Boston Celtics: 2012Round1Game3

GameCenter: Hawks seeing stars

May, 5, 2012
BOSTON -- ESPN Boston headlines after the Celtics defeated the Hawks in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at TD Garden, including Jackie MacMullan on Rajon Rondo's triple-double coming off a suspension and Chris Forsberg on Ray Allen's return to the lineup:

Rondo's one-of-a-kind performance

May, 5, 2012
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesRajon Rondo’s triple-double helped the Celtics take a 2-1 series lead over the Hawks.
From our friends at ESPN Stats and Info:
Rajon Rondo made plenty of history in the Boston Celtics’ 90-84 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks. Rondo became the first player in NBA history with at least 17 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals in a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Elias also tells us he’s the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double in a playoff game after missing his team’s previous game.

Rondo triple-doubles equal Celtics wins. In Rondo’s 20 career triple-doubles (13 in regular season, seven in playoffs), the Celtics have a 19-1 record. The lone loss came to the Chicago Bulls in the 2009 first round.

Including the regular season and playoffs, nobody has more triple-doubles than Rajon Rondo (20) since the start of the 2008-09 season. Rondo’s seven career playoff triple-doubles are tied with LeBron James for the second-most among active players, trailing only Jason Kidd’s 11.

Hop HERE to read more, including other statistical nuggets from Game 3.

Postgame: KG on 'Swag'

May, 5, 2012

BOSTON -- News and notes after the Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 90-84 in overtime in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Friday evening at TD Garden:

* After the Celtics won Game 2 in Atlanta on Tuesday, Rajon Rondo -- suspended that night for bumping an official in Game 1 -- recalled how he raced down the tunnel to greet Kevin Garnett and thank him for his effort. Garnett was happy to see Boston's young point guard back on the floor Friday in Boston.

"I said Swag -- that's what we call him around here, Swag; the young boy's got a lot of swag -- it's good to see him in the building, good to see him in practice," said Garnett. "After the game, actually, in Atlanta, we'd seen him after the game and it's just good to see him. The kid's still learning, still getting better. He and Ray [Allen] tonight, [were] pure energy. It was good."

While Garnett struggled from the field, Rondo's assists helped facilitate much of his offense. Even still, he wasn't about to let Swag off the hook and played fashion police when informed of Rondo's postgame attire of a black blazer over an Angry Birds T-shirt that read, "I'm So Fly."

"Yeah, I saw that -- with red jeans," said Garnett. "But, like I said, that's Swag."

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Pierce: No sleep 'til offseason

May, 5, 2012
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce drives on Joe Johnson in Game 3.
BOSTON -- At this point, Paul Pierce is probably ready to sleep up until the opening tip of Sunday's Game 4 between the Celtics and Hawks.

Just three days after tweeting about the need for a bed in the aftermath of a 44-minute outing in Game 2 (in which he registered 36 points and 14 rebounds), Pierce was forced to go for 47 minutes in Friday's 90-84 overtime victory in Game 3.

And while he didn't come through with a monster double-double in this one -- he finished with a modest 21 points and five rebounds, missing a chance to win the game in the final seconds of regulation -- he might have exerted even more effort in what turned out to be an uglier, grind-it-out, workman-like performance.

His shot total shrank from 26 on Tuesday to just 12 on Friday, largely due to the return of both Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, and he struggled to find any semblance of rhythm on offense, hitting just three shots on the evening.

But despite those struggles, Pierce still managed to be Pierce in two distinct ways: For the second consecutive game he got to the free throw line more than 10 times -- he finished a perfect 14-for-14 from the charity stripe -- and he overcame his earlier shooting woes with a fading jumper from the free throw line with just under three minutes to go in overtime, giving the Celtics a 4-point edge.

"Sometimes that's what it's got to be," Pierce said of getting to the line consistently. "Every night it's not going to be your night. Obviously, the dynamics of the system change when you add Rondo and you add Ray, so the shots that I got last game probably weren't going to be there. I didn't expect to get 26 shots up tonight. Sometimes it's tough to get a rhythm, but you have other guys who can step up. I did my part. That's what's most important. I don't care about the shots or the touches. It's about me doing my part and helping this ballclub win."

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Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyCeltics guard Avery Bradley injured his shoulder Sunday.
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said starting shooting guard Avery Bradley dislocated his left shoulder during Friday's Game 3 win over the Atlanta Hawks in a Eastern Conference quarterfinal series and his status moving forward is uncertain.

"Shoulder went out," Rivers said. "And he's had that problem all year. Usually they're able to -- like a Lego -- snap it back in. It wouldn't go back in. So we'll find out more [Saturday]."

