Celtics-Heat Game 2 review: No '5050' calls for C's

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Celtics-Heat Game 2 review: No '5050' calls for C's

MIAMI Paul Pierce came out with a more aggressive demeanor. Ditto for Rajon Rondo.

That still wasn't enough, as the Celtics find themselves in a 2-0 series hole after a 115-111 overtime loss.

The series now shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

For the Celtics, it was a disappointing, tough to swallow loss considering for much of the game, the C's did exactly what they wanted to do in order to position themselves for the victory.

But down the stretch, the Celtics found themselves on the short end of 5050 calls.

Although the whole idea of there being 5050 calls was one that C's coach Doc Rivers wasn't totally ready to buy into completely.

"Can you call it something else besides 5050 calls?" he said. "Can you come up with another percentage for me?"

Concerned with picking up a fine for criticizing officials, Rivers declined to elaborate other than to point out that, "LeBron James took 24 free throws and our team took 29. Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket. It's just tough."

Pierce, who was 5-for-6 from the line, fouled out on a driving attempt by Dwyane Wade in the middle of the lane in which Pierce appeared to have jumped straight up when the contact was made - a play that more often than not results in a non-call.

"I thought it was a good play with me going straight up," Pierce said. "It could go either way. It didn't go my way tonight, so I had to watch the rest of the game."

Pierce looking to attack the lane as well as Rajon Rondo's career-high 44-point game (it included him converting 10 of his team-high 12 free throw attempts) gave the C's a chance at the win. Here's a look back at some keys highlighted prior to Boston's Game 2 loss.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With Boston struggling so much from the perimeter, expect more of the offense to be run through Kevin Garnett at the elbow or on the post. With Garnett likely to be more of a hybrid facilitatorscorer offensively, the Celtics are hoping that will force the Heat defense to loosen up its coverage on him and in turn, will allow him more opportunities to score or it will set up his teammates for easier baskets.

WHAT WE SAW: Although Garnett had 18 points, there was never a point in the game where he asserted his will as a legitimate low-post presence. C's coach Doc Rivers blames himself for that happening. "I've got to do a better job of getting Kevin the ball in the right spots," Rivers said. "I didn't think the entire night we did a good job at that."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade: It's pretty simple here. Ray Allen will get good looks, because the Heat - and everyone with a TV who has witnessed the Celtics of late - knows that Allen isn't just missing shots. He's missing wide open, lightly contested shots - something Allen has seen very little of throughout his career. He's not going to win the head-to-head battle with Wade. The C's know better. But he has to at least make it so that the Heat don't get so comfortable in giving him more space to shoot.

WHAT WE SAW: Wade had a big third quarter which helped position the Heat for the win, but Miami has to be concerned going into Game Three with Allen looking very much like he's starting to get his shooting rhythm back. He had 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting which included a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that forced overtime. "Ray, he's a warrior," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "And we're going to keep believing in him."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has to figure out how he can dominate the game, and figure it out quickly. Throughout the playoffs, Rondo has stretches in which he is the best player on the floor. Not once did he control the action in Game One with that kind of authority. Another repeat of that tonight, and the outcome for Celtics will likely be no different than it was in Game One.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo did more than just dominate his matchup. He delivered one of the greatest playoff games ever by a Boston Celtic player. He finished with a career-high 44 points on 16-for-24 shooting along with 10 assists and eight rebounds. Although Rondo is well aware that he had the kind of playoff performance that won't soon be forgotten, there was no sense of accomplishment on his part for one simple reason. The Celtics lost. "It's irrelevant," he said. "We lost. It's as simple as that."

STAT TO TRACK: Regardless of how you feel about the Miami Heat and whether they get preferential treatment by the officials, one thing is very clear. Their opponents have racked up an unusually high amount of technical fouls throughout the playoffs. There have been a total of 90 technical fouls called during the 2012 playoffs, 17 of them (18.9 percent) of them have been against Heat opponents. Lack of composure? Conspiracy? Regardless of which position you take, it doesn't change the fact the Celtics have to avoid getting into it with officials if they are to even this series up tonight.
WHAT WE SAW: Keeping with the trend in which Heat opponents pick up technical fouls, you can add one more to the list. And it would later prove to be a big one. Kevin Garnett was fouled by James Jones in the fourth quarter. After the whistle blew, Garnett swung an elbow in Jones' direction as the two were tangled up. The officials called the foul on Jones, but whistled Garnett for a technical foul. For those keeping track, Heat opponents have been whistled for 18 of the 91 technical fouls that have been called in the playoffs, or 19.8 percent.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Rockets in Houston. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Earlier this month the Boston Celtics took a season-high 42 three-pointers in a game which raised a few eyebrows. 

