Boston Celtics: 2011Round2Game3

Keeping Wade away from the rim

May, 9, 2011
How did the Boston Celtics slow Dwyane Wade in Game 3? It looks like a simple recipe of challenging him to take low-percentage outside jumpers, coupled with good help defense to prevent him getting close to the basket, was enough to limit him to 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting (only 14 of those points coming over the first three quarters).

Despite regular-season shooting struggles against Boston, Wade erupted for 38 points on 14-of-21 shooting in Game 1. He was a pest in Game 2 as well, but more so because he got to the free throw line for 13 attempts (Boston as a team shot a mere 22 freebies that night).

In Game 3, the Celtics not only did a good job defending him in halfcourt sets, but only sent him to the line seven times, forcing him to make shots for his points. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the defensive effort started with Ray Allen, who after giving up 28 points to Wade on 10-of-20 shooting to start the series, held him to 1-of-5 shooting with six points in Game 3.

"I just thought in Miami we got different action, we didn’t settle as much," Wade said of Miami's offense in Game 3. "Obviously, we’ve got to look at the film and see what we can do better. I think they made us settle a little bit too much. I think they made us not give up the ball as much and hold it a little too much. In Miami we weren't doing that. We were moving it, getting to the second and third options, which is the only way we can beat this team.”

Let's look a little closer:

Help on Wade #1

Wade did nearly all of his damage at the rim, converting six of seven attempts near the basket. From beyond 3 feet, he was 2 of 12, misfiring on four of five trifectas. Wade's lone miss near the rim came in the first quarter (screenshot above) when Jermaine O'Neal stepped up to thwart him in transition.

(Read full post)

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett checked in with another entry on his ANTA shoe blog following Saturday's Game 3 win over the Miami Heat. Here's the entry:
Fight night tonight! Big game tonight and props to my boy #9 [Rajon Rondo] fighting back from injury. Team was in sync and ball moved well. We got big stops when we needed it. P2 [Paul Pierce] fought through cramps tonight, so props to him as well. Thanks to ZICO for getting me through the 4th quarter! No cramps and felt good.

Having the big Shamrock with us was big and everyone played a role! If you watched the game, you got a flash of what we got left. Felt good and had on the new Anta's!!!!

Keep believing in us and Reach higher.

Pierce shines start to finish

May, 8, 2011
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/GettyPaul Pierce helped fuel Boston's Game 3 victory over the Heat.
BOSTON -- On Friday, Paul Pierce deemed himself an invaluable fourth-quarter asset to the Boston Celtics, saying, "Paul Pierce being in the game in the fourth quarter is always going to help the Celtics." But on Saturday, it was his effort in the first quarter of the Celtics' 97-81 Game 3 victory that helped set the tone for a Boston team that was in desperate need of a fast start with its back against the wall against the Miami Heat.

Pierce scored 12 of his series-high 27 points in the opening frame, establishing an aggressiveness that the rest of his teammates fed off as the C's built a 27-21 lead over the opening 12 minutes, marking the first time in the series that they led at the end of the first quarter.

The Heat hit the Celtics in the first quarters of the series' first two games on South Beach, and Boston, put back on its heels by Miami's consecutive blitzes, was forced to play catch-up in both contests, largely without the full services of its captain. Pierce was ejected in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and was limited by a strained left Achilles for much of Game 2. But coming into Saturday's game, the Celtics knew they needed to be the aggressors, and before Miami could even take a full-hearted swing, Pierce struck first. Then he struck again and again.

"I thought Paul Pierce set the tone at the beginning of the game," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers afterward. "Just the force he was playing with. And it was what we talked about, [all we talked about] is Miami has played with force. And that's what they should do. But we haven't. And today there was a stretch where both teams were playing with force and I was fine with that. But I thought Paul set the tone for our entire team to start the game with the force that he played with. I thought that was a great message for the entire team."

(Read full post)

BOSTON -- A look at morning headlines after the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 97-81 Saturday night in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series at the TD Garden:

And a look at how it's playing in Miami:

Notebook: KG in a non-zone zone

May, 8, 2011
BOSTON -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 97-81 Saturday night in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series at the TD Garden:

The rundown: KG's Best Playoff Effort in Boston? | Shaq's Return | Layup Line

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett contends he wasn't in a zone Saturday night. The Heat might argue otherwise.