Bradley suffered the injury late in the third quarter and departed for the locker room along with team doctor Brian McKeon with 2:06 to play in the frame. The team initially said Bradley would return, but soon ruled him out for the rest of the game.

Bradley was Boston's most durable player during the regular season, appearing in a team-high 64 games. By season's end, he had supplanted Ray Allen in the team's starting lineup. Before Friday's game, Bradley finished eighth in the NBA's Most Improved Player balloting.

Bradley finished Friday's game with 5 points, 4 rebounds and a block over 24:54. Allen, who played his first game since April 10 (ankle injury), picked up the slack, logging a whopping 36:51.

Allen could be in line to rejoin the starting lineup if Bradley can't go (assuming Allen's ankles bounce back after Friday's effort).

"I know Avery went down, [but] we have a day and a half to rest and prepare for Sunday," Allen said. "I’m pretty sure he’ll recover, and if not we have, if you look at our bench, from [Mickael] Pietrus to Sasha [Pavlovic] to Marquis [Daniels], all three of those guys over the past couple months or so have played well. So whether Doc starts me or not, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Rapid Reaction: C's 90, Hawks 84 (OT)

May, 4, 2012
Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireJeff Teague tries to wiggle his way through Avery Bradley and Kevin Garnett in Game 3.
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 90-84 in overtime in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Friday night at TD Garden:

Rajon Rondo overcame a sluggish start (0-for-3, 2 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds in first half) to produce his 20th career triple-double (15th on national TV, seventh in postseason) with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. Paul Pierce missed nine of the 12 shots he took but made 14 free throws to score a team-high 21 points, while Kevin Garnett added 20 points and 13 rebounds. Joe Johnson paced Atlanta with 29 points on 11-of-28 shooting, while Jeff Teague added 23 points.

Rondo utilized a little spin move in transition to get into the paint, which drew Tracy McGrady with help defense. It also left Pierce open in the left corner in front of the Atlanta bench and he drilled a 3-pointer -- only his second field goal of the night -- for a 70-64 lead with 8:49 to go. That was Rondo's 10th assist. Coming out of a timeout, McGrady turned the ball over and Rondo went the other way for a switching-hands, reverse layup and his 10th point of the night (the triple-double came soon after with two more rebounds).

The Celtics were clinging to a 65-64 lead with 9:20 to go before Rondo delivered a driving layup. The spinning dish to Pierce and his reverse layup followed, and Garnett added four more points as part of an 11-1 run to put Boston out front 76-65 with 6:58 to go. That should have been enough, but the Celtics weren't out of the woods.

Down eight with 2:31 to go, the Hawks needed little more than a minute to tie the game. Willie Green and Johnson each hit trifectas (a Johnson jumper sandwiched in between) to knot the game at 80 with 1:23 to play. Atlanta had a chance to pull ahead, but McGrady's layup attempt was too strong. The Celtics got a final chance, but -- stop if you've heard this before -- Pierce's step-back from his right-elbow sweet spot misfired despite getting Johnson in the air.

Rondo hit a little turnaround hook over Teague, and Pierce followed with a step-back free-throw-line jumper for a four-point cushion midway through the overtime session. Garnett produced the big bucket, however, putting back a Rondo miss with an emphatic slam with 28.1 seconds remaining that had Boston out front 88-84. The Hawks didn't help their cause by making just 2 of 11 shots in overtime.

Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen returned to a thunderous ovation with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter. Hiding behind screens from Pierce and Greg Stiemsma, he buried a baseline jumper 33 seconds later. He had a good look at a 3-pointer from the right wing the next trip down, but couldn't knock it down. In all, he finished with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting (even if he missed 2 of 3 free throws).

McGrady might have been the best player on the floor in the first half. Turning back the clock, he made 5-of-9 shots while chipping in 10 points, 6 rebounds and an assist over 16:43. He endured a brief injury scare (right ankle) at the end of the half, but was back on the court for the second half. He finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Celtics shot a mere 28.6 percent in the first quarter and Allen (2-for-4) had as many field goals as his Big Four brethren combined (Pierce, Garnett and Rondo were 2-for-13). The teams shot a combined 39.5 percent (45-of-114) through three quarters (C's at 39.2 percent; Hawks at 39.7) and Boston led 60-58 heading to the final frame.

With Beastie Boys cofounder Adam Yauch passing away at age 47 on Friday, the Garden delivered a pair of the band's hits with "Girls" and "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)." Considering how the team shot for much of the game, it's no surprise they skipped playing "Sure Shot."

Celtics second-year shooting guard Avery Bradley went to the locker room late in the third quarter with what the team termed a sore left shoulder. The team initially said he would return, but he was ruled out early in the fourth quarter.

