (100.5 points per game) in this series than on the road (89.5 points per game). Given their bench's struggles, Allen's deadeye deep shooting is the most logical way for Boston to keep up amid a South Beach scoring frenzy.

The Adjustment: As expected, Spoelstra moved center Joel Anthony into the starting lineup for Game 4 and he was rewarded for that decision. While Anthony had just four points and four rebounds, he played 31 minutes and had two blocked shots. Both teams went smaller, ignoring Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal, and that played to Miami's advantage in a big way because Miami's more athletic forwards -- James and Bosh -- were able to wreak some havoc. Miami dominated on the glass, 45 to 28, and scored 48 points in the paint to Boston's 32. James and Bosh combined for 26 of those rebounds.

Most importantly, Anthony helped the Heat avoid falling into big deficits in the first and third quarter, as had been happening when Ilgauskas started. The Heat did get behind 9-2 to open Game 4 but pulled back quickly to trail by just one point nine minutes into the game. Then, Miami actually went on a 13-4 run to start the third quarter. Anthony finished with a +/- of 0 which is a huge win for Miami, given that Ilgauskas finished with a -19 as the starter in the Game 3 loss.

The Sticking Point: Where is the world is Glen Davis? Boston's reserve big man -- who has been an X-factor in the past, even if he's a bit of a goof -- has been non-existent in this series, averaging just 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes. Compare those figures to his season averages -- 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 31.2 minutes -- and you realize the magnitude of the loss of production and playing time. It's not like Celtics coach Doc Rivers can't use him, either. The trust factor just isn't there right now. Davis has look out-of-sync, off-kilter and low on confidence and the intensity of this series, plus the lack of an obvious defensive match-up for him on the Heat side, has made shortening his minutes a fairly easy decision for Rivers. A big surprise performance from Big Baby in Game 5 would be a much needed life preserver for the Celtics.

CBSSports.com Video: Here's CBSSports.com's Ken Berger with a video preview of Game 5 with Lauren Shehadi.


Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Kevin Garnett's last stand

On the brink of elimination, with his career's legacy on the line, and after a dreadful performance in Game 4, Kevin Garnett has to be the emotional and physical leader for the Celtics or face the reality that the game, and the Heat, have passed him by. 
Posted by Matt Moore





We didn't finish strong.  Lost and now am down 3-1.  Guys battled, but mental errors.  Had to have that one.  Now we gotta have the rest of these.  Heading to Miami in the am.  Tough loss.  Real tough loss. Gotta win 3 now.  All the pressure is on now.


via Kevin Garnett's blog

For one of the greatest players in NBA history, coming off of arguably his best game in the playoffs, "tough" probably doesn't begin to describe Game 4. In Game 3, Garnett dominated from start to finish, making Chris Bosh into shark bait.  In Game 4, he finished 1-10, Chris Bosh scored 20, Bosh out-rebounded him, and scored the key tip-in to seal the game for the Heat. And to top it all off, it was Garnett's indecision and lack of focus on the Celtics' final play in overtime that prevented Paul Pierce from getting to his sweet spot, forcing him to his left for a desperate fadeaway. 



From Celtics blog Reds Army:
It looks like KG started to run to set the pick a little earlier than he should... so he stopped.  Then Ray trying to create the misdirection hes talking about in the quote got tangled up with KG and actually picked him as KG was heading towards Paul.  By that time theres 4 seconds on the clock and Paul felt like he had to do something. Then the frustration boils over and Pierce gives the very demonstrative "what are you doing?" to KG and Ray....
via Your Morning Dump... Where "All the pressure is on now" - RedsArmy.com - The Voice Of Celtics Fans.

What's stunning is how much hinges on this series for the Celtics' career. Garnett is a Hall of Famer based off his individual accomplishments and his championship ring from 2008. But for all the grief the Heat received for their talk about multiple titles, the Celtics' Big 3 didn't come together for a single title. They know that multiple rings are what they need to be considered truly great, especially as Celtics. But for all their success, should the Heat knock Garnett and the Celtics out, they'll have only one ring.  Which is more than most players ever see, even the great ones. But the Celtics' level of success is determined by that higher standard. 

