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.

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.

Brown: 'An honor' to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

Brown: 'An honor' to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

BOSTON – Although he’s only been with the Boston Celtics a short period of time, rookie forward Jaylen Brown is no stranger to making strong statements on the basketball court.

But for all the highlight-quality dunks and acrobatic lay-ups many of us have been a witness to, his most powerful moment may have come Monday night when he addressed the TD Garden crowd in delivering a speech in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day.

“We can talk all day about how Martin Luther King (Jr.) impacted us,” Brown said after Boston’s 108-98 win over Charlotte. “It still wouldn’t do justice. I just wanted to do my part and express how me and my teammates feel about the great Martin Luther King and everything him and that generation did for us.”

His speech moved many, including head coach Brad Stevens.

“I thought that was great; I thought it was great,” Stevens said. “And he went a little bit over his allotted time, I think, but I wish he would have kept going because I thought he did a terrific job of capturing what I think we all feel, and I thought it was extremely eloquently done.”

The only hiccup Brown felt he had during the speech was losing his train of thought briefly due to the echo he heard when talking into the microphone.

But that didn’t take away from the powerful message Brown delivered that he said he did not practice too hard for.

“It was all off the top of my head,” he said.

However, he said some of the message he delivered came from what he learned in a student activism class at Cal last year which is a reminder to us all just how young Brown is.

But as we saw in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,624, Brown is comfortable being the center of attention for important moments.

“It was an honor to be chosen to commemorate somebody like Martin Luther King, and represent my team and represent the NBA and the Celtics organization,” Brown said. “I’ve been celebrating this day for a long time. I’ve been studying and appreciating Martin Luther King and everything he’s done for a while. When they asked me, I was excited.”