Celtics-Heat Game 5 review: Pierce, Allen come through late

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Celtics-Heat Game 5 review: Pierce, Allen come through late

MIAMI Ray Allen didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Neither did Paul Pierce.

But with the game anyone's for the taking in the fourth, both players came up with big plays in helping the Celtics escape with a 94-90 Game 5 win that moves them one victory away from a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Both players have been hobbled at times in this series with injuries.

In Allen's case, the bone spurs in his right ankle gave him some problems in the third quarter, which led to him returning to the locker room for treatments.

"It's tight; it's sore," Allen said of his ankle. "Last game, it felt worst after the game. Now, I think that helped a lot, coming back here."

Although Allen missed seven of his nine shots from the field, he did come through with a pair of clutch free throws with 13.8 seconds to play that increased the Celtics lead to 92-88.

Normally Allen making free throws isn't that big a deal, but since returning to the C's lineup a few weeks ago, the veteran sharpshooter hasn't been nearly as stellar as he's accustomed to being, from the line.

"Where I am now, is where I've always been," said Allen who made all eight of his free throw attempts.

Allen said he was watching video of his free throw shooting and noticed he wasn't giving the right amount of push and lift on his shots, something he has since corrected.

"It was just a matter of getting in a game and knocking them down," he said.

Knocking down big shots has been one of Paul Pierce's strength, and it was certainly on display Tuesday night.

Pierce was just 5-for-19 from the field, but those numbers will soon be forgotten.

The same can not be said for Pierce's 3-pointer in James' face, with less than a minute to play.

It gave the Celtics a four-point lead that seemingly put the Heat on their heels for the remaining ticks on the clock.

"That's what players like Paul do," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "It really is. He's a big shot-maker. He always has been."

Their ability to come up with clutch plays down the stretch was indeed a key in Boston's win. Let's recap a few key discussed earlier, and how they actually played out in Boston's Game 5 win that puts them just one victory away from a return trip to the NBA Finals.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: All eyes will of course be on the expected return of Chris Bosh, who has missed the last nine games with an abdominal strain injury. If he looks anything like most players upon their first return after missing a few games, chances are high that he'll be a bit too hyped and too amped up initially, but will gradually calm down and play his game. The Celtics would be wise to put him in as many situations early on in which he has to move, just to find out where he's at physically.

WHAT WE SAW: As expected, Bosh returned to the lineup for the Heat and looked pretty good in limited minutes off the bench. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds while playing just over 17 minutes. It was his first game since suffering an abdominal strain injury that kept him out for nine games. "I definitely have more to give," Bosh said. "And I'll be there. When the time comes again, I'll definitely be ready to play more than I played (in Game 5)."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs LeBron James: It's rare that you'll find the leading scorers for two teams foul out in the same game, but it speaks to some degree to how tough a battle this series has been at the small forward position. The C's will probably look at ways to get Pierce off James defensively, which should result in more playing time for Mickael Pietrus and Marquis Daniels. As for James, look for his always-aggressive style of basketball to be rewarded with trips to the free throw line - a lot of them - tonight instead of fouls.
WHAT WE SAW: Pierce spent a good deal of Game 5 on James. And once again, Pierce would finish the night with significantly more fouls (five to one) than James. But the free throw discrepancy wasn't too outlandish (Pierce had five free throw attempts compared to eight for James). Although James did finish with more points (30) and shot the ball better (11-for-25), Pierce had the better night when you consider his 3-pointer with less than a minute to play, gave the C's a 92-88 lead and with it, control of the game and now, the series as a whole.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The pressure to perform will once again be on Rajon Rondo, who called out the Heat for "whining and crying" about calls at halftime of Boston's Game 4 win. Miami will look to be as aggressive as ever in their defense of him, which means we're likely to see the most physical play on Rondo in this series, tonight.

WHAT WE SAW: Rajon Rondo was another Celtic who had a less-than-impressive night shooting the ball (he was 3-for-15). But like most of his teammates, Rondo was at his best in the fourth quarter. "I made some mistakes I usually don't make," Rondo said. "I missed a lot of shots I usually make. But that's irrelevant. We stuck with it and my teammates believed in me."