Furthermore, to lose like this, to the Heat, with the Celtics exposed as too old, too unathletic, too desperate to hold the line against the uber-talented Triad which had announced its championship intentions in the East, the Celtics' turf, is unbearable. Garnett has always been the fiercest competitor, the one barking, yelling, starting fights (if not finishing), and making the commitment on defense so many stars never could or would. But in this series, he's finding the Heat just a step quicker, just a bit faster, just a touch stronger.  

The Celtics' strength has always been greater than just its talent. They have been fueled by chemistry, by leadership, by commitment. But with the loss of Kendrick Perkins, that chemistry seems to have fractured. Instead of barking out orders in huddles and being the emotional nexus for the Celtics' intensity, we see Garnett struggling to face the reality: his time as the fiercest lion in the jungle may be over. 

The Celtics aren't dead yet. Despite the Heat finally closing out the Celtics, on the Boston floor, no less, the Celtics still have a pulse. Win Game 5, force it back to Boston, protect your homecourt, and you've got a Game 7. It's just a two game winning streak they need to tie the series. Garnett has to lead that final charge up the hill. It has to be him, relentless in the post, nailing the turnaround, suffocating Bosh, protecting teammates' defensive struggles with help rotations, barking out orders. Paul Pierce is an All-Time Celtic. Ray Allen is the tip of the spear for one of the most lethal shooting systems in the league. Rajon Rondo is playing heroic basketball with one arm. But it's got to be Garnett. This is his legacy that's on the line, and it's under attack thanks to the three players who copied he, Allen and Pierce's schematic and started celebrating before they had even faced the Celtics. With a lockout on the horizon that could possibly shorten or end his career, with the reality of the Celtics' inevitable need to blow it up and start over looming, with his physical fuse running out, Garnett will not have another shot at winning a title as a featured component. It's got to be him, and it's got to be now. 

This is Kevin Garnett's last stand. 
Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:27 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 2:41 am
 

LeBron James apologizes for 'retarded' comment

LeBron James has apologized for calling a reporter's question "retarded." Posted by Ben Golliver. lebron-james

Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James did something that wasn't very smart the other day, whispering under his breath during the Game 3 post-game press conference that he felt a reporter's question was "retarded." 

The question concerned how Dwyane Wade would respond to the assertion that he was responsible for a dirty play when he got tangled up with Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who dislocated his elbow during the incident.

For a guy that wants to be a global icon so badly that he created a children's cartoon with four different versions of himself, it was an unusually public politically incorrect turn.

Following Game 4, in which James led the Heat to a road victory over the Boston Celtics, TheScore.com reported that James issued an apology for his use of the word.
"First of all…I want to apologize for using the R-word after Game three. If I offended anyone I sincerely apologize."
The apology comes one day after James first took questions on the subject at Miami's shootaround, pleading ignorance and providing an explanation, but stopping short of an apology.

The Palm Beach Post provides those quotes.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” 
When it was explained further, he added: “I didn’t understand the question. You know, it’s definitely blown out of proportion. I don’t think Dwyane is a dirty player. So it’s the same as me saying to you, I don’t think that’s a great question, or I think it’s a stupid question. Dwyane has never been a dirty player, so I don’t know why someone would even ask him that question.”
Was Monday night's apology a preemptive strike to avoid additional questions on the subject or a sincere realization that he had spoken out of turn earlier? 

Who knows. But it was the politically correct step to take, so we shouldn't be surprised that James eventually got there.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:02 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Udonis Haslem finally active for the Heat

Posted by Royce Young

All season long, there has been talk about the Heat's role players, or lack thereof. Bench production has been an issue for a while. Outside of the so-called Big Three (or Big Two and Chris) the Heat struggle with answers.

A reason for that? Probably their best role player has been hurt most of the season.

But he's finally back tonight in uniform as Udonis Haslem is active for Game 4 against the Celtics.

Haslem has been out since November because of foot surgery and has flirted numerous times with coming back. He targeted a return to begin the playoffs, but wasn't ready. Then he wanted to make his first appearance in the second round. Not ready.

