Celtics finding success going through Garnett, Bass

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Celtics finding success going through Garnett, Bass

BOSTON -- Even with his nagging injury, the Philadelphia 76ers have not backed off of Ray Allen during the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

He has faced double teams and intense pressure when the ball is in his hands in spite of the fact that he is already hampered by his ankle. The 76ers have done the same to Paul Pierce, who is also battling a knee injury.

As a result of defensive efforts and health challenges, Allen is averaging just 8.4 points per game while shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from long range. Pierce scored just seven points in Game 2 of the series, averaging 17.0 points (38.6 FG, 36.8 3PG) overall.

With Allen and Pierce limited offensively, the Celtics have turned their bigs in what Allen dubbed a Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett series.

Garnett posted double-doubles in the first three games of the series and is averaging 20.0 points and 10.6 rebounds. In the Celtics Game 5 victory on Monday, Bass scored a postseason career-high 27 points, including 22 in the second half.

They just are doing everything they can to me and Paul to keep us from having any impact on the offensive end, Allen said after Game 5. Typical defensive stunts they typically make, theyre not making it so what were trying to do -- me more so than anybody, trying to put me in good positions where guys can utilize their lack of help coming off my man.

Anywhere Im on the floor, theres always a gap, so were trying to utilize that. With Paul, theyre double-teaming, both of us theyre double-teaming, and pick-and-rolls. Thats where Kevins wide open, Brandons wide open, and (Rajon) Rondo can get in those gaps. We cant hold on to the ball. We have to make those quick passes and we allow the next guy to be a playmaker.

As the Celtics look to wrap up the series in Game 6 on Wednesday in Philadelphia, the veteran squad understands it doesnt matter who scores as long as they get the win. Their offense starts with their defense, a foundation the entire squad is committed to.

We dont worry about the offensive end- we create it with the defense, said Allen. Here in this particular situation, were not really worried about whos scoring, whos doing whatever on the floor. Its just, lets win the game. We know our plays, we know the sequence of plays we need to run.

With that, right now this is a Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett series. Rondo understands it. Me and Paul understand it. Were making whatever plays we need to make to get those guys shots and they end up being the playmakers. Theyve done a great job of it.

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

BOSTON – There were a bunch of numbers from Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday that stood out. 

Among the eye-grabbing stats was the fact that the Celtics had taken 42 3s (with 15 makes), an unusually high number of attempts that we may see matched or even surpassed tonight against the Sacramento Kings. 

Don’t count head coach Brad Stevens among those surprised to see the Celtics attempt a lot of three-pointers. 

Last season the Celtics took 26.1 three-pointers per game which ranked 11th in the NBA. 

This season they’re up to 31.2 three-pointers attempted and 11.3 made which both rank fifth in the NBA. 

You can count Kelly Olynyk among the Celtics pleased with the team's increased emphasis on shooting 3s. 

The 7-foot led the NBA in shooting percentage (.405) on 3s taken last season.

"We play a lot of spread offense with four shooters, four perimeter guys," Olynyk, who is shooting 38.1 percent on 3s this season, told CSNNE.com. "We're trying to make teams shrink their defense and spray out and hopefully make shots. You're making extra passes, giving up good ones for great ones. And we have some pretty good shooters on our team. That's the way we're trying to play. It's just a matter of us making shots."

And the Celtics face a Kings team ranks among the NBA’s worst at limiting 3-point attempts with Sacramento opponents averaging 28.4 three-pointers taken per game which ranks 25th in the league. 

One of Stevens’ main points about three-pointers is while it’s an important shot for them, they need to be the right shot, the right basketball play at the right time. 

And when asked about the 42 attempts against the Pistons, he was quick to acknowledge those were for the most part the right shots to be taken. 

“They are,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day we want lay-ups. And if we don’t get layups, we want the floor to be shrunk. If the defense shrinks in, you’re able to touch the paint and kick out. Two of our last three games, maybe three of the last four, two-thirds of our possessions we touched the paint or shrunk the defense with a roll. That’s our objective. We’re not a team that gets to the foul line a lot. We’re not a team that rebounds at a high rate. And we haven’t scored in transition. To be able to be sitting where we are offensively, a big reason is because we space the floor.”

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”