STAT TO TRACK: Whether it's unfavorable calls or a lack of aggressiveness, the Celtics have to do a better job of closing the free throw gap that existed in Games 1 and 2 in Miami. In those two games, the Heat were plus-20 on free throw attempts. In the two games in Boston, the C's were plus-2 in free throw attempts.

WHAT WE SAW: Both teams put forth great effort, but this was a game that for the most part was one in which the officials were slow to blow their whistles. After the first four games, this was the first in which the officiating was not a major issue or talking point afterward. As far as free throw shooting goes, Boston went to the line 27 times compared to 25 for the Heat. But you have to keep in mind that Miami was fouling intentionally near the end of the game which padded the C's free throw total.

Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp

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Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp

WALTHAM, Mass. – Gerald Green’s hip flexor injury isn’t anything he or the Celtics are overly concerned about.

They know Green as well as any player on this roster, so him missing a couple days will have no effect on his status in their eyes.

But in shutting him down for a couple days, his absence affords a number of players an opportunity to stand up in what is an absolutely pivotal, potentially career-altering season.

James Young is in his third training camp with the Celtics and no one has a real feel for where he fits into the pantheon of NBA players.

He hasn’t played enough to call him a bust, but hasn’t done enough to feel as though he has a bright future in this league either.

And then there’s R.J. Hunter, who came into the NBA with the reputation of being a spot-on shooter.

As a rookie last season, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard struggled knocking down shots when he got playing which for most of the season, was limited.

So, what does that have to do with Green’s injury?

His absence means those two players will get more reps on the floor, providing each with potentially more chances to impress the coaching staff.

It means Young will get a few more shots at showing the added strength, weight and improved skills will enhance his chances to not just make the 15-man roster but also compete for potential minutes.

As for Hunter, he has to make shots.

It’s that simple.

While he showed potential as a rookie to do a number of things on the floor, the easiest way for him to solidify a spot on the roster is to do what he does best which is make baskets.

At the end of the day, one of these guys will not be in a Celtics uniform this season. Between now and then, every opportunity they get to impress the coaches has to be taken advantage of which is exactly what they each will get courtesy of Green’s short-term injury.

 

 

Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation

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Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation

WALTHAM, Mass. – Summer league was in full bloom and Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier was killin’ it.
 
Scoring.
 
Dropping dimes.
 
Swooping in for rebounds.
 
Young fella was having the kind of summer that breeds confidence for him as well as the franchise that shocked many in selecting him as high as they did in 2015.  
 
But as well as he played, he knew getting on the floor wasn’t going to be easy because he would have to cut into the minutes of already-established players.
 
And then he got the news that Evan Turner was leaving for Portland after agreeing to a four-year, $70 million contract.
 
Turner’s departure meant Rozier’s chances of playing regular minutes had indeed arrived.

“Nobody wants to lose a guy like ET; great looker room guy, great down the stretch,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “But that gave me even more of an opportunity to play and step up. It gave me a better feeling about this year, knowing I could get minutes.”

On Monday during media day, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked about the void on the Celtic’s roster with Turner now playing for the Blazers.
 
“I miss Evan Turner already; loved having him around,” Ainge said. He’s not going to be easy to replace and neither will Jared Sullinger (he signed a one-year deal with Toronto). But we do have some exciting young players. Jaylen (Brown) and Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier … very exciting players. I don’t know who will get all of Evan’s minutes, but they will be shared and we can fill that void.”

But Turner’s 28.0 minutes per game will likely serve as a portion of the minutes Rozier will carve out for his own this season.
 
“I know he’s going to try and take some of my minutes,” said Celtics all-star guard Isaiah Thomas earlier this summer. “But that’s what it’s about; competing.”
 
Rozier’s competitive nature has stood out during his short time in Boston, with the 22-year-old finding a way to balance that with not being too pushy or too hungry to play.
 
“He’s an All-Star,” Rozier said of Thomas. “I look at it like this. To go up against someone like (Thomas) every day is a blessing.”
 
But Rozier soon adds, “I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too. Getting his minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
 
And as he gradually establishes a role for himself on this team, maybe then people will warm up to a player that so many had doubts about when the Celtics selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
 
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was; that’s fine. They’ll find out about me soon enough.”