Pierce: Playing elsewhere did cross my mind

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Pierce: Playing elsewhere did cross my mind

Would Paul Pierce ever play in another uniform? Would he ever even think about it?

He did this past offseason. The thoughts were almost forced upon him, in a way; there was so much uncertainty surrounding the Celtics after their Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Heat.

"It was difficult not only losing, but not understanding what was next," Pierce said. "A lot of that went in my head after we lost. It was like is Kevin Garnett gonna retire? Are we gonna rebuild? Am I gonna be playing somewhere else? A lot of things went through my head."

Pierce said they weren't passing thoughts, either. The questions and doubts lingered, and the Celtics captain wondered if his time in Boston might be over.

"It really did cross my mind," Pierce said. "The way last year went with the trade rumors, the possibility of me being traded the possibility of us rebuilding, it was hard not to think about it, sometimes it wears on you mentally because you can't know what your future is gonna be or what's gonna be your next step.

"I'm in a position to where I really didn't wanna be part of being in a rebuilding situation, especially after playing over the last five years on teams that were capable of winning a championship. At this point of my career, I only have a few years left, you want to maximize those years."

But the Celtics decided to make another run. They kept Garnett. They kept Pierce. They added Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green are back. They have a chance to make some noise in 2012-13, and Pierce can't picture himself anywhere else.

"I was telling somebody the other day I'm pretty much institutionalized in Boston," Pierce said. "If I went somewhere else I couldn't see it. Hopefully I can be here a lot longer than even my playing days. Just to help along with coaching and management, I've really given some thought to that, giving back to what the game has given to me. And I hope I can continue to do that in Boston."

Celtics season comes to an end after 104-92 loss to Hawks

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Celtics season comes to an end after 104-92 loss to Hawks

BOSTON – For so many games, the Boston played without any thought to the scoreboard.

No matter how big the deficit, no matter how deep into the game things got and they had to play from behind, there was never any question about their ability to fight back and compete and on many occasions, emerge victorious.

You saw that same fight and grit from the Celtics in the fourth quarter of Game 6, after having fallen behind by 28 points only to be within 95-83 with 3:16 remaining after a 3-point play by Isaiah Thomas.

Boston came within 10 points (96-86) with 1:48 to play, but quickly gave up a 3-point play at the other end that pretty much put the game away for the Hawks.

Throughout this series, the Atlanta Hawks proved themselves to be a different kind of opponent for Boston, a team that played a similar brand of basketball as the Celtics … only better and more experienced at it.

Those were just some of the factors that played a pivotal role in the Celtics never mustering up enough positive plays in a series that is now a thing of the past after Atlanta’s 104-92 Game 6 victory at the TD Garden.

Atlanta now moves on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  

Meanwhile the Celtics will have several months to ponder the usual “what if …” that teams whose season ends sooner than expected, think about.

What if Avery Bradley were healthy for more than three-plus quarters?

What if Kelly Olynyk’s sore right shoulder injury not flare up again in the series?

What if the Celtics had been pared against Miami or Charlotte instead of Atlanta following their four teams finishing in a tie?

For Boston, it was a night that in many ways symbolized what kind of series this has been for them.

Atlanta had a collective, across-the-board effort to keep the ball out of Isaiah Thomas’ hands as much as possible.

And more games than not, it worked.

He finished with 25 points on 9-for-24 shooting.

It meant other Celtics had to step up and contribute, something the Celtics did very little of throughout the series.

On Thursday, the Celtics got a nice lift from Jonas Jerebko who scored Boston’s first five points and helped Boston jump out to a 9-5 lead. He finished with 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting.

But that would be as good as it got for the Celtics who eventually fell behind by nearly 30 points in what was the most important game of their season.

Every time the Celtics would make a play that got the crowd involved, Atlanta would counter with a basket of their own.

And when it came to the 50/50 hustle plays, Atlanta won that game as well.

As much as the series will be remembered for what the Hawks did defensively against Thomas, it will also be remembered for Boston’s inability to make the most basic basketball play – an open jumper.

But the Celtics made things mildly interesting in the third quarter when they cut Atlanta’s lead to 73-59 following a 3-point play by Marcus Smart.

The Hawks went on to score the final seven points of the third which included a buzzer-beating jumper by Al Horford that gave the Hawks a 21-point lead going into the fourth.

From there, the Hawks did just enough to get the win while sending the Celtics home for the season with a first round exit for the second year in a row. 

Celtics-Hawks Game 6 at the half: C's fall behind, show signs of comeback

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Celtics-Hawks Game 6 at the half: C's fall behind, show signs of comeback

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have 24 minutes to keep their season alive.

If it happens, they’ll have to play much better in the final 24 minutes as they go into the half trailing Atlanta, 41-33.

Boston fell