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Saturday, April 9, 2011
Postgame: Celtics-Wizards leftovers

By Chris Forsberg



BOSTON -- A handful of leftovers after the Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 104-88 Friday night at the TD Garden:

* The Celtics connected on 31 of 35 free throws (88.6 percent) during Friday's triumph, getting into the bonus early and often. No one took better advantage than captain Paul Pierce, who got to the charity stripe 13 times (making 12 of those attempts).

"I thought early on we attacked and got in the penalty in both halves quickly," said coach Doc Rivers. "And, honestly, I thought we recognized that a little bit better tonight, and then took advantage of it, instead of staying on the perimeter. We made a big, hard emphasis on attacking the basket. And if we can get in the penalty, we’ve got good foul shooters, let’s get to the foul line. I thought we did a good job of that.”

Added Pierce: “I try to make a concentrated effort every night in getting to the rim. That’s part of my game, I slash to the basket, finish it, try to get some easy ones. That’s why I am able to shoot a high percentage. I was able to get there [Friday], a little more aggression, get into the bonus. Even though my shot didn’t fall [Pierce finished 5-of-14 shooting with 22 points] I was able to get to the line. That’s the way scorers have to do it. When the shot’s aren’t falling get to the line.”

* Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he's still uncertain if center Shaquille O'Neal (strained right calf) will travel to Miami with the team on Saturday in advance of Sunday's showdown on South Beach, but he's leaning towards not having the 39-year-old in tow.

"We'll know [Saturday]," said Rivers. "We'll talk in the morning. If we don't think there's any chance, he won't go on the trip. If he goes on the trip, then [there's a chance]."

Given the heightened interest in when O'Neal might return, Rivers quipped: "If you want to camp out, we leave at 12," before adding on Shaq's status, "I'm not sure. I'm going to lean towards not [playing]. But I'm not sure yet."

* As for Jermaine O'Neal, who got a maintenance day Friday after playing in five games in eight days since returning from left knee surgery, Rivers said the veteran center is lobbying hard to play in all three of Boston's final regular-season games.

"I don’t know if it will be all three, but definitely next two," said Rivers. "He really wants to play. One of things he told me was, 'Coach, I really need to play in a back-to-back. I just need to be ready."

There's no back-to-backs in the playoffs, so Rivers joked that he doesn't quite see the logic, but he's going to appease him if it will get his starting center (at least if Shaq can't get healthy in time) ready for the playoffs.

* Kevin Garnett said the Celtics don't want to just forget about Thursday's loss in Chicago.

"No, you want to keep [remembering]," said Garnett. "It's motivating. We played like trash, they played great. And you want that to motivate you. Now we've got a really good Heat team coming up [Sunday] and we'll be tested again."

Much of the postgame chatter centered on the Celtics being ready for that battle, particularly with the No. 2 seed likely hanging in the balance (and even more because of the lack of energy in Thursday's battle in Chicago).

“I expect everybody to be ready," said Ray Allen. "I don’t question what guys’ preparedness is like, but a game like that, I don’t look over my shoulder wondering if guys are going to be ready to play.”