Postgame notes: Pierce rebounds in Gm 6
The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
* After disappearing in Game 5, Pierce rebounds in big way
* Infirmary report: Wallace and Rondo tweak backs in win
* Loose balls: Shots won't fall for Magic; A first-quarter league
After disappearing in Game 5, Pierce rebounds in big way
After a fast start in Game 5, Celtics captain Paul Pierce didn't register a single field goal over the final 39 1/2 minutes of that frustrating loss in Orlando. That streak would creep up over the 45-minute mark as Pierce missed his first two shots in Friday's Game 6, but after he buried a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter, it seemed like he couldn't go 45 seconds without a make.
Pierce poured in a game-high 31 points on 9-of-15 shooting with 13 rebounds and 5 assists over 44:53. He erupted for 11 points in the third quarter, getting to the line for six freebies -- all of which he made -- while helping the Celtics build a 21-point cushion and coast to the finish line of the series.
But it was Pierce's work on the glass that really stood out to the coaching staff.
"The rebounding -- I said it earlier, if you want to see how Paul Pierce is playing, go to the rebound numbers," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "If those numbers are high, that means he's playing well."
Pierce hauled in nine rebounds after intermission and registered more caroms than Kendrick Perkins (7) and Kevin Garnett (5) combined.
"Doc and [Celtics associate head coach Tom Thibodeau], the whole coaching staff, made [rebounding] a point of emphasis," said Pierce. "This is a pretty good rebounding team. The thing was it was going to have to come from our guards. Ray [Allen] and [Rajon] Rondo really rebounded the ball well this series. The big guys have so much work with Dwight Howard, trying to box him out. It's hard to block him out and to get the rebound.
"So the key was to keep a body on him and get the guards in there rebounding. There was an emphasis on that this series. We felt like if we control the glass, we have a great chance at winning. Most times we do if we win on the rebounds."
After dispatching the Magic, Pierce plans to soak in the victory and the impending return trip to the NBA Finals.
"Man, it's a great feeling," said Pierce. "You never take these moments for granted. This is an opportunity that I have for my second trip to the Finals, knowing that a lot of guys never made it. So we're real excited about this. I'm going to soak it all up, going to enjoy it. There's nothing like it. Being the only team -- one of the last teams standing. All 28 NBA teams got to watch us now.
"So we never take these moments for granted. Especially at this point in my career, where it's winding down. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. To get back here is a great accomplishment, but even greater if we win another one."
Infirmary report: Wallace and Rondo tweak backs in win
Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace and guard Rajon Rondo both tweaked their backs during Friday's Game 6 and both are expected to utilize the extended layoff before the Finals to nurse themselves back to health.
Wallace, who complained of back spasms after fouling out in the fourth quarter of Game 5, seemed to be battling that same problem throughout Game 6. The pain of back spasms finally forced him off the court with 8:40 remaining in the final quarter, but Wallace returned for the postgame celebration. Brought in to help the Celtics obtain Banner 18, it seemed appropriate that he was the one who walked off the floor clutching the conference championship trophy.
"[Rondo is] going to be OK, I'm more concerned with Rasheed, honestly," said Rivers. "Rasheed got tight, you could see it. I will say this about Rasheed and [Glen Davis], neither one of them was in great shape tonight. You could see that. Rasheed could not move. He looked old tonight because of his back. And I told him when he came back. You could see him in pain, and I said, 'Thank you for giving me the minutes you gave me.' So that's our concern, but we have time, so I think by Thursday we'll be good."
Pierce admitted the time off, including a two-day weekend reprieve from practice, will do everyone good.
"I know I need [the break]," said Pierce. "I've got a couple injuries that I kind of want to cure up over the next couple of days. Just minor stuff like foot, back, stuff like that. But nothing major for me, you know. Running into Dwight Howard really doesn't help your body none going through a series like this. When you're constantly going over screens that he's setting, it wears on you."
Loose balls: Shots won't fall for Magic; A first-quarter league
* Shots won't fall for Magic: Magic coach Stan Van Gundy lamented the fact that shots weren't falling early for his team, and the Magic let the game get away from them at that point.
"I thought early on we were OK and we just didn't make shots, and then we let it get to us, and we did, we broke down," said Van Gundy. "Then I thought two things happened also: Nate Robinson was huge in the first half. I mean, that was a huge, huge lift for them to have  points in the first half.
"Then I also thought the other real key part of the game -- and it doesn't seem like it because you're down 13 at the half -- but, when Ray hit the two [3-pointers] bang, bang to start the second half. ... We had played well at the end of the first half. I know we were way down still, but we had come from 20-plus down, back to 13, you know. We came out of the locker room ready to go after it. Then he knocks down two huge threes and it goes to 19 and gives them a big cushion to work with."
* Game is won at the starting line: Van Gundy spent much of his pregame chat talking about how the majority of NBA games are won in the first quarter, not the fourth. Boston jumped out to a 30-19 lead in that first frame Friday and won despite being outscored 23-14 in the final period.
"I think [the first quarters were the] key the whole series," said Van Gundy. "I sort of said it laughingly, but there is this thing that people try to perpetuate that the NBA's a fourth-quarter league. You don't even need to watch the first three quarters, just turn on the fourth quarter. That's from people who don't study at all and don't follow NBA basketball. Go back through the year. I haven't done this year's yet, but you're usually at 2/3 to 3/4 of the games are won by the team who wins the first quarter. I mean, it's a first-quarter league.
"You've got to be ready at the start. It's not like you can't come back. Certainly if it's 25-24, comebacks happen, but you're up double figures at the end of the first quarter, and that one I don't have an answer to. I'll find out. The odds are astronomical. They really are. It's a first-quarter league. We got off to a bad start and this series was certainly a first-quarter series."
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