Garnett put together arguably his finest playoff performance in a Boston uniform, connecting on 13-of-20 field goals for 28 points with 18 rebounds over 37 minutes, 47 seconds of action. Garnett produced half of those points in a pivotal third quarter in which Boston rallied from a two-point halftime deficit and built a double-digit cushion it maintained to the finish line.

During the Big Three era, only twice has Garnett topped his 28-point outing (33 points vs. Detroit in 2008; 32 points vs. Atlanta in 2008) and only once has he registered as many field goals (13 vs. Cleveland in 2008). The rebounds are a Big Three-era high for Garnett and his most in a playoff game since hauling in 19 against the Lakers in May of 2004).

But again, he wasn't in a zone.

"I was aggressive," said Garnett. "I won’t call it a zone. I’ve been in a zone and that wasn’t it. Man, I’ve been in a zone and that wasn’t it. I had a nice rhythm going. Guys looked for me. I had [Rajon Rondo] and Paul [Pierce] encouraging me. I’ve got to continue to be aggressive. It gives us a force and another source of scoring. At the same time, I can’t lose my focus on trying to slow [Chris] Bosh down and making sure that that is even ground. I’ve got to make sure that my focus is defense first and then being a post presence, or whatever I need to be, for this series."

Bosh finished 1-of-6 shooting for six points with five rebounds over 30:15. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Bosh woke up with a pinched nerve in his neck, but it might have actually come from watching many of Garnett's 20 attempts sail over him and through the twine.

Garnett was so locked in, coach Doc Rivers blatantly called plays for him even when Garnett didn't want the ball.

"It was funny, you could tell he needed a break with the two minutes left [in the third quarter]," said Rivers. "And I know his run. His head’s bobbing; you could just see it. And I called a punch -- a post play for him -- and he called it off and tried to call a movement play. So I called it back. And I went right back [to the post play] and said, ‘No, we’re going to the post -- to you.’ And Kevin’s nuts because, when he scored, he’s running down the court [screaming], ‘Get the ball to me!’ And I’m laughing. I said, ‘Yeah, that’s what we’re trying to do.’"

Asked to sum up Garnett's performance, Spoelstra said: "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That’s what it reminds me of. He’s too proud of a player, talk about an MVP, one of the best players in this league, as soon as he stepped on the court as a rookie 14 years ago. For the revisionists out there, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, when everyone threw dirt on him in the Finals against Boston, he came out the next night and had 37 [points] and 15 [rebounds]. And while all this fuel was going on the last three days, I was cringing because you know this is a proud [Celtics team], and you knew they would have a response, which is fine. If we’re going to go where we want to go to, we have to outplay them when they are at their best."

And when KG is in a zone -- or, if you believe him, even when he's not -- Boston is at their best.


Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal returned to action for the first time in over a month and provided two points and two fouls over 8:29. Better yet for Boston, he didn't aggravate the right calf/Achilles injury that has limited him to 5 minutes since Feb. 1, and Rivers expressed optimism that he'd be fine moving forward.

"Shaq came out of it good," said Rivers, who previously raved about Shaq's defensive effort over a near-four-minute stretch in the second half. "I thought Shaq had a big impact in the second half, just his presence."

Allow Jeff Green to elaborate: “[When] you have a big body down there, guys don’t go down there, and I think that alone speaks for itself. When you have Shaq down there protecting the hole, guys are going to be afraid to go down there. As long as he’s there, we’re allowed to put more pressure on the guys around the perimeter.”

Added Delonte West: "Well, [Shaq] just brought himself. The things that he does, doesn’t always show up in the box scores. The little side conversations he has with Jeff, or how he keeps [Glen Davis] motivated. The starters, for them to come off the floor and have a guy waiting for them that they respect and trust his knowledge, he does so much for us that doesn’t show up in the box score.”


* Spoelstra on Boston's inspired play: "That was a championship-caliber response. No other real way to put it. They came out and played extremely hard. They played harder than us and played more efficiently than us. And they’ve earned that pedigree with the battles and the wars that they’ve been in the last four years, where we are trying to get to. We’re trying to take down a champion and it will be one of the toughest things we have to do collectively."

* Miami guard Dwyane Wade defended his part in Rondo suffering a dislocated elbow as the two chased a third-quarter loose ball: "It’s a physical game, the game of basketball is a physical game. I’m not a dirty player, it’s physical. Everyone falls to the ground, everyone gets hurt, people get up.”

