Boston Celtics: Game 82

C's mindset: It's all about us

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
8:22
AM ET
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaPaul Pierce lounges during Wednesday's regular-season finale against the Bucks.
BOSTON -- As the New Jersey Nets-Miami Heat game spilled into overtime Wednesday, reporters found themselves crammed into the hallway outside the Celtics' locker room, huddled around an iPhone playing the final moments of the game, and eager to see the outcome that would dictate Boston's first-round playoff opponent.

But as Mario Chalmers dribbled down the clock, preparing to take a potential winning shot, Celtics captain Paul Pierce emerged from the trainer's room, decked out in sunglasses, and walked straight out of the building.

Pierce didn't seem to care that Chalmers' 3-point attempt was off the mark, forcing a second overtime, where the Heat (finally) prevailed 94-86 to set up an opening-round series with the Celtics.

Inside the Celtics' locker room, the Nets-Heat game also was met with indifference. Kendrick Perkins, reclining in a chair in the middle of the room, stood up at the end of the first extra session and decided it wasn't worth sticking around.

Several teammates followed suit.

Ray Allen emerged and didn't even glance at the television that reporters were circled around, still awaiting a final score.

"I know the game is on," said Allen. "At some point we'll know who we are playing. I'm not worried about it."

Allen knew the Milwaukee Bucks, the team that defeated the Celtics 106-95 Wednesday night in what amounted to a junior varsity game were across the hall watching the same game, eager to see if they'd be extending their stay in Boston.

But Allen figured it didn't matter if it was Milwaukee or Miami who would be occupying the visitor's locker room this weekend.

"It has nothing to do with those two teams," said Allen. "It's all about us."

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Postgame notes: Oliver's opportunity

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
12:40
AM ET
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesOliver Lafayette fights through traffic in his pro debut against Milwaukee.
BOSTON -- A collection of postgame news and notes after the Milwaukee Bucks topped the Boston Celtics in the regular-season finale Wednesday night at the TD Garden:

The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
* Lafayette makes most of opportunity
* Surgery likely for Scal, but he plays on
* Not a lot to cheer about on Fan Appreciation Night

Lafayette makes most of opportunity

The Celtics-Bucks tilt might have seemed meaningless to most, but for Oliver Lafayette, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Lafayette, a 6-foot-2 guard signed by the Celtics on Wednesday with eyes toward competing for a roster spot in the summer, logged nearly 22 minutes of court time, while scoring seven points on 3-of-6 shooting with four rebounds and two assists.

After two strong seasons in the NBA Development League, including a strong finish to the 2009-10 campaign with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Lafayette got word the Celtics might be interested. He admitted he battled nerves before Wednesday's game, but his natural ability took over on the court.

"I was just trying to play basketball," said Lafayette, a native of Baton Rouge, La., which endeared him to fellow Louisiana native Glen Davis. "I was nervous on the bench, watching the guys play. But once I was in the game, that’s just basketball."

It didn't hurt that Oliver instantly opened eyes. A minute into the second quarter, he spun through the lane and dished to Shelden Williams for a baseline dunk. A few minutes later he splashed his first shot, a 21-foot jumper, and added a 6-foot runner soon after.

"It took a lot of the nerves away," Lafayette said of his quick start. "You don't have to worry, you can let the game come to you. There's a lot of great guys out there, all you have to do is get open."

Lafayette got some tutelage along the way. Nate Robinson schooled him on the art of taking a knee after the opening tip-off and staying on it until Boston produced its first bucket of the game. Ray Allen plopped down next to him on the Boston bench and dispensed knowledge throughout the game.

Surgery likely for Scal, but he plays on

According to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, forward Brian Scalabrine likely will head under the knife in the offseason to repair damage in his right shoulder, but he surprised his coach by deeming himself fit to play in Wednesday's regular-season finale.

"He's going to play and, honestly, that's a shock to me, because two days ago, he almost had surgery on the shoulder," Rivers said before the game. "He probably will have it [in the offseason], but the bottom line is he wants to play, so he's going to play."

With Boston playing with nine available bodies -- Ray Allen, Paul Pierce,and Kendrick Perkins were active but held out -- Scalabrine logged nearly 30 minutes, scoring five points and grabbing a pair of rebounds.