Keeping with the daily theme of the season, the Celtics made things far harder on themselves than they needed to be. The Hawks were playing without Josh Smith (and previously missing Al Horford and Zaza Puchilia), but Boston let Atlanta hang around all night. A win is a win this time of year, and you can win 16 ugly ones and still get a trophy. That said, you have to wonder about the strain Boston is putting on its key guys, as Pierce (47:06), Garnett (42:00), Rondo (48:40) and even Allen (36:51 in his return) logged heavy floor time. Alas, the victory will take some of those pains away and Boston owns a 2-1 series edge with Game 4 back in Boston on Sunday evening.

Bradley departs with shoulder injury

May, 4, 2012

Celtics starting shooting guard Avery Bradley suffered a left shoulder injury and left the game with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter.

The Celtics initially announced that Bradley simply had a sore left shoulder and that he would return. Soon after, he was declared out for the remainder of the game.

Bradley finished with 5 points and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Pregame: Allen back for Game 3

May, 4, 2012

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen will return to action Friday night in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Atlanta Hawks after missing the team's last 11 games due to right ankle soreness.

Coach Doc Rivers said Allen responded well to heightened activity in going through the team's 75-minute practice Thursday, but admitted that, while there will be no specific restrictions Friday, expectations are tempered by the face this will be Allen's first real full-court action since the injury sidelined him nearly a month ago.

"Obviously, he hasn't played, he hasn't gone up and down since he’s been injured," Rivers said. "We did only half-court yesterday, so tonight will be his first time playing full-court in about three weeks... He looked OK [in practice]. He looked a little rusty, which he should be. But he was aggressive and that was good to see."

One thing River stressed is that the injury could sideline Allen again moving forward and not to expect that his return ensures his availability for the rest of the playoffs.

"I think he just came to the conclusion that the pain’s not going to go away," Rivers said. "He has to find a way to play with it. He has to find a way to be effective with it. I think he also probably accepts there may be a day or two that he can’t play. And I think what everyone is trying to do is eliminate it, so when he’s back to back. I don’t think we are thinking in those terms anymore. We’re just going to go game in and game out and see how he does."

For the Hawks, forward Josh Smith is out due to a strained tendon in his left knee. Marvin Williams will start in his place.

Number crunch: Stiemsma on the glass

May, 4, 2012
A look at some noteworthy numbers before the Celtics host the Hawks in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at TD Garden, as researched by our friends at Elias Sports Bureau:

* Celtics rookie center Greg Stiemsma is averaging 21.3 rebounds per 48 minutes in this year’s playoffs. Only one player is averaging more rebounds per 48 minutes than Stiemsma in the postseason (minimum 25 minutes): Utah’s Enes Kanter (24.0).

* Sure, the Celtics missed their first 19 3-pointers of the series, but one Hawk has his own dubious trifecta streak: Josh Smith has missed each of his last 13 attempts from 3-point range in the playoffs dating back to last year’s postseason. That is tied with the Lakers’ Matt Barnes for most consecutive 3-pointers missed among players who have appeared in a game in the 2012 playoffs.

* The Hawks are shooting only 29.3 percent from the field in the second half in this series. There are seven players that have made 25 percent or less of their second-half field-goal attempts in the playoffs (min: 10 attempts) and three of them are on Atlanta: Joe Johnson (3-for-16, .188), Josh Smith (4-for-18, .222) and Jeff Teague (3-for-12, .250). The others are Jason Kidd (2-for-17, .118), Shane Battier (2-for-11, .182), Vince Carter (3-for-14, .214) and Landry Fields (3-for-12, .250).

* Paul Pierce registered 36 points and 14 rebounds in Boston’s Game 2 victory on Tuesday night. Only two other players in Boston’s franchise history have recorded at least 35 points and 14 rebounds in a playoff game: Tom Heinsohn did it twice (April 13, 1957 and April 19, 1963) and Dave Cowens (April 24, 1977).

* The Celtics have won nine of the 10 playoff series played between these two teams, with the Hawks only series victory against Boston coming in the 1958 NBA Finals while the team was located in St. Louis. Boston’s .900 winning percentage in playoff series against the Hawks is the highest any team has over another in NBA history (minimum: six series played).

* Tracy McGrady has played 40 career playoff games, and all have taken place in the first round. That is the second-most career playoff games for any player that made his NBA debut in the 1983-84 season or later (the year the current playoff format was instituted) and has never appeared in a game beyond the first round, trailing only Andre Miller (41).

