Tag:Pat Riley
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. 
Posted on: May 7, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 10:13 pm
 

Rajon Rondo suffers arm injury vs. Heat

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a left arm injury against the Miami Heat in Game 3. Posted by EOB staff.

Update 10:11 p.m.: Rondo returned to the bench at the end of the third quarter, and appears to be trying to flex out his arm. Ken Berger of CBSsports.com reports that Rondo dislocated his elbow, but it was popped in. He wants to play. Which is a little insane and impressive.  

In the third quarter of the Celtics' Game 3 vs. Miami, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo were tangled up on a possession. Rondo was half wrapped around Wade, and when Wade tripped/fell his arm wrapped around Rondo and carried him to the floor underneath him. Rondo attempted to catch himself with his right arm, and landed with full weight on the arm, which popped out in a manner that very much suggested a break, or at the very least a hyper-extended elbow. It was ugly.

Rondo was helped off the floor by Celtics' staff. We'll update with any information as it comes available. 

Here's video of the incident.



Posted on: May 7, 2011 9:25 am
Edited on: May 7, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Playoff Fix: The Celtics' line in the sand

The Celtics need someone to step up in a big way, and for Shaq to make an impact, and to create more turnovers, and... you get the idea. 
Posted by Matt Moore




One Big Thing: The time for equal contributions has past. The Celtics need a hero. Someone has to step up and lead the way for Boston, because for the first time, Ubuntu may be outmatched. Offensive distribution and suffocating defense are both great plans in 99 percent of all matchups, but for whatever reason, the Heat have stormed the barricades in this series. Now the Celtics are going to have to fight them out and, to do so, someone's going to have to set the example. Whether that's Paul Pierce having a game befitting his status as one of the greatest true Celtics ever, a bully-in-the-schoolyard rampage by Kevin Garnett, or Rajon Rondo getting back to being the brilliant distributor and triple-double machine he can be, someone's going to have to put in a special type game. It's not that the other Celtics can't contribute. It's that they have been and the Celtics are still losing. It's time for someone on Boston to make a statement that says "We're still here, and we're not going down like this."

The X-Factor: Shaquille O'Neal is expected to play Saturday for the first time in the playoffs and what feels like the first time in a decade. O'Neal isn't going to save the Celtics. But he can come out and set the tone. In reality, O'Neal's no longer the defender or rebounder he once was. But he can, surprisingly, score. And there's no one on the Heat that can handle his girth. O'Neal's going to take more possessions than he really needs to, but if he can bring out the old bull in a china shop act for a few drop hooks, that could get the crowd, the energy, and the momentum on the Celtics side. O'Neal can't lead the Celtics through the gate. He can bust the gate open with his backside, though. 

The Adjustment: The Celtics' defensive principles all revolve around position. Get to the spot before your man does. Get a hand up where he wants the ball to go. Contest, contest, contest. But with the Heat having turned the ball over on less than 15 percent of all possessions in this series, the time may have come to start attacking the ball. The Celtics need to disrupt the Heat's offense and get easy buckets of their own. In short, things have got to come a little easier for the Celtics and be a little more frustrating for the Heat. 

The Sticking Point: The Heat are doing it. They're winning with huge contributions from the Triad, playing great defense, and getting the wins. We've yet to see a Heat team really close when down in the 4th to a great team, but the Heat are starting to change the narrative about them in regards to their ability to step up in big situations. Game 3 in Boston will be the stiffest test yet. 
Posted on: May 6, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: May 6, 2011 10:20 am
 

Championship teams suffering emotional issues

Lakers, Celtics dealing with emotional upheaval in the midst of biggest playoff challenge outside of Finals. 

Posted by Matt Moore




You'd think that being the older, more experienced teams would grant them some perspective on the ups and downs of the NBA playoffs. You'd think having walked through the fires of the championship forge would grant them a solidarity. You would think that all the talk of chemistry and how much the team members like one another wouldn't be affected by a few losses or some bouts of poor play. 

You'd be wrong. 

Wednesday night, the Lakers were dealing with what Andrew Bynum referred to as "trust issues." This from a team that won the title eleven months ago. What, did the reality show really change Lamar all of a sudden? Is he just not the down-to-earth player he was when he was younger, as in, 12 months before? Maybe Pau Gasol's let the bright lights of Los Angeles change him from his small town ways. You know, Barcelona, Spain being such a quaint little village. Regardless, apparently it's an epidemic of championship-caliber teams needing some therapy and special quality time. 

From the Boston Herald:
The effect can be so disruptive, Doc Rivers even has a name for those times when squabbling and finger pointing mar one of his timeouts. 
“Emotional highjacks,” the Celtics [team stats] coach said after yesterday’s practice. “And they always happen when you’re down or in the Heat of battle. It always happens, but once you let it get to a point where it highjacks your team, then it’s never good. But it’s part of the game, in every sport and on every team.” 
The Celtics, though, looked as if they had been boarded and highjacked by Captain Jack Sparrow’s entire crew during several timeouts on Tuesday night.In perhaps the most blatant instance, Rajon Rondo [stats] stormed away from Paul Pierce [stats] as the Celtics captain attempted to make a point at the end of a timeout. Not long after, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen appeared to be holding their own conference outside the greater team huddle.
via For Celtics, outbursts no shock - BostonHerald.com.

Ray Allen told the Herald that it's nothing new for the team, that they've always argued and "debated" more than any other team he'd been on. But it certainly comes off differently when the team is down 0-2 and looks largely helpless to counter the talent in the red and white unis. 

Emotion is a good thing. But bickering and squabbling isn't going to help a team that has a heavily rumored fracture in its chemistry since "the trade" to get itself back together. The Celtics have always fed off their emotion, but right now it needs to be aimed at increasing their intensity and intimidating the Heat, not punishing one another over pointless arguments. There's a thin line between fiery and disruptive, and the Celtics are dancing all over it right now. 
(HT: Red's Army)  

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