Boston Celtics: 2012Game65

Notes: Rivers optimistic about Allen

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
1:29
AM ET
BOSTON -- A collection of news and notes following the Celtics' 78-66 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

RIVERS THINKS ALLEN WILL BE READY FOR PLAYOFFS

Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged prior to Tuesday's victory that Ray Allen's prolonged ankle woes are a "concern," but he did offer one of his only glances of hope in recent weeks after the game, when he noted that he thinks Allen will be ready for the postseason, which will begin either Saturday or Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.

"I think Ray will be ready," Rivers said. "I don't know that. I do think he will be ready. But if he's not, someone else has to be."

WILLIAMS MAKES GARDEN DEBUT

Playing in only his second game with the Celtics, Sean Williams made his TD Garden debut on Tuesday night, and it was a noticeable improvement over his brief three-minute stint against the Hawks last Friday. Williams played 20 minutes on Tuesday, scoring 5 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals.

His most distinguishing impact came in the fourth quarter, in which he managed 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, helping to spark Boston as it outscored Miami 28-16 over the final 12 minutes. Williams impressed Rivers with his competitiveness down the stretch.

"It was OK. I mean, he's a shot-blocker, doesn't know a lot of our stuff," Rivers said when asked to assess Williams' performance. "He was pressing early. ... One thing I did like about Sean down the stretch -- he's competitive, and you can see that. He wasn't going to back down from anything. He got some great blocked shots, so that was good to see."

When informed of Rivers' compliment to his competitiveness, Williams touched on the need to take advantage of opportunities when they're presented.

"This team, we have goals. We want to be champions," Williams said. "Everybody has to come out focused, with the mindset that we can't waste any time out there, and we can only get better with every opportunity. A game like this, with the Big Four out, all of us players on the bench -- a lot of the players haven't had a lot of action this year and what not -- it's a chance to prove to Doc that we're ready whenever he's going to call us."

Williams played less than eight minutes in the first half, but settled into a rhythm nicely in the final quarter, and was able to produce in a variety of areas. He admitted afterward that he was more relaxed throughout the second half, and that allowed him to be more effective.

"You go out there, your first time out there, you get tired real fast, your legs get down on you real quick," he said. "Everything kind of shuts down on you when you first get out there, so, yeah, I caught my second wind, I guess, in the second half."

HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE STILL POSSIBLE

The Celtics are set to play the Atlanta Hawks in the opening round of the playoffs this weekend, but where the first two games will be held has not been decided. Both the Celtics and Hawks won on Tuesday, meaning the Celtics still trail Atlanta by a game in the standings. Both teams wrap up the regular season on Thursday (Boston will face Milwaukee while Atlanta will battle Dallas), but if the Celtics win and the Hawks lose, leaving the teams with the same record, Boston will assume home-court advantage by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker (the C's won two of three regular-season meetings).

Despite a desire to still rest any players that might need it, there's no denying Thursday's game takes on heightened significance.

"We're going to play our guys Thursday, anyway, especially because they didn't play today," Rivers said, referring to the likes of Kevin Garnett and Mickael Pietrus. "It would be nice to put some more pressure and force Atlanta to have to win. That would be nice."

Added Keyon Dooling, "We expect to win every time we go out on the court. No matter who suits up, we expect to win the game. Hopefully our guys are getting their rest, which is really important, but our seeding is important as well. If we have to get that win, we're coming in trying to tear their head off."

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 78, Heat 66

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
10:52
PM ET


BOSTON -- Rapid reaction following the Boston Celtics' 78-66 victory over the Miami Heat at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Marquis Daniels (13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) and Sasha Pavlovic (a game-high 16 points) both reached double-figures for Boston, while Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Avery Badley all chipped in 8 points for the Celtics. Bass added eight rebounds, shooting 4-of-8 from the field in 28 minutes. For the Heat, James Jones scored 11 points while Dexter Pittman added 12 points and four rebounds.