Now, evidently he is. And it'll be very interesting to see what he adds. His health and effectiveness as a result of that is the first question but let's not forget that Haslem is a pretty darn good big man. He gives the Heat a much better bench immediately and a lot more depth up front. No more will it be Juawn Howard logging big minutes behind Chris Bosh. Those will go to Haslem -- depending on health of course.

How many minutes he gets is another question, but even if it's just five, that's better than five more to Howard or overplaying Bosh.

Haslem's a tough, rugged power forward that is tough on the glass and has a nifty little 15-20 foot jumper. He's good as a bailout option late in the clock and can buy extra possessions hitting the offensive boards. Is he a major, series-swinging difference? Most likely not. But with Haslem, the Heat are better than without him. They're deeper, tougher and have a much improved front line to trot out.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:25 am
 

Playoff Fix: Will the legend of Rondo grow?

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: Amazing how a series can turn a bit just on one win. The Heat still have commanding control, but things feel like they're turning a little bit for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo played terminator, coming back from an ugly elbow injury to spark Boston to a big finish. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett played big time games. And the Heat's big guns weren't so big. Chris Bosh even admitted he felt nervous and rattled early on in the game. (Good idea letting that out, Chris.)

A lot of people were prepared to pile on and declare the Celtics sunk after starting out 0-2. But all it takes is another win tonight and things are even all over again.

The X-Factor: Rondo's left elbow, duh. Well not really, but Rondo's health is the question. He's almost definitely playing and while he finished with a flurry in Game 3, it'll be interesting to see if he can gut it out again after DISLOCATING HIS ELBOW just two days ago. Without Rondo, the Celtics are absolutely not the Celtics. Having him on the floor is an emotional kick and even one-armed, makes the Celtics much, much more dangerous.

The Adjustment: The Heat simply have to play better. That's not a big, smart adjustment, but they didn't execute, didn't take good shots, didn't move the ball and just played really uncomposed basketball. Fifteen turnovers, 23 3-point attempts and only 19 free throw attempts say a lot. Now most would say you're not going to get calls in Boston, but you still have to attack towards the rim. Settling for outside jumpers isn't a winning strategy for the Heat, especially against the Celtics.

The Sticking Point: I'm not sure Boston can really count on 55 combined points from Garnett and Pierce again tonight. LeBron and Wade combined for just 38. That doesn't seem likely to happen again either.

So this game really comes down to Rondo's health and the role players. Bosh was awful in Game 3 (1-6, six points) but the Heat stayed somewhat in the game because Miami's bench -- specifically Mario Chalmers -- hit some shots. Don't think they can bank on that either. Boston beats the Heat when Miami can't score. Once the Miami offense is frustrated, its defense opens up. The Celtics are very good at home and that arena is still cooking after what happened with Rondo's comeback in Game 3. Emotion sometimes is the greatest trump card and that's in the Celtics corner right now.
Posted on: May 8, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 10:40 am
 

Rondo, West expected to play Game 4 after MRIs

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers says Rajon Rondo and Delonte West will play in Game 4 following MRIs. Posted by Ben Golliver.
rajon-rondo-elbow

UPDATE: Rondo was given an X-ray, MRI and CT scan and all results were negative. He's being officially listed as questionable for Game 4.

During Saturday's Game 3 against the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics guards Rajon Rondo and Delonte West both went down with injury. For Rondo, it was a gruesome dislocated elbow  while West suffered a shoulder injury just before halftime.

Boston.com reports that both players underwent MRIs and that Celtics coach Doc Rivers expects both to be available to play in Monday night's Game 4, although he expressed a bit of apprehension regarding Rondo. 
"Right now we're going with they're all playing," said Rivers, who was including Shaquille O'Neal. "Hopefully we'll know something by the end of our film session. Obviously (Rondo's elbow) was far more painful today, a lot of swelling."
"If he can't help our team (Rondo won't play)," the coach said. "And if he can play, how well can he play and will he help or hurt our team? No. 1, we're not going to hurt the player and we're not going to do anything to hurt the team. It may not be until game time and the game until we find that out. Right now, that may be the case. I am optimstic about both, that they're going to play." 
Here's video of Rondo's gruesome injury which occurred after he got tangled up with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.



