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Monday, April 30, 2012
Postgame: Rondo is the head of Voltron

By Chris Forsberg

Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesCeltics center Kevin Garnett.
A handful of postgame notes after the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Boston Celtics 83-74 Sunday evening in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Philips Arena:

Rondo is the head of Voltron


Leave it to Kevin Garnett to sum up what the loss of Rajon Rondo would mean if the point guard is suspended for Game 2 against the Hawks.

"Doc’s system, man, Doc’s system is predicated towards hard work and playing hard," said Garnett. "You want certain personnel in certain positions, but this team is built to where you move pieces and you put pieces into the structure to where it runs continually like a wheel. Rondo, obviously, he’s the head that forms Voltron; He’s the black lion. Obviously, you have other pieces you can put in there, manipulate and keep things going, so we’re going to continue to be who we are and right now that's just being better for Game 2."

Rondo single-handedly kept Boston in Game 1 with his offensive exploits, both handing out 11 assists, but attacking the basket while matching Garnett with a team-high 20 points (on 10 of 18 shooting).

“I just tried to read the pick-and-roll," said Rondo. "I still tried to distribute the ball. Guys made shots, guys missed shots, but at the same time, I wanted to try to attack. The lane was opening up and I tried to take advantage of it.”

Pierce takes blames for early offensive woes


The Celtics couldn't get anything going offensively early in Game 1 and captain Paul Pierce suggested that much of the accountability falls on him. Pierce misfired on 14 shots during Sunday's game, finishing with 12 points on 5 of 19 shooting. Pierce missed all six 3-pointers he hoisted (and Boston missed all 11 it took overall).

"I thought I had really good looks tonight, and for us to win, I have to be a better player," said Pierce. "That’s just what it is. I have to knock down the shots, I have to be aggressive on the offensive end, I have to do my job defensively on Joe Johnson. I think I was a really big culprit of that tonight."

Did Pierce's big toe injury hinder his performance?

"I don’t really think that affected me," he said. "All the shots I got tonight, I’ll take all of them. There was a ton of wide-open shots there for me, a lot of good looks at the elbow. It wasn’t like I was forcing anything. I even missed a layup wide-open at the end of the game, so that was just an indication of the type of night I had."

Ring the bell: C's lean on boxing analogies


No team in the league likes boxing -- and boxing analogies -- more than the Celtics. Both Pierce and Garnett jumped in the ring to explain the Game 1 loss, particularly Boston's sluggish start.

The best way I can explain this is like a boxing match," said Garnett. "Sometimes you watch a boxing match, see some guys like, 'Why isn’t this guy punching?' Playing here, it’s a great atmosphere -- it turned into a great atmosphere, during the regular season it’s so-so, but playoff time, Atlanta really lights up. For whatever reason, we started out slow, missed a lot of shots that we normally hit. They came out firing, man. I felt like Smoove [Josh Smith], he played real, real good basketball today. [Kirk] Hinrich played huge, [Joe Johnson] -- always classic Joe. So we gotta start off better and have a lot of confidence in us."

Echoed Pierce: "We kinda eased into the game. It’s hard to tell because we [typically] establish ourselves early defensively, and we definitely didn’t do that. They got every loose ball, they got every 3-point shot, they got everything they wanted in the first, and then it was like in most boxing match. You sit there, you got your guard up, then you take your guard get down, then you punch, and you’re like, ‘OK, we’re in a fight.’ We gotta realize we’re in a fight from the jump. That’s all there is to it."