* Rivers has no desire to watch the game tape of Rondo's elbow injury: "I still haven’t seen it," he said. "I’ve heard that I don’t want to see it. I’ve never seen the [Joe] Theismann injury, and I don’t plan on seeing this one. But I’ve heard it was not the prettiest thing, and probably it helped me, honestly, that I didn’t see it, because if I had, from what I hear, it would’ve been tough to put him back in the game.”

* Rivers on injury concerns moving forward: "[Pierce] it was just cramps [with his left foot after spilling into the baseline cameramen in the second half]. Delonte {West] is a major concern, [because the] shoulder could be worse than what we thought. We’ll see.” West took a more optimistic approach on his bruised left shoulder: "It's alright. Still lingering, but nothing that should hold me out."

* Spoelstra on potential starting lineup adjustments: "I will evaluate everything, A to Z." ... Bosh on how he pinched a nerve in his neck: "I woke up.”
AP Photo/Charles KrupaKevin Garnett carried the Cetlics to a Game 3 victory.
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 97-81 Saturday night in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series at the TD Garden. The Heat lead the series, 2-1:

Kevin Garnett produced one of his most inspired postseason efforts in a Boston uniform, registering 28 points on 13-of-20 shooting, while grabbing 18 rebounds over 38 minutes, while Paul Pierce chipped in 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting over 40 minutes. But it was the return of Rajon Rondo, who had dislocated his elbow midway through the third quarter that was the story of the night. Boston's medical staff popped the injury back into place and Rondo returned at the start of the fourth frame to chip in six points and 11 assists on the night. Dwyane Wade registered 23 points for Miami, while Mario Chalmers (17 points) had more points off the bench than LeBron James (15).

Garnett scored 14 points in the third quarter, connecting on seven of the eight shots he put up while scoring half of Boston's points in the frame. His two buckets coming out of the intermission ignited a 16-4 run that turned the Celtics' two-point halftime deficit into a 60-50 lead with 7:01 to play in the frame. Even with Rondo sidelined in the third frame, Boston rode Garnett to the finish of the third frame and still had an 11-point lead heading to the final frame.

Garnett putting up 20 shots was key, but it was his defense that made Chris Bosh a nonfactor that shone through. Bosh finished 1-of-6 with only six points and played only 29 minutes. The Heat as a whole shot only 42.5 percent (31 of 73 overall).

Delonte West, who bruised his own shoulder in the second quarter, chipped in 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, and adding three assists over 25 minutes. His play, particularly with Rondo sidelined for a stretch, was crucial for the Celtics.

Depending on if Rondo is able to continue playing through the elbow injury, the Celtics might have gained more than a win in this one. With an inspired second-half effort, the Celtics took all the momentum Miami had in this series and have guaranteed this series will go back to South Beach. Boston needs to carry over the positives into Game 4 on Monday night, but a 2-1 deficit looks far less daunting than the 2-0 hole they faced entering Saturday's action.

Rondo dislocates elbow, returns

May, 7, 2011
ESPN/ABC ScreenshotCeltics guard Rajon Rondo got injured scrambling for a ball with Dwyane Wade.
BOSTON -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo dislocated his left elbow trying to brace his fall midway through the third quarter of Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Miami Heat at the TD Garden. Boston's medical staff was able to pop it back into place and he returned at the start of the fourth quarter.

The injury looked far more severe when it occurred. Rondo's elbow bent awkwardly as he hit the floor as he and Miami's Dwyane Wade scrambled for a loose ball. The Celtics were on a 16-4 run to open the second half and had built a 10-point lead at 60-50 with 7:01 to play in the third quarter.

Rondo was attended to by team physician Dr. Brian McKeon and trainer Ed Lacerte before being helped to the locker room clutching the left elbow area.

Late in the third quarter, Rondo returned to the Boston bench, a white protective sleeve over the elbow. Boston carried an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter as he returned to action.

Pregame: Shaq & the force

May, 7, 2011

BOSTON -- After what seems like daily headlines for the better part of the past three months, the ShaqWatch ends Saturday night as Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed before tip-off that Shaquille O'Neal will make his much anticipated return to game action in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.

O'Neal, limited to 5 minutes of game action since Feb. 1 due to right Achilles and calf issues, will suit up for the first time since April 3 and will see time as a reserve. What can Boston expect from the Big Shamrock? Rivers said he truly has no idea, but knows what O'Neal has the potential to provide.