* The Celtics have scored fewer than 100 points in each of the last 14 playoff games they have played at home, the longest streak of its kind in Boston’s postseason history (previous long: seven straight in 2008). Only one team has a longer current streak of consecutive home playoff games with fewer than 100 points than Boston: New York (26 straight).

2-on-2: Celtics vs. Hawks (Game 3)

May, 4, 2012
AP Photo/David GoldmanThose jeers will turn to cheers in Boston for Paul Pierce and the Celtics.
The Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks are knotted at 1 game apiece as the series shifts to TD Garden for Game 3 on Friday night (7:30 p.m., ESPN). To preview the matchup, we play a game of 2-on-2 with colleague Greg Payne.

1. What are you expecting from Rajon Rondo in Game 3?

Payne: I'm expecting a triple-double. While Tuesday was Paul Pierce's night, tonight will belong to Rondo. Despite him not being more apologetic for getting ejected from Game 2, I firmly expect him to make it up to his teammates by coming through with a truly dominating performance tonight. It'll be his first chance to atone for his mistake and, when you factor in the momentum the Celtics are rolling with right now, it's easy to envision Rondo stepping back in and propelling Boston to an easier Game 3 victory tonight.

Forsberg: Rondo was adamant Thursday that he wouldn't press on Friday, trying to atone for missing Game 2 due to suspension. But even coach Doc Rivers noted that the best way to truly thank his teammates would be for Rondo to go out and lead his squad on Friday night. As long as he doesn't try to overexert himself, Rondo should dazzle. He was the best player on the floor in Game 1 before his ejection for bumping an official. The Celtics have been pretty cold from the floor overall and Rondo's return -- along with a friendlier environment -- might be just what they need to rekindle their jump shots. Rondo knows that all eyes are on him, which typically produces some of his finer efforts.

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Changing of the Celtics guards

May, 4, 2012
BOSTON -- A look at ESPN Boston's offday headlines, including Jackie MacMullan on the Ray Allen-Rajon Rondo relationship and Chris Forsberg on why Rondo doesn't feel the need to apologize publicly following his Game 2 suspension:

And the rest of the headlines ...
AP Photo/Amy SancettaThe Celtics are still waiting for Mickael Pietrus' first postseason basket.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The big story lines at Thursday's Celtics practice might have been Ray Allen's optimism about his ailing ankle and Rajon Rondo's thankfulness towards his teammates, but here's a few more nuggets from the session:

* Mickael Pietrus picked up three fouls in a 34-second span early in Game 2 and seemed to mentally check out despite earning the spot start, which led to Rivers screaming at him on the bench during a first-half timeout (Kevin Garnett put in his two cents as well). Pietrus appeared to mope a bit, shuffling to the end of the bench after being taken out of the game soon after (injured Allen actually went down and tried to talk to him a bit). But Rivers loved how Pietrus responded when he went back in for the second half.

"I thought he did great, he came back in and defended very well," said Rivers. "I thought that was huge for us. You’re going to get it at times in the games. And it’s going to come from me or someone else. It was good -- he got emotional, we took him out, but we brought him back in and he was great."

Pietrus has missed all five shots he's taken this series (all 3-pointers) and has more fouls (6) and turnovers (2) than points (0). But Rivers continues to stress his importance on offense, especially as Allen struggles to get back on the floor.

"[Pietrus is] the one guy that, he hasn’t made a shot, but he’s capable of making a shot, and the other team thinks he can make a shot," said Rivers.

* Rivers spent a lot of time talking about the frustration at a lack of spacing on the floor for his offense. The Hawks have often smothered Boston's top scoring options and Rivers stressed the importance of establishing Kevin Garnett in the post moving forward in the series.

"They are killing us with their help," said Rivers. "They just decided that, without Ray on the floor, they are going to swarm everybody and you're going to have to find someone."

* Rivers expect Josh Smith (knee) to play in Friday's Game 3. Atlanta's star big man sat out the final 4:20 of Tuesday's Game 2 and an MRI Wednesday revealed a strained tendon that left him classified as day-to-day. Rivers didn't hesitate when asked Thursday about whether the team believes he'll suit up, "Yeah, he's playing."

* The team started its morning session with film and, as he was leaving the court following media access, Allen rattled home a walkoff midcourt heave. That ankle injury has done nothing to limit his range. Word from the Celtics after the session was encouraging as well: Allen made it through the full 75-minute session on the court (the team worked mostly in halfcourt sets, which means there wasn't a lot of activity). The key remains how that ankle responds Friday.
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesRajon Rondo gets tossed from Game 1 vs. the Hawks.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo stressed his gratitude to teammates for pulling out a Game 2 victory without him Tuesday night in Atlanta, but meeting with reporters Thursday at the team's practice facility, Rondo stopped short of apologizing for his actions that led to a one-game suspension after bumping a referee in Game 1.