If both Rondo and West are unable to go, look for the Celtics to activate reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo, who played for the Heat earlier this season.

For more on Rondo's heroic return, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has you covered .
Posted on: May 8, 2011 12:30 am
Edited on: May 8, 2011 12:49 am
 

Miami Heat fizzle in nightmare Game 3 at Boston

The Miami Heat crash-landed in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. Posted by Ben Golliver.
dwyane-wade-fall


Game 3, in many ways, saw the Miami Heat's greatest fears realized ... and all of them on the same night. Chris Bosh didn't show up. The role players didn't play their roles. The questionable starting lineup was worse than usual. And neither LeBron James nor Dwyane Wade was capable of an explosive performance to carry all that dead weight.

With the 97-81 home win on Saturday, the Boston Celtics chipped into Miami's series lead, narrowing the gap to 2-1, and took a huge swipe at the Heat's building confidence.

The loss, apparently, is sending Heat coach Erik Spoelstra back to the drawing board. Asked by the Associated Press whether he would consider a starting lineup change, Spoelstra said, "I will evaluate everything, A to Z." Of course there's only two players to evaluate -- Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- and that process is sure to be an ugly one.  Bibby contributed just five missed shots, one assist and one turnover in 14 minutes, while Ilgauskas played just eight minutes on Saturday and is now just 2-9 on the series. 

Not much is expected from either player, but it doesn't help that their backups are playing solid basketball. Mario Chalmers had 17 points in Game 3 after being relatively ineffective in the first two. Joel Anthony, meanwhile, had a career night, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. In deciding whether to move one or both to the starting lineup, Spoelstra is balancing whether that would overly frontload his rotation. With such a short bench, Spoelstra needs any punch he can get from his second unit, and with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh already starting, the point guard and center aren't asked to do much more than knock down open shots and finish at the rim, respectively. 

Nevertheless, Miami found itself in an 18-7 hole early, and Boston began the third quarter on a 14-4 run. Those are major deficits, and are very difficult to overcome, especially on the road. 

Anthony, in particular, probably deserves the nod, given that he's already playing starter-type minutes. Spoelstra could then save Ilgauskas to match up with whatever minutes Shaquille O'Neal plays, allowing the two hulking veteran centers to cancel each other out. When it comes to Bibby, there's no easy answer: He's shooting an abominable 26.3% in the playoffs. There's no hiding that type of performance, especially against Boston's defense.

Bigger than the lineup issues was the predictable disappearance of Chris Bosh. Bosh was eaten alive by Kevin Garnett, who had a season-high 28 points and 18 rebounds. In contrast, Bosh tallied a season-low six points while grabbing just five rebounds. For a player that's battled back against criticism that he comes up small in big moments and is overly passive, he came up microscopic in a huge moment and was as passive as it gets. Bosh's Game 3 was a transcontinental pipeline to help give fuel to his haters.

No play better encapsulated Bosh's night than Rajon Rondo's miracle steal and dunk. After leaving earlier with a dislocated elbow that was popped back into place by Boston's training staff, Rondo caught Bosh napping. As Bosh went to track down a loose ball near halfcourt at half-speed, Rondo jumped him, picking Bosh cleanly before heading in for an uncontested dunk. The play began when Jeff Green over-played the passing lane to tip Bosh's lazy pass, and Bosh's effort to recover from that mistake lacked urgency and awareness. He has to do better. There's no excuse.



The struggles from Miami's role players and Bosh's wilting performance are a reminder that Miami isn't yet a monolith, or even a Goliath. They're a two-headed monster capable of playing a more athletic game than any other team in the league, but also one that over-relies on James and Wade to a precarious degree.

If there's a silver lining to Saturday's loss for the Heat, it's Rondo's injury. Without question, he will be limited for the remainder of the series and his ability to shoot the ball, which was already in question, will be virtually eliminated. Miami should be able to make the necessary defensive adjustments to capitalize on that fact: overplaying the passing lanes, pressuring Rondo as he brings the ball up the court, overplaying his right hand mercilessly and daring him to shoot from the perimeter.