Scalabrine, who did not accompany the team on its recent two-game trip to Milwaukee and Chicago, had been inactive for 18 of the past 20 games, playing a total of 11 minutes in two appearances in late March. A free agent after this season, he could still end up back in Boston with the team thin on bodies, but it's hard to imagine the Celtics would be interested in spending the type of money he's making this season ($3.4 million) to keep him in green.

Not a lot to cheer about on Fan Appreciation Night

Boston benched five of its top nine players for Wednesday's regular-season finale, including the entire Big Three and starting center Kendrick Perkins, and Rivers acknowledged that there was bound to be some disappointed fans in attendance.

"I do see the other side," said Rivers. "There's going to be some fans here tonight for the first time in their lives seeing the Celtics play. Clearly they bought tickets to see the Big Three play and they're not going to see them. To me, that's not right. But on the other hand, they are Celtics fans and they probably want to see their team do the best in the playoffs, so it's a tough call.

"I do get it, but I don't know how you avoid it. As I told [reporters] the other day, I got injured in the 82nd game before the playoffs [during the 1992-93 season]. That's always on my mind. I don't know what you do. There's no way to stop teams from saying a guy is injured, unless you send doctors all over the country."

Boston utilized a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Michael Finley, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace on Fan Appreciation Night. Locked into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, Rivers didn't want to risk an injury -- or a 16th and potentially suspension-inducing technical for Perkins -- and played it safe. But he stressed he did not tank Wednesday's game.

"We're not playing guys, but we're playing to win, make no mistake," said Rivers. "I'll coach like a normal game. We're playing this game to win. For some guys, this game is important. Marquis and Nate [Robinson], it's very important rhythm-wise."

First impressions: Bucks 106, Celtics 95

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
10:22
PM ET
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaFinally, the postseason is here after Wednesday's regular-season finale.
BOSTON -- Instant reaction after the Milwaukee Bucks posted a 106-95 triumph over the Boston Celtics in the regular-season finale Wednesday night at TD Garden:

How the game was won: Maybe it's appropriate that the Celtics closed out their regular-season home slate with a loss as they posted a dismal 24-17 record at TD Garden. Wednesday's loss to the Bucks was the least frustrating of the batch in what amounted to a junior varsity game. Jerry Stackhouse and Luke Ridnour scored 17 points apiece to pace four Milwaukee reserves in double figures. Rajon Rondo posted 21 points and 15 assists to pace Boston.

Turning point: Some would say the game was pretty much decided when Celtics coach Doc Rivers made the decision to sit four of his five starters, including the entire Big Three. Boston actually led by a point with 4:43 to play in the third quarter, but the Bucks scored 10 of the game's next 12 points, spearheaded by the reserve frontcourt of Ersan Ilyasova and Dan Gadzuric, and led by double digits by the end of the period.

Stat of the game: Marquis Daniels, whose minutes had virtually disappeared at the end of the season, logged 31 minutes in a starting role Wednesday, displaying the importance of the contest. Daniels did finish with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, which might help him build some confidence should he get called upon in the postseason.

Unsung hero: Oliver Lafayette, signed Wednesday after a strong season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League, hit the first three shots of his first pro game, and finished with seven points, four rebounds and two assists over 22 minutes.

What it means: The Celtics had already secured the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and Wednesday's finale meant nothing. Boston finished the 2009-10 season at 50-32 and, on the positive side, is headed to the postseason as healthy as it's been this season.
BOSTON -- A collection of pregame news and notes before the Boston Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night in the regular-season finale at the TD Garden:

The rundown (a quick look at pregame headlines)
* Doc: Departure report is 'old news'
* Big 3 and Perk sitting out; Scal (shoulder) to play
* Meet the new guys: Gaffney and Lafayette arrive

Doc: Departure report is 'old news'



Celtics coach Doc Rivers called a report of his possible departure this offseason "old news" and stressed that his family has not had a single conversation about his future as a head coach in Boston.

Responding to a Boston Herald report that suggested Rivers was leaning towards retirement following the 2009-10 season, Boston's sixth-year coach noted that he goes through the same process each offseason and that this year would be no different.

"It's what I've said for the last three years, that is what I told [the Herald]," said Rivers. "It's old news, it really is. I don't think about it, to be honest. Every summer I do the same thing: I go home, get away from it for a while, and make a decision. It's no different than last summer or the summer before that. I was a little amused at the question, because I thought it was old news.

"No, I haven't thought about it. I don't think about it. If you thought about it after every game, you'd go a different way each time. If you win, you think you can do this forever; when you lose it's, 'Man, I think I'm leaving.' It's human nature. Other than that, as a family, we haven't talked about it. It's what I said [Tuesday], it's a non-issue for me now. Obviously a lot of people outside have made a lot of conclusions on what I'm thinking. I always thought I was the best source."

The Herald report suggested that with three seniors -- two in college, one in high school -- Rivers could be tempted to depart, particularly on the heels of a frustratingly inconsistent season and with a potential rebuilding looming, but Rivers stressed he hasn't even begun the process of determining his future.

"Maybe we won’t [rebuild]," Rivers said when asked about that potential team option. "We haven’t gone down that road, it hasn’t been discussed as an organization. I think there are lot of assumptions being made that aren’t there yet. Time will tell."

Big 3 and Perk sitting out; Scal (shoulder) to play



With the focus back on Wednesday's regular-season finale against the Bucks, Rivers noted he would sit the entire Big Three, along with Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen.

The Big Three is designed to both get his starts rest and avoid injury, while Allen is still battling an illness. Kendrick Perkins is a little more complicated. Boston's center boasts 15 technical fouls, one short of the magic number that triggers a suspension.

But since no one in the league office could tell Rivers and Co. if that suspension would be imposed on the first game of the playoffs or the first game of next season, the team isn't taking any chances.

"Perk's at the number," said Rivers. "We can't take the chance. The league has not told us, it's never happened, which is surprising to us. They don't know what action they would take if he gets his 16th -- whether he misses the first playoff game or misses the first game of next year. We called [Tuesday] and asked the question, but no one knew the answer. That meant Perk's not playing at all."

And what about Rasheed Wallace?

"He's at 14, so we'll play him until he gets a technical, then sit him," joked Rivers.

Meet the new guys: Gaffney and Lafayette arrive

Fresh faces Tony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette, officially signed by the Celtics Wednesday, were in the Boston locker room before Wednesday's game, soaking in the atmosphere with wide eyes.

Gaffney will wear No. 27, while Lafayette took No. 0. Both players joked it's hard to get a number in these parts given all the ones that hang from the rafters. Gaffney wore No. 24 in college, but that's retired for "Mr. Clutch" Sam Jones. Lafayette last wore No. 20 with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but that's obviously taken here by Ray Allen.

Would Miami tank to avoid C's?

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
11:25
AM ET
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhy would the Heat prefer the Hawks? A 3-1 regular-season record.
Boston's playoff fate seemed pretty certain after getting locked into the fourth seed with Tuesday's loss to Chicago. With Miami facing lowly New Jersey to wrap up the regular season Wednesday, it seemed almost certain the Heat would edge Milwaukee for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference setting up Boston vs. Miami in round one.

But the Miami Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman suggests that the Heat should tank Wednesday's game against the Nets with eyes towards setting up a first-round series against the Hawks.

For Celtics fans, that might seem like a head-scratcher considering Atlanta's four-game sweep of the regular-season series against Boston. But Winderman offers two potential incentives:
With a Heat loss, Boston could leave Milwaukee as its first-round opponent should it lose (tank?) to the Bucks.

Common sense says the Heat and Celtics will not play many of their regulars Wednesday.

But falling to No. 6, the Heat would not only position itself to possibly meet Atlanta in the opening round, having won that season series 3-1, but also would not be in the Cavaliers’ bracket in the second round.

By making Milwaukee its first-round opponent, Boston would avoid Dwyane Wade in that first round and instead get a Bucks team lacking sidelined center Andrew Bogut.

Intriguing. If the Celtics were playing more consistent ball, it might be something the Heat would truly have to consider. But our gut tells us Miami finishes up strong and sets up the first-round series against Boston. Regardless, there will be plenty of scoreboard watching across the league Wednesday night.

(h/t: CelticsTown)

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
19.5 1.6 0.9 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.3
AssistsE. Turner 3.4
StealsK. Olynyk 1.2
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8