<
>

Practice notes: Nothing Bruin(s)

5/23/2010

WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics practiced Sunday afternoon at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint in advance of Monday's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Orlando Magic:

The rundown (a quick look at practice headlines)

* Boston's sports history won't let C's rest with 3-0 lead

* The day after: Rondo still thinks he was fouled on hustle play

* Loose balls: The Big 15; KG: Closeouts the toughest

Boston's sports history won't let C's rest with 3-0 lead

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't have to remind his team about the tenuousness of a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. Maybe if he was coaching in another sports city, but certainly not in Boston.

No, Rasheed Wallace has had a Philadelphia Flyers hat glued to his head for the past week-plus, subliminally reminding his teammates of 1) His favorite hockey team; and 2) The perils of looking past an opponent despite what seems like insurmountable odds: Philadelphia rallied from a 3-0 hole to top the Boston Bruins earlier this month in the NHL Eastern Conference semifinals.

Sure, the Celtics are in a comfortable position in the Eastern Conference finals against the Orlando Magic. In the 93 instances of an NBA team leading a best-of-seven series 3-0, no team has ever blown that advantage. What's more, 57 of those teams swept and 27 more won in five games (including Boston's opening-round triumph over the Miami Heat). Only nine series have advanced to six games or more, including a mere three Game 7s.

Yet, the Celtics need only see those yellow chairbacks at the TD Garden on Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, on ESPN) to be reminded that the building's primary tenant became only the third NHL team in history -- and only the fourth team in North American professional sports -- to blow such a lead.

So, coach Rivers, should the Bruins’ collapse be a cautionary tale for your team?

"It should be," said Rivers. "I know [the Boston media] will make it. I don't even have to worry about that. The greatest part and the toughest part about playing sports or coaching sports in Boston is the history. Everyone is going to remind you of the good history and they'll all remind you of the bad history. In some ways, it can be a benefit for us."

Rivers said he's simply preaching focus to his team, which kept its eyes on the prize in Saturday's lopsided Game 3 triumph. So while some players acknowledged that Bruins were on their mind, others said they were simply locked in on Game 4.

"This is not hockey, we're not even looking at that," said Kevin Garnett. When reminded of the Bruins' fate, he again brushed it off. "The Bruins are not the Celtics, the Celtics are not the Bruins. It's apples and oranges."

That's true, but good luck avoiding the 3-0 chatter. After all, the Boston Red Sox rewrote the MLB history books when they became the first team to rally from such a deficit in the ALCS en route to the 2004 World Series crown. Celtics captain Paul Pierce, a fan of sporting a Sox cap on the road, acknowledged he's aware of the Bruins' fate.

"You always look at the circumstances of a team that have been in that situation and lost," said Pierce, who might also want to brush up on the 1942 Detroit Red Wings and the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins. "We're definitely looking at it and not taking [the Magic] lightly. We know Orlando won eight straight playoff games and they won [59] games in the regular season, so they're capable [of rallying]. We're not going to take anything for granted."

The day after: Rondo still thinks he was fouled on hustle play

The day after producing a moment that instantly entered the pantheon of greatest Celtics playoff moments, Rajon Rondo was still campaigning for a foul call on Jason Williams.

If by chance you live in a cave (and a cave with Internet, evidently), Rondo dove between the legs of Williams while chasing a loose ball, then somehow scrambled to his feet and converted a little second-quarter layup that sent the crowd into a tizzy.

"I still think I got fouled," lamented Rondo, who sure seemed to receive a gratuitous push from Williams as he went up for the shot.

Pierce believes the play will be regarded as one of the greatest playoff moments in NBA history.

"It was a great play just to be a part of," said Pierce, who was part of a bench that spilled out of its chairs when the play occurred. "Me and my friends were talking about that play and that's going to be a play that, for the next 20 years, we'll see on replay and hustle plays throughout NBA commercials over the next 25-30 years. That's how great that play was."

Despite his celebrity over the defining moment of this postseason, Rondo couldn't get much respect at practice. While holding court with the media, an errant ball bounced up and struck him in the face. Rondo jokingly marched towards the offending teammate, but smoothly transitioned back to the interview and answered the question he had been tackling.

Loose balls: The Big 15; Closeouts the toughest; Rotations

* The Celtics were scheduled to simply watch video after meeting with the media before their afternoon session. Asked what the best part of his team's play was Saturday, Rivers said there was still more tape to analyze, but noted, "I think our rotations, defensively, we gotta stay focused on that." Boston continues to excel at swarming perimeter shooters when they receive the ball, contesting shots and forcing turnovers.

* Asked if Rondo's play has forced the Celtics to consider the "Big Four," Rivers suggested a different title. "The Big 15, as far as I'm concerned. I never enjoyed the Big Three -- we're not going to win with three guys. We're not going to win with four."

* Garnett knows that the next victory won't come easy: "Closeout games are always the hardest, always the most difficult. We're going to get the team's best... and we gotta be ready for that."