"It's more the power and the force he can bring us," said Rivers. "He can do that, in some ways, offensively with his duck-ins, and he can do that defensively in the rebounding area. And, listen, it's no fun to drive on Shaq. Our guys know that from practice.

"We'll let him dive in, [I told him], 'Just be you.' Obviously, Shaq can't do the things he did 15 years ago. And when he does do that, he doesn't play very well. When he comes in and kinda fills a role for this team, he's terrific for us. That's what we're hoping he can do."

Rivers said he'll let his eyeballs determine how long O'Neal can play for. To make room for O'Neal, the Celtics have deactivated point guard Carlos Arroyo. Quipped Rivers: "We've grown."

One thing Rivers stressed was how hard O'Neal worked to get to this point.

"I don’t think people realize how much he’s gone through to get to this point," said Rivers. "A week ago, two weeks ago, we weren't sure if he was going to play. As we got closer, you could see him improving. He’s had to put in a lot of time, he’s lost ton of weight since getting injured; That's just hard work and he’s done it."

Rivers said all his other players are healthy and ready to go.

Round 2, Game 3: Celtics vs. Heat

May, 7, 2011
(0-2)     -- vs. --     (2-0)
at TD Garden, 8 p.m. | ABC, WEEI (850 AM)

  • Fast Start: The Celtics need to put the Heat up against the ropes early in tonight's Game 3 -- something that didn't happen in Game 1 or 2. The C's were sluggish offensively at the start of Games 1 and 2 and trailed at the end of the first quarter in both games, which forced them to play catch-up for the rest of the night. Hitting first and getting the crowd involved will help to set a new tone for Boston, and will go a long way towards a Game 3 victory.
  • Shaq is Back?: All signs point to a Shaquille O'Neal return tonight, and it couldn't come at a better time. The last time Shaq returned from injury (April 3, in a win over the Pistons), he was a legitimate spark off the bench for five minutes before he departed with a strained calf muscle. If O'Neal does play, he'll come off the pine and will probably be on some type of minute restriction. But his presence alone (and his six hard fouls) should help to lift the Celtics' spirits as they fight to get back into this series.
  • Rondo Coming Through: Rajon Rondo's stats through the first two games have been fair (14 points and 9.5 assists, 38.5 percent shooting from the field), but he has yet to control a game the way many thought he would coming into this series. He has yet to be the most dominant player on the floor -- something he is definitely capable of given the limited resources Miami has to throw at him defensively. And should he perform in triple-double fashion, the Heat could very well switch LeBron James or Dwyane Wade onto him, which would free up either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen.
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) -- Paul Pierce has figured out how to help the Boston Celtics play better during the final minutes of their next playoff game against the Miami Heat.

He's going to stick around.

Pierce was ejected from the series opener with 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and in Game 2 he strained his left Achilles' tendon in the first half and was still hobbling down the stretch. He knows that Boston's chances of avoiding a 3-0 hole depend on his ability to stick around at the end, and he plans to be there.

"Paul Pierce being in the game in the fourth quarter, healthy, is always going to help the Celtics," he said before practice on Friday.

The Heat took the first two games of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals in Miami, and the series resumes with Game 3 on Saturday night in Boston. For these Celtics, who have never fallen behind 0-2 since the New Big Three was assembled in the summer of 2007, it's a crucial game to avoid what could be an insurmountable hole.

"We still feel like it's going to be a seven-game series," Pierce said. "I like our chances, especially with our backs against the wall."

Read the full preview HERE.

Game 3 referee assignment

May, 7, 2011
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireCeltics coach Doc Rivers has been fined for incidents with two of the three officials in Game 3.
Here's the referee assignment for Saturday's Game 3 between the Celtics and Heat: Steve Javie, Bob Delaney, and Bill Kennedy (Michael Smith is the alternate).

Forgive Celtics fans if they roll their eyes at that lineup. Doc Rivers and his players have a recent history with all three game officials and, while those past issues are unlikely to affect Saturday's game, it's worth a quick recap of those incidents:

* Javie tossed Rivers from a forgettable loss in Phoenix in January (the same game Kevin Garnett got ejected from for his low blow on Channing Frye). Rivers was fined $15,000 for not leaving the court in a timely manner.

Said Rivers of Javie: "He actually came into our huddle. We were standing there, he came up to us. I'll tell you exactly what was said. He said, 'You guys are complaining way too much.' And I said, 'Well, let's make the right calls.' And his answer back was, 'I'll make a call for you.' And that's how I got the tech... I didn't have any choice words for him. I didn't say a word. I didn't even swear then. You know what I said? 'It's about the game. It's not about one individual.' That's all I said, over and over again."

