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.

Anything is Podable podcast Episode 7: Bumpy playoff road through the East

Anything is Podable podcast Episode 7: Bumpy playoff road through the East

Episode 7 of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” podcast looks back at the playoff road the revitalized Celtics took to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1987. 

Boston breezed through the regular season winning 66 games, the third-most in team history. When the playoffs started, the road was not as easy. The Celtics found a surprisingly difficult test in the first round against a young Atlanta Hawks team.

"The crowd was like something I had never seen in Atlanta before," Paul Pierce said of the fans at Games 3 and 4 and 6 at Phillips Arena, where the Hawks beat the C's to force a Game 7 at TD Garden. 

Back at the Garden, order was restored, as it usually is for the Green at home in seventh games. "Game 7 was an absolute annihilation," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. 

In the second round, the Cleveland Cavaliers and their young superstar, LeBron James, awaited. That also went seven. Pierce (41 points) and James (45) went toe-to-toe in one of the best Game 7 duels in NBA history. 

"That was one of the great games in the history of NBA basketball," said Ainge of the Celtics' 97-92 victory. 

When you've got a great player like LeBron anything can happen in a Game 7. He can be special and he was. Unfortunately for him, I was able to be special, too." 

The conference finals featured the changing of the guard in the East from the veteran Detroit Pistons. The Celtics overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to capture Game 6 on the road and head back to the Finals. 

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe here or through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.

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Morris says Ainge, Stevens encouraged him to seek help for anxiety and depression

Morris says Ainge, Stevens encouraged him to seek help for anxiety and depression

Marcus Morris opened up about his mental health issues and says the Celtics were instrumental in encouraging him to seek help.

In the first part of Jackie MacMullan's series on the mental health stigma in the NBA, Paul Piece detailed his battle with depression after being stabbed at a nightclub in 2000. On Tuesday, the second part of MacMullan's series was published and included some eye-opening anecdotes from Morris, who dealt with anxiety and depression issues of his own.

Morris discussed he and his brother Markieff Morris' (currently on Wizards) rough childhoods growing up in North Philadelphia, and how their childhoods led to mental health issues later on in life.

“Honestly, I didn't feel like I could trust anybody -- not even the people in my neighborhood, who I knew my whole life,” Morris told ESPN. “We just walked out stressed all the time. I said to my brother once, 'You know, this is no way to live.'"

After being traded from the Suns to the Pistons in 2015, Morris began questioning whether professional basketball was really meant for him.

"I start asking myself, 'Is this for me?'" Morris told ESPN. "Growing up, I loved the game so much -- it was the only thing that made me happy. But now it's stressing me out. It's all negative. It's all business, and I'm having trouble with that. So you start flipping back and forth. The money is great, but is it good for me as a human? Shouldn't that matter more than anything?"

When Morris was traded again, this time to Boston, things changed for the better. GM Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens helped Morris get help, referring him to psychologist Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker.

"She has helped me so much," Morris told ESPN. "It may sound silly, but just closing my eyes in a dark room and breathing for 10 minutes a day helps me. I know lots of guys who are dealing with some kind of anxiety and depression -- not knowing if they have a job next season, not knowing if they're going to get traded. It's so stressful. Everyone is pulling at you. They want your time, your money, a piece of your fame...If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you.”

You can read MacMullan's entire piece here.

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