Nuggets adjustments too much for Celtics

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Nuggets adjustments too much for Celtics

DENVER Somewhere in the first chapter of the NBA manual on playercoach cliches, you'll find some reference to what happens on the floor being "a game of adjustments."

Well the Celtics can attest to that following Tuesday's 97-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Denver was still smarting after last week's 118-114 triple overtime loss in Boston, a game that Nuggets head coach George Karl makes no secret about feeling as though his team should have won it.

"I think our guys know we should have won that game in Boston," Karl said prior to the game.

As much as emotions such as revenge and redemption might come into play, the bigger contributor to the Celtics loss was some of the subtle and not-so-subtle adjustments made by Denver in comparison to last week's game.

Nobody experienced this more than Paul Pierce who had just 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting from the field. He also had six rebounds and six assists after fouling out after picking up - yup, you know it - his sixth personal foul.

Following the loss, Pierce acknowledged the Nuggets were doing some things differently in trying to limit his impact.

"In the pick-and-rolls, they trapped a little bit more," Pierce said. "They switched out, loaded up on defense a little more. Driving lanes definitely weren't there. But I have to make the extra pass and find guys. There's other ways I can beat teams other than my scoring. I have to do a better job at that."

Those adjustments put a greater amount of pressure on those around them to step up; specifically Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley who had 15 and 17 points, respectively, against Denver.

"We were just playing off each other," Lee said. "We were able to get stops and get out and run. We were executing on the offensive end. When you got KG and you got Paul, they're going to draw a lot of attention. They draw doubles, so me and Avery are open."

There were other adjustments that were even more subtle, like Nuggets head coach George Karl constantly telling his team to pick up the pace, well aware of how short-handed the Celtics are because of injuries.

"George knows what he's doing. He's been around a long time," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "There's a reason he didn't call a time-out. He could see us. The one time I was trying to get Kevin (Garnett) off the floor, and George, you could see him ... he looked like Roy Williams today, just waving, let's go. You could see us starting to go downhill."

Rivers added, "Pace in this place is rough."

So is the dealing with the altitude in the Mile High city that often leads to players becoming fatigued sooner than usual.

"It's hard," Rivers said. "I always thought as a player, it's more the first half. Honestly today it was the second half. It got to us. You could clearly see it. We had to rest Kevin several times when we probably didn't want to, but we had no choice in the matter."

Rivers added, "they're so deep. They just keep bringing in guys. They play at that pace and I thought it got to us tonight."

Boston faces the Los Angeles Lakers only 24 hours later, and like Denver they too will look to make some adjustments with the goal being to exact revenge on the C's after Boston handed them a 112-105 loss in a game that was not as close as the final score might lead one to believe.

That loss, the fact that it's Boston-Los Angeles and it's their first game after the All-Star break is enough subplots to work through.

Throw in the fact that it'll be an even more emotionally-charged game due to the recent passing of team owner Dr. Jerry Buss, and the C's will indeed have their hands full.

"It's a lot of stuff to handle," Rivers said. "And we're going to be right in the middle of the firestorm. That's the league. You know how that works."

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”