* Delaney drew the ire of Shaquille O'Neal in a Christmas Day matchup against Orlando in which the Big Shamrock fouled out in only 13 minutes of play during a nationally televised battle. O'Neal was fined $35,000 for his comments on the officiating.

Said Shaq of Delaney: "I guess they came out to see No. 26 [Delaney's uniform number] today. He was a great player out there today... [Fans] paid all that money to watch No. 26 play. If I was a fan, I would be pissed. You pay all that money for good seats, you have two of the best guys in the [NBA] sitting on the bench, out of the game. That is what happens when you have control freaks out there."

* Rivers and Kennedy landed in the headlines during the 2008-09 season after Kennedy gave Rivers the gate in a game against the Chicago Bulls. Rivers was fined $25,000 and Kennedy was also fined for the incident.

Said Rivers of Kennedy: "The technical on which I got thrown out was the most unprofessional technical by a ref I've ever had. He stood there and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me. Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about my players. That's my right to say that, and he walked away... He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game. In a [5-point] game? Think about that."

Shootaround: Shaq goes through walkthrough

May, 7, 2011

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal went through the team's walkthrough Saturday morning at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint, which leaves him on target to participate in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.

O'Neal did not address reporters, but all indications are that he will come off the bench and participate in his first game action since April 3. O'Neal, hindered by right calf and Achilles injuries, has played a mere 5 minutes since Feb. 1.

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo addressed reporters and stressed that he remains confident in the face of an 0-2 hole.

"Yeah, of course," said Rondo. "If I didn't we'd be planning vacations right now. I don't have any plans."

Shaq's impact

May, 7, 2011
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesCan Shaquille O'Neal help the Celtics reverse their fortunes?
ESPN research wizards Peter Newmann and Dean Oliver crunched the numbers and, based on the limited regular-season sampling (Shaquille O'Neal played a total of 39 minutes in two appearances vs. the Heat), suggest that the Big Shamrock still has potential to help Boston turn around this series if able to play in Game 3. Here's some of their arguments:

Celtics improved offensive efficiency

With Shaq on the court in the regular season against the Heat, the Celtics averaged 121.1 points per 100 possessions, a stunning 26.2 points per 100 possessions improvement from when Shaq was off the court.

Boston shot a tremendous 54.1 percent from the field against Miami this season with Shaq on the court. That fell to 45.5 percent with Shaq off the court.

Some of the Celtics that saw the biggest differences were Rajon Rondo, who shot 34.5 percent from the field with Shaq off the court and 50 percent with Shaq on the court, and Ray Allen, who shot 50 percent with Shaq off the court and 68.8 percent with Shaq on the court.

The five current Boston players that played with Shaq against Miami all felt huge impacts. With Shaq on the court, each saw a meaningful elevation in the team's offensive rating (points per 100 possessions).

Team Offensive Rating With Shaq on Court vs. Heat
- Glen Davis +54.1
- Ray Allen +24.5
- Rajon Rondo +24.4
- Paul Pierce +16.9
- Kevin Garnett +13.3

Boston's passing is one element of this improvement, as its percentage of assists on made field goals increased from 61.4 percent to 66.7 percent when Shaq was on the court.

Perhaps most notable is Boston's rebounding, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The Celtics rebound percentage was 54.2 percent with Shaq on the court, compared to just 45.7 percent with Shaq off the court.

Boston's offensive rebound percentage increased from 17 percent to 33.3 percent with Shaq on the court. The Celtics defensive rebound percentage increased slightly (from 70.2 percent to 75.9 percent) as well.

And now a look at the other side of the ball:

Limiting Miami defensively

Miami felt Shaq's impact as well. The Heat had a net offensive rating of +8 when Shaq was off the court. However, the Heat had a net rating of -28.3 when Shaq was on the court.

Miami's shots were about a foot and a half closer when Shaq was out of the game. The average distance of a Heat attempt with Shaq on the court was 15.1 feet. With Shaq off the court, the average distance of an attempt was 13.4 feet (1.7 feet closer).

Effectively, Shaq helped neutralize Joel Anthony. In the 15 minutes that Shaq and Anthony played head-to-head in the regular season, Anthony's plus/minus took a major hit (-17). That means the that the Celtics outscored the Heat by more than a point per minute with Shaq and Anthony on the court at the same time.