"I try not to let my emotions get the best of me, but I’m an emotional player," said Rondo. "I try to keep my composure and my emotions to myself, but it was a heat-of-the-battle moment and I wanted to win. We make mistakes. I’m not on trial, or anything.

"We still got the win," he added when asked if he understood how detrimental it was for the team to not have him in a key playoff game. "I’m important to the team -- everybody is important to the team, one way or another. Obviously, I'm the starting point guard for this team, but there are guys that get paid to do this. It's a 15-man roster. Guys stepped up and played well. Regardless of how we got the win, we got the win."

Rondo might not have seemed contrite Thursday, maintaing a brash confidence in front of the microphones, but his actions Tuesday suggested he was genuinely thrilled that his teammates won the game without him.

"I think I ran down the tunnel and gave [Kevin Garnett] the first hug, told him, ‘Thank you.’ I appreciate everything you guys have done for me," said Rondo. "Obviously, they won it for themselves, but they told me, ‘We got this one for you.’ That felt good. It felt like I was a part of it. It changed the series."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers described how Rondo waited outside the team bus after the game to shake hands with many of his teammates and again thank them for pulling out a pivotal victory.

"He was very happy, thanking guys as we were getting on the bus," said Rivers. "That’s great. I don’t know if he would have done that two years ago. He would have been thankful, but he would have been in the back of the bus with his head down -- down on himself. Instead, I’m sure he still was [down on himself], but he showed emotion towards the other guys. I keep saying it, you guys get the luxury, including me, of watching him grow up in front of us. That’s a step there."

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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics guard Ray Allen offered optimism over his ailing right ankle and said he expected to go through practice with the team on Thursday, but coach Doc Rivers stressed that he'll keep a close eye on Allen's activity while trying to figure out the proper balance that will allow him to get back to game action.

"The last couple of days, I've been in a really good place, so I'm optimistic," said Allen. "If I'm sitting here [Friday] feeling good, that's a different story. I am optimistic about practicing today so that's definitely a great step for me moving forward."

Allen missed the final nine games of the regular season and the first two games of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Atlanta Hawks due to soreness in a right ankle that will require surgery to remove bone spurs after the season. Allen has been a game-time decision each of the first two games and will likely be the same for Friday's Game 3 at TD Garden, the key being how his ankle responds to Thursday's activity.

"He wants to do more today, so we’ll see," said Rivers. "We did that [Monday] and it didn’t work. So, we have to maybe limit Ray from Ray. He’s such a creature of habit and I actually thought that might have hurt him or any chance for him to play, obviously. [The ankle] reacted that poorly after just the workout he did [Monday], it was probably good that he didn’t play, at the end of the day."

Rivers said he'll put Allen through practice on his watch and stressed he'll pull the reins if necessary.

"He’s a tough one, he's such a creature of habit, and he does his workouts -- the night before every game he comes in and does two hours of shooting and then before the game he does his hour of shooting. That’s a lot of work," said Rivers. "We have to figure out a way to allow him to do some of it, but not so much where he just can’t play. I’d rather take 10 minutes of him on the floor than nothing, if that’s what it comes to."

Rivers said no one on the team is really quite sure how to bring Allen along.

"He told me [Wednesday] that he was going to practice and I told him, ‘We’ll see.’ Really, I don’t even know what to do. Honest to God," said Rivers. "[Team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and our doctors, we’ve all talked -- we don’t know what else to do. We don’t know if practice is a good idea or not."

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Smith (strained tendon) day-to-day

May, 2, 2012
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesJosh Smith is day-to-day with a strained tendon in his left knee.
Atlanta's Josh Smith has a strained tendon in his left knee and his status is day-to-day, according to the Hawks.'s John Hollinger detailed Smith's ailment that forced him out of Tuesday's Game 2 loss to Boston in today's Daily Dime:
It appeared the knee had been bothering him for much of the fourth quarter, especially on a layup try at the 5:14 mark that he missed, but Smith may have aggravated whatever injury he had in a collision with Kevin Garnett just before he checked out. Television replays showed his knee giving a bit after Garnett bumped into him with 4:40 left, and 20 seconds later he was in the locker room and done for the night.

This one isn't in Rose-Shumpert territory -- Smith walked off the court and left the arena under his own power -- but even a lesser injury would likely eliminate Smith for the rest of this series, and that in turn would effectively end any threat Atlanta posed to the Celtics.

Certainly that was the case in this game, as an Atlanta side that floundered through much of the fourth went completely off the rails once Smith checked out.



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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