Pierce, Celtics look to handle little things

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Pierce, Celtics look to handle little things

WALTHAM -- After their fourth-quarter collapse during their Game 4 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics are not looking to overhaul their approach in preparation for Game 5 on Monday in Boston.

They have already proved their game plan can work -- when executed correctly. The key to the big picture is focusing on the little things the entire game.

We've just got to be a little more consistent through four quarters, Paul Pierce said before practice on Sunday. Every game is not going to play out the same way. We can't just say, 'We've got to play better in the fourth.' We've just got to be more consistent in what we do for four quarters.

The Celtics had a 46-31 halftime lead on Friday. By the end of the third quarter, the Sixers had cut the gap to 63-59. Instead of closing out the final 12 minutes and taking a critical Game 4 on the road, the Celtics were outscored 33-20 in the fourth and lost, 92-83.

The Celtics were outscored 12-5 on second chance points and 27-13 on fast break points. The 76ers had also outrebounded them, 52-38, including 17-5 on the offensive glass. (Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young each matched the Celtics team total with five offensive rebounds apiece off the 76ers bench.)

I think it's mental, said Pierce. Like I said, doing the little things. Not turning the ball over, rebounding the ball. We didn't do a good job at rebounding. They got too many second opportunities. Getting to the loose balls. We've got to win the 5050 battle. I think that's going to be a key in this series. They really beat us to a lot of those balls in the second half of Game 4.

"It's going to be the little things that really add up to the big things. Setting the right screens, getting the man open. Those little things add up to a win if we can do that consistently.

At Sundays practice, the mentality was looking back on what went wrong in Game 4, and then looking ahead of fix it in Game 5.

The milk is spilled, said Pierce. You've got to move on, clean it up, move on to the next game. You can't let it frustrate you. You can't dwell on the past. It is what it is. Series is 2-2. Obviously we've got to go back to Philly, but we've got to take care of business at home.

Ainge: Groin injury will 'probably' keep Thomas from playing Friday

Ainge: Groin injury will 'probably' keep Thomas from playing Friday

There’s still no concrete answer on how long Isaiah Thomas’ right groin injury will keep him sidelined, but the 5-foot-9 guard probably will not play against Toronto on Friday.
 
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, addressed Thomas’ availability on 98.5 the Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich show Thursday morning.
 
“It’s day to day,” said Ainge, who added that Thomas had an injection into his thigh muscle. “He is a warrior; he loves to play. He’ll be back faster than most players would be back after an injury. At the same time, we have to be really careful with Isaiah over the long haul and make sure he doesn’t come back and injure it.”
 
Thomas did not play in Boston’s 117-87 win at Orlando on Wednesday night, his first missed game since the 2014-15 season.
 
He is ranked among the NBA’s top-10 scorers with a career-high 26.0 points-per-game average, in addition to leading the Celtics in assists (6.2) per game.
 
Thomas has been effective while playing through an assortment of injuries during his time with Boston. But a groin injury isn't something that can just be played through,  which is why the Celtics are wisely shutting him down now.
 
“We’ll try and get him as much rest as we can and get him back on the court when he’s ready,” Ainge said.