And you know what?

No one would be surprised if the Celtics (12-8) surpassed that total tonight when they face the Houston Rockets who have set the pace when it comes to launching 3-point bombs in the NBA this season with 37.0 attempts per game. 

The Celtics aren’t too far behind, averaging 30.8 three-pointers which ranks fifth in the NBA.

But what makes these two teams so unique is that in addition to taking a lot of 3s, they also rank among the NBA’s leaders when it comes to knocking them down. 

The Rockets (13-7) make an NBA-high 14.0 three-pointers per game while the Celtics are fifth in the league with 11.1 made 3s per game. 

And the key to that stat is that both teams shoot a surprisingly high percentage from 3-point range as well. 

Houston’s 37.8 percent from 3-point range is the fifth-best mark in the NBA while the Celtics shoot 36.0 percent on 3's which ranks 10th in the league. 

So what does all this 3-ball shooting mean? 

It means get your popcorn ready for what should be one of the more exciting, high-scoring games on the Boston Celtics’ schedule this season.

Here are some other key stats to keep tabs on during tonight’s game. 

 

FIRST QUARTER SCORING

There is no team in the NBA better at jumping on you from the outset, then Houston. They lead the NBA in first-quarter scoring with 31.2 points per game while shooting 51.9 percent in the quarter which is also tops in the NBA. But there’s a downside to their first quarter success. Houston’s first quarter defense is pretty bad, ranking 27th in the league in first-quarter points allowed (28.5) while allowing teams to shoot a league-worst 52.3 percent from the field in the game’s first 12 minutes. 

 

FOURTH QUARTER SCORING

As impressive as Houston is to start games, the Boston Celtics are just as dominant offensively in the fourth quarter. Boston averages a league-best 29.1 points per game in the fourth compared to the Rockets whose 24.4 points in the fourth ranks 21st in the NBA. Boston’s strong finish to games is aided by a defense that seems to save its best work for the fourth quarter. Opponents are shooting just 40.6 percent against the Celtics in the fourth which ranks as the third-best fourth quarter defense in the NBA.

 

OFFENSIVE REBOUND PERCENTAGE

Boston’s struggles on the boards are well documented which includes - but is certainly not limited to - offensive rebounding. The Rockets will present a major problem to Boston when it comes to trying to avoid Houston getting second and third-shot opportunities. The Rockets rank fifth in the NBA in second-chance points (15.3) per game while the Celtics’ defense allows 15.2 second-chance points which ranks 27th in the league. And Boston’s offensive rebounding percentage for opponents ranks dead-last in the NBA at .265.

 

BALL MOVEMENT

Both teams rank among the league leaders in assists per game with Boston’s 24.4 assists per game average No. 2 in the NBA and Houston’s 24.3 assists ranks fourth. But more telling is how the Celtics rely more heavily on keeping the ball moving, more so than the Rockets. You see this in Boston averaging 329.2 passes per game which ranks third in the NBA while the Rockets’ 273.5 passes per game average is 29th in the league. Still, Houston’s passing game is to be respected especially when you consider the lofty assists numbers they’ve racked up in addition to them getting 59.2 points created via the assist according to nba.com/stats

 

TURNOVERS

These two are at opposite ends of the basketball world when it comes to turnovers. Boston commits 12.3 per game which is the fourth-fewest committed in the NBA while the Rockets are turning the ball over 16.1 times per game and that ranks 27th in the league. And these two remain widely far apart in the fourth quarter which is when the Celtics turn the ball over a league-low 2.2 times per game in the fourth while Houston turns the ball more than twice as much (4.5) which ranks 29th in the league.