Considering that Anthony currently has the best plus/minus in the 2011 postseason at +91, including +20 in the conference semifinals against the Celtics, Shaq's ability to play becomes that much more significant.

Morning snapshot: 'Like our chances'

May, 7, 2011
A look at morning headlines, including 10 reasons why the Celtics will win Game 3:

And a look at how it's playing in Miami:

West is heating up for C's

May, 6, 2011
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDelonte West has picked up his play against the Heat.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Even the most hopeful of optimists would have difficulty drawing silver linings out of the current 0-2 series hole the Celtics find themselves in at the hands of the Miami Heat. But if ever there was one, it would have to be reserve guard Delonte West, who labored through the Celtics' first-round sweep of the New York Knicks, has once again channeled the aggressiveness that Boston needs out of him in order to be successful.

West only garnered a shade over 13 minutes per game against the Knicks, and seemed unsure as to where he could impact the game with such little floor time. The result was a string of four performances in which he averaged only two points, two rebounds, just over one assist, and less than three field goal attempts per game.

But following the series came a conversation with head coach Doc Rivers, who urged West to rekindle the assertiveness that is expected of him.

"He just wants me to turn up the aggressiveness," said West before the Celtics' final practice prior to their series with the Heat on April 29. "And for me that's not necessarily just shooting the basketball, because [anyone who] knows my game knows I can do a lot of things where I can affect the game more than just shooting the basketball. I think that's what he wants."

(Read full post)

Practice: C's are all in

May, 6, 2011

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics convened Friday for a final practice tuneup before Saturday's Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat. Here are some highlights before the team hit the floor at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint, including your daily health update on Shaquille O'Neal:

ShaqWatch: Practice Tune-up: Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated he planned to put his team through a short, but spirited practice that would include 5-on-5 activity. He said he thought his team needed live action, but particularly O'Neal as the coach remains optimistic about a potential Shaq return in Game 3.

"We’re going to have a normal practice, not that long, but we’re going to go live and go pretty hard," said Rivers. "And not very long. It's more just for our team, I think we need it. And secondly, I think Shaq needs it, so it will be great for him."

Pressed on how much O'Neal might do during the session, Rivers said: "I think everything. Once practice starts, if he’s tentative on something, we’ll stop him. I don’t think we helped him with all the stuff we did [Monday], but I thought he needed to do it."

O'Neal, limited to 5 minutes of game action since Feb. 1 due to right Achilles and calf issues, participated in his first full practice session Monday, but lingering soreness prevented him from being ready to return for Game 2 the next day. The Celtics will have to play it careful with Shaq in order to ensure he can be on the floor Saturday night.

"I can’t guarantee anything because of [Friday's] practice and the [potential soreness the] next day, but I am very confident he’ll play [Saturday]," said Rivers.

O'Neal emerged from the trainer's room and engaged in stretching activities as the media departed at the start of Boston's practice on Friday.

Betting Against Pocket Aces: Celtics forward Kevin Garnett offered plenty of entertaining soundbites on the two-game deficit that Boston finds itself facing. Maybe the most noteworthy came at the end of his confab with the media after he had been asked about trying to stop Miami's 1-2 punch of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

"Figure it out," said Garnett. "I told you, this is all in. This is it. I've got two pocket kings and I'm all in. Let's do it."

Garnett is either hoping to catch a king on the flop, or doesn't believe James and Wade constitute pocket rockets. Either way, asked as a follow-up how it feels to be in this situation, Garnett summed it up succinctly: "Sucks," and with that hit the floor to warm-up for practice.

More Achilles chatter: Celtics captain Paul Pierce said he's feeling good after a few days of treatment for the left Achilles strain that temporarily forced him out of Tuesday's Game 2 loss.

"It's feeling pretty good," said Pierce. "Last couple days of treatment, it's feeling pretty good. Just a lot of ice, massaging it. [Stimulation] treatment, electronic shock, little stuff. It was just a minor strain, but it's doing good."

Pierce appeared in an upbeat mood and, pressed on whether he can make a difference in the fourth quarter, this after being ejected from Game 1 and playing through injury in Game 2, Pierce smiled and played along by dropping a third-person reference.

"Paul Pierce being in the game in the fourth quarter is always going to help the Celtics," said Pierce. "Healthy."



ESPN Boston high school football: Week 3 preview

ESPN Boston high school football: Week 3 preview


Jeff Green
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9