Celtics not straying from what they know on defense

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Celtics not straying from what they know on defense

ATLANTA - The Atlanta Hawks trotted out a new starting lineup in Game 5, with Marvin Williams and Al Horford.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics' defense?

Same as it ever was.

"We are who we are (defensively)," said C"s coach Doc Rivers before the game. "We're not ashamed of that. When we do it right, we're really good."

They certainly have been in this series, limiting Atlanta to less than 41 percent shooting in every game.

But with Joe Johnson sliding over to the shooting guard position and having a huge advantage size-wise over 6-2 Avery Bradley, the C's had to tweak their defense slightly.

"That's not a matchup we love," Rivers said. "But it's what we have."

Throughout this season, making due with what they have has been the Celtics' way of doing things defensively.

"That's who we are; that's our identity," C's guard Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "We're a defensive-minded team."

And it's not just the Hawks who recognize how strong the Celtics are defensively.

"They're especially strong with their half court defense, which is what the playoffs are all about," said an NBA scout. "And as we all know, the game slows down, a lot, in the playoffs. When you play great half court defense, it gives you a chance to win every night regardless of whether your best player or best players have it going offensively. That's why the Celtics are such a good playoff team."

Boston put that strong defensive play to work early in Game 5, limiting Atlanta to just 15 points on 6-for-21 shooting (28.6 percent) in the first quarter.

And while the C's didn't exactly shoot the lights out - they connected on 42.9 percent of their shots - Boston still had a 21-15 lead at the end of the quarter. The Hawks were better in the second quarter, connecting on 9 of its 21 shots from the field. But it still wasn't enough to take the lead, with the half ending in a 40-all tie.

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

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Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”