In addition to Rondo's status, Miami still has plenty to bank on: homecourt advantage, the fact that Boston played with a do-or-die urgency that will be difficult to replicate multiple times, and, of course, the James/Wade combination. In other words, Saturday wasn't a knockout blow for the Heat, but it is gut check time. It's going to be a long haul to close the door on the Celtics, and it's surely going to take more than two guys to get it done.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 11:37 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 12:18 am
 

NBA Playoffs Heat-Celtics: Rondo is tough

Rajon Rondo returns from a dislocated elbow to help lead the Celtics to a Game 3 win vs. the Heat. How does it stack up versus history? Are we getting ahead of ourselves?
Posted by Matt Moore

Listen, I'm supposed to exaggerate this for you. I'm supposed to throw you comparisons to the "Flu Game," Willis Reed's return, or Isiah Thomas' ankle.  But I'd be doing you a disservice if I did. If I simplified what happened when Rajon Rondo dislocated his elbow (here's a lovely image, warning, graphic) to those other performances, I'd be ignoring some relevant facts that make this at the same time more, and less, impressive than those other historic performances. 

Consider the following which takes some of the glory out of Rondo's performance: 

  • Rondo finished with six points, three rebounds, 11 assists, and five turnovers. That's a great number of assists, especially considering the time he was gone, but not herculean. It wasn't Jordan's 38-7-5. 
  • It wasn't in a championship game, like Willis Reed's or Isiah Thomas'. The fact that it came in a semifinals game, no matter the opponent, puts it at a level beneath. 
  • We won't know how big his performance was until after this season is over. If Rondo's gutsy strength is what makes the difference in the Celtics' drive to the title, then it becomes much bigger. Memorable, sure, but only if the Celtics succeed not only in this series, but the next two. 
  • Rondo will be credited with creating the Celtics' comeback. In reality, the Celtics were already leading by 10 after storming out of the gate at halftime when Rondo went down. This isn't to say that Rondo's injury didn't cause the Celtics to rally around their emotional core, or that he didn't help them to hold onto the lead with his leadership. It's just that to say the Celtics were doomed before Rondo valiantly returned is a falsehood. 

That said, give these elements some thought as well:

Rajon Rondo is the youngest member of the Celtics' starting five. He has been buried at times in this series and late in the season for his mental and emotional disappearing act. He has been called out for acting childish, particularly in regards to his reaction to the trade of Kendrick Perkins, his close friend. And in a game which the Celtics absolutely could not afford to lose, Rondo not only returned from an injury which, as a player with a bright future ahead of him, and considering the severity of the injury (he dislocated his freaking arm), he had no obligation to return from. But he came back, and when he did, he played with intensity and dedication. He was essentially one-armed for the majority of his playing time and continued to command the Celtics to cut the series deficit to 2-1. 

Michael Jordan? The flu is terrible, it's tough, and Jordan's game was better. But IV fluids and the body's natural fight against disease can allow adrenaline to overcome it. Rondo's physical ability to function through the use of his arm was impaired. Willis Reed returned and made little impact to the game. He primarily serves as an iconic image, his jog from the locker room the first such image in league history to be recorded in such a big game. Isiah Thomas? Well, no one likes Isiah Thomas at this point, and ankle injuries? Who hasn't gotten an ankle injury and played through it? 

Rondo dunked. With one arm, essentially. And afterwards, instead of basking in his own toughness, or acknowledging how much pain he was in. Instead of using a humble brag to capitalize on his image, he said this:



Rajon Rondo is moody, acerbic, tough to figure out, and can infuriate Celtics fans with his inconsistency. But in Game 3 against the Miami Heat, with the Celtics desperate for a hero (and getting several), Rajon Rondo became that savior. That's not an exaggeration or cliche. Rondo fought through an incredibly tough injury (he dislocated his freaking arm, popped it back in, then played through it, for crying out loud) and may have saved the Celtics' season. 

Toughness is a core value of the Boston Celtics. And when they needed it most, the enigmatic point guard showed up and led by example, through toughness. 

Game 4 is Monday. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com