TURNING POINT
The Heat pushed their third-quarter lead to 42-32 on a Mike Miller 3-pointer with 9:15 to play, but the Celtics outscored Miami 18-8 for the remainder of the quarter, assuming a brief 2-point cushion before a Norris Cole jumper tied things at 50 heading into the final frame. The Celtics held a consistent 6-point lead over the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter before the game was broken open somewhat (by this game's standards) on a Pavlovic 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:45 to go. Pavlovic struck again a little over two minutes later with another momentum-inducing 3-pointer from the left wing, putting the Celtics ahead by 11, then E'Twaun Moore cemented Boston's win with a 3-pointer from the top of the key less than 30 seconds later.

BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME
With 9:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, Daniels intercepted a Juwan Howard pass at halfcourt and pushed the ball the other way, rising up for a wide-open, emphatic slam, giving Boston its first lead of the fourth quarter at 54-52.

WILLIAMS MAKES HOME DEBUT
Celtics newcomer Sean Williams made his TD Garden debut, finishing with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks, playing a season-high 13 minutes. Williams was noticeable throughout Boston's early fourth-quarter surge, blocking a Howard jump shot, putting back a JaJuan Johnson miss on the left side, and grabbing three of his four rebounds over the first six minutes of the frame.

TEAMS MIRED BY UGLY START
The first quarter was nothing to write home about as both teams, perhaps due to their mutual lack of star power, struggled mightily out of the gate. The Celtics managed just 10 first-quarter points on 4-of-17 shooting to go along with seven turnovers, while Miami scored a slightly more respectable 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting, but the Heat turned the ball over a whopping 11 times in the opening 12 minutes.

UNSUNG HERO
Despite sustaining a sizable cut under his right eye late in the second quarter from a Jones elbow, Keyon Dooling proved to be a spark off the bench as he chipped in 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting to go along with three rebounds and two assists, finishing with a plus-5.

WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics and Hawks both won on Tuesday night, but the Celtics kept themselves alive in the hunt for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If the Celtics win on Thursday in their regular-season finale against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Hawks loose their final game on the same night against the Dallas Mavericks, the Celtics will clinch the homecourt edge by virtue of owning the tiebreaker. The Celtics were able to get valuable minutes for certain players who, depending on how things shake out, could have an impact on their postseason run, including Daniels, Pavlovic and even Moore. Pierce, meanwhile, despite a slow start, was able to reestablish his rhythm after a lengthy break from action in the aftermath of sitting out last Friday's tilt with the Hawks.

Pregame: Pierce back, but that's about it

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
7:49
PM ET
BOSTON -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Paul Pierce is expected to return to the lineup tonight against the Heat following a one-game absence to rest, but that the team will be without Kevin Garnett (rest/hip flexor), Ray Allen (ankle), Rajon Rondo (lower back), Mickael Pietrus (knee) and Greg Stiemsma (foot).

Rivers said he wanted to play Garnett tonight, but that his center approached him about taking the night off to continue to rest and recover from a longstanding hip flexor issue.

"I wanted to play [Garnett] tonight," Rivers said. "My choice was more tonight and give him a day off Thursday. Kevin never comes in and when he comes in to say 'I think I need two more days,' it speaks volumes."

Rivers said there is no update on Allen's progress as he fights to overcome bone spurs in his troublesome left ankle, but Rivers did express encouragement over Pietrus' state, noting that the swelling in his knee has subsided, and he expects to have him back for Thursday's regular-season finale against the Bucks.

"[Pietrus] didn't practice yesterday, but he did shoot," Rivers said. "Swelling's all gone, which is huge, and he will play Thursday."

According to Rivers, Rondo is still fighting through lower back pain following a scary fall against the Knicks last Tuesday, but he could return for Thursday's game.

"[Rondo's] just not ready yet," Rivers said. "He didn't do much at shootaround today, still very stiff. But he's feeling a lot better. Today was the first day he was out on the floor shooting, so he'll probably play on Thursday."

For Tuesday's game, expect to see a starting lineup of Avery Bradley, Sasha Pavlovic, Pierce, Brandon Bass and Ryan Hollins.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jared Sullinger
PTS AST STL MIN
14.1 2.2 0.7 28.8
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsE. Turner 4.4
StealsM. Smart 1.1
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.7