Celtics

Celtics-Heat Game 2 review: No '5050' calls for C's

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Celtics-Heat Game 2 review: No '5050' calls for C's

MIAMI Paul Pierce came out with a more aggressive demeanor. Ditto for Rajon Rondo.

That still wasn't enough, as the Celtics find themselves in a 2-0 series hole after a 115-111 overtime loss.

The series now shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

For the Celtics, it was a disappointing, tough to swallow loss considering for much of the game, the C's did exactly what they wanted to do in order to position themselves for the victory.

But down the stretch, the Celtics found themselves on the short end of 5050 calls.

Although the whole idea of there being 5050 calls was one that C's coach Doc Rivers wasn't totally ready to buy into completely.

"Can you call it something else besides 5050 calls?" he said. "Can you come up with another percentage for me?"

Concerned with picking up a fine for criticizing officials, Rivers declined to elaborate other than to point out that, "LeBron James took 24 free throws and our team took 29. Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket. It's just tough."

Pierce, who was 5-for-6 from the line, fouled out on a driving attempt by Dwyane Wade in the middle of the lane in which Pierce appeared to have jumped straight up when the contact was made - a play that more often than not results in a non-call.

"I thought it was a good play with me going straight up," Pierce said. "It could go either way. It didn't go my way tonight, so I had to watch the rest of the game."

Pierce looking to attack the lane as well as Rajon Rondo's career-high 44-point game (it included him converting 10 of his team-high 12 free throw attempts) gave the C's a chance at the win. Here's a look back at some keys highlighted prior to Boston's Game 2 loss.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With Boston struggling so much from the perimeter, expect more of the offense to be run through Kevin Garnett at the elbow or on the post. With Garnett likely to be more of a hybrid facilitatorscorer offensively, the Celtics are hoping that will force the Heat defense to loosen up its coverage on him and in turn, will allow him more opportunities to score or it will set up his teammates for easier baskets.

WHAT WE SAW: Although Garnett had 18 points, there was never a point in the game where he asserted his will as a legitimate low-post presence. C's coach Doc Rivers blames himself for that happening. "I've got to do a better job of getting Kevin the ball in the right spots," Rivers said. "I didn't think the entire night we did a good job at that."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade: It's pretty simple here. Ray Allen will get good looks, because the Heat - and everyone with a TV who has witnessed the Celtics of late - knows that Allen isn't just missing shots. He's missing wide open, lightly contested shots - something Allen has seen very little of throughout his career. He's not going to win the head-to-head battle with Wade. The C's know better. But he has to at least make it so that the Heat don't get so comfortable in giving him more space to shoot.

WHAT WE SAW: Wade had a big third quarter which helped position the Heat for the win, but Miami has to be concerned going into Game Three with Allen looking very much like he's starting to get his shooting rhythm back. He had 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting which included a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that forced overtime. "Ray, he's a warrior," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "And we're going to keep believing in him."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has to figure out how he can dominate the game, and figure it out quickly. Throughout the playoffs, Rondo has stretches in which he is the best player on the floor. Not once did he control the action in Game One with that kind of authority. Another repeat of that tonight, and the outcome for Celtics will likely be no different than it was in Game One.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo did more than just dominate his matchup. He delivered one of the greatest playoff games ever by a Boston Celtic player. He finished with a career-high 44 points on 16-for-24 shooting along with 10 assists and eight rebounds. Although Rondo is well aware that he had the kind of playoff performance that won't soon be forgotten, there was no sense of accomplishment on his part for one simple reason. The Celtics lost. "It's irrelevant," he said. "We lost. It's as simple as that."

STAT TO TRACK: Regardless of how you feel about the Miami Heat and whether they get preferential treatment by the officials, one thing is very clear. Their opponents have racked up an unusually high amount of technical fouls throughout the playoffs. There have been a total of 90 technical fouls called during the 2012 playoffs, 17 of them (18.9 percent) of them have been against Heat opponents. Lack of composure? Conspiracy? Regardless of which position you take, it doesn't change the fact the Celtics have to avoid getting into it with officials if they are to even this series up tonight.
WHAT WE SAW: Keeping with the trend in which Heat opponents pick up technical fouls, you can add one more to the list. And it would later prove to be a big one. Kevin Garnett was fouled by James Jones in the fourth quarter. After the whistle blew, Garnett swung an elbow in Jones' direction as the two were tangled up. The officials called the foul on Jones, but whistled Garnett for a technical foul. For those keeping track, Heat opponents have been whistled for 18 of the 91 technical fouls that have been called in the playoffs, or 19.8 percent.

Gordon Hayward already back on the court and draining threes

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Gordon Hayward already back on the court and draining threes

Gordon Hayward had just about the most horrific debut any player could imagine.

We won't get into the details again, but it left many wondering the Celtics would even recover emotionally to compete in the East.

Now it's clear they are more than prepared to make some noise in the playoffs.

The most important recovery is Hayward's and tonight fans scrolled through social media to see encouraging progress.

Still can’t beat me... 🤷🏻‍♀️

A post shared by Robyn Hayward (@robynmhayward) on

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Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

BOSTON – While it’s too soon to hit the panic button on the Boston Celtics’ season, Sunday’s 103-95 loss to Orlando is disturbing on multiple fronts. 

For starters, the Magic (14-32) have been in the NBA basement most of the season, so for them to see the light towards victory, on the road nonetheless, against the Celtics is bothersome for the Green Team. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Magic

Boston came into Sunday’s game with an impressive 17-3 record against teams with a sub-.500 record.

Making matters even worst, it was Boston’s third straight loss – a first for the Celtics this season - with all three defeats coming at the TD Garden. 

Celtics big man Al Horford said the team needs a “Fight for our lives’” mentality heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

While no one wants to lose game, having to overcome some hurdles along the journey isn’t always a bad thing.

“Gotta have some adversity,” said Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 40 points - the second time he has reached the 40-point plateau this season (47 points, Nov. 20 at Dallas). “We need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road. You have to be able to weather the storm no matter what.”

Aside from Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season-opener, dropping three straight is probably the biggest adversity the Celtics have had this season. 

And this latest setback came against an Orlando franchise that the Celtics have absolutely owned at home. 

Prior to Sunday’s loss, Boston had not lost to the Magic at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with 14 straight wins.

"We didn't underestimate them," said Boston's Jaylen Brown who had 17 points. "They've been playing a lot better than they've been playing all year."

Al Horford echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t underestimate any team,” Horford said. “I don’t think we necessarily did, but we need to have that sense of urgency like we started the game and be able to hold that throughout the game. That’s important.”

So is making the most of transition scoring opportunities which was an area of play in which the Celtics struggled mightily all game. 

Boston wound up with six, fast-break points on just 3-for-9 shooting. 

“We had some transition opportunities that we didn’t covert,” acknowledged Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. 

Failing to capitalize on those easy scoring opportunities came back to hurt Boston and in hindsight, proved to be one of the key differences in the game’s outcome. 

“Whether you’re doing things at an optimum level as you would like, that’s part of the game of learning one another,” Irving said. “Being able to figure out how to respond from that. Us as a group, we’ve come together in the last four months, five months, it’s new. We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It’s part of the game; part of being on a team, part of being a professional. Any team, any environment, you have to have stuff like this where you have to figure it out.”

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