Celtics continue to make it hard on themselves


Celtics continue to make it hard on themselves

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics haven't made anything easy for themselves this season.

Why would they start in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals?

After winning a critical Game 5 on the road in Miami, the Celtics were positioned to close out the series and send the Heat back to South Beach with the Oklahoma City Thunder already waiting in the wings in the NBA Finals.

Instead, they surrendered their home court advantage early on, leading by just two points the entire game. LeBron James single-handedly forced a deciding Game 7 with 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists in the Heats 98-79 victory.

The Celtics have been in this situation before. They went to seven games in the previous round against the Philadelphia 76ers and have played numerous seven-game series in the New Big Three Era.

But this time they are on the road, away from the cheers of their home crowd that lasted until the final buzzer on Thursday night, and forced to fend off injuries, fatigue, and the looming shadow of James.

This team has been about adversity all year long, said Paul Pierce. This isnt going to be anything new. Its been tough for us all year long to get to the point where we would be at, and why wouldnt it be tough now? Winning is hard. Trying to get to the Finals is hard, and this is as hard as it gets. And I think we are prepared for it.

The Cs will make adjustments and try to right their wrongs from Game 6. They already know how to beat the Heat -- they did it in three straight games -- and now it is a matter of executing the game plan.

It goes beyond stopping James. Paul Pierce talked about recovering during the game. Rajon Rondo discussed taking care of the ball and getting into his sets. Keyon Dooling talked about playing team defense.

For the Celtics, the key is putting all of the pieces together on Saturday night.

Nothing has been easy up until this point, said Kevin Garnett. Cant expect it now. It is what it is. Were going to take these cards and play them. Lot of confident guys in here. Lot of guys whove been through Game 7s. Lot of experienced guys. Were going to lean on that and were going to fight. A bunch of fighters in this locker room.

As the Cs look ahead to Game 7, they see it as just another obstacle they will have to overcome. It will be the biggest challenge they have faced all season, but one they feel they have been battle tested to survive.

Honestly, that was a great opportunity, but we have another opportunity, said Doc Rivers. We get to play another game, Game 7. I would say most of the people in this room would have said, Wow, theyre going to get to Game 7. Well take it. Thats the way we have to view it. We won a game at theirs, they won here. Now we get to play for all the marbles. This team has not done it the easy way this year. Maybe this is justified for us -- go in there and do it.

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

WALTHAM -- You won’t find the Boston Celtics blaming anyone but themselves for Saturday’s 127-123 overtime loss to Portland. 
But they certainly didn’t get any breaks down the stretch from the referees, who made a huge officiating mistake in the final seconds of regulation. 


Following a Celtics miss in the game’s closing seconds, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wound up with the ball but was stripped almost immediately by Marcus Smart, who put the steal back in for a lay-up that would have given Boston a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds to play. 
The ruling on the floor at the time was a foul against Smart. But officials later determined as part of their report on the final two minutes of the game, that the foul against Smart was an incorrect call.
“It just pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Crowder said. “It just pisses you off. I don’t like it.”
Crowder, like a number of players I have spoken to about this particular subject, is not a fan of the league releasing the information. 
And his reasoning, like his NBA brethren, is simple. 
There’s no recourse relative to that particular game if the officials in fact got a call wrong. 
So for their purposes, the transparency that the league is seeking, while just, doesn’t do them a damn bit of good when it comes to what matters most to them. Which is wins and losses. 
“It’s over now. It’s too late to confirm it now,” said Smart who told media following the loss that the steal was clean. “The game is over with. It is what it is; on to the next game now.”
Smart added that having the league confirm the call was wrong is frustrating. 
“They come back and tell you they miss the call, but it’s over now,” Smart said. “We’re on to the next game. It’s like they shouldn’t even said it. But I understand it; they’re trying to take responsibility and show they made a bad call. We appreciate it but at that time as a player it’s frustrating. That possibly could have won us the game.”
But as Smart, coach Brad Stevens and other players asked about it mentioned, Boston made so many mistakes against the Blazers and played so uncharacteristically for long stretches that it would be unfair and just not right to pin the game’s outcome on one bad call late in the game. 
“It happens,” said Stevens who added that he’s never read a two-minute report other than what he has seen published by the media. “There were plenty of things we could have done better.”
He’s right.
That blown call didn’t cost the Boston Celtics the game. 
Their play did. 
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times that led to 34 points, both season highs. 
They couldn’t contain C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, two of the league’s most explosive guards who combined for 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting.
Boston allowed Myers Leonard to score a season-high 17 points. 
Certainly the bad call against Smart was a factor. 
But it would not have been an issue if the Celtics had done a better job of controlling the things they could have controlled, like defending shooters better, making smarter decisions when it came to passing the ball and maybe most significant, play with a higher, more consistent level of aggression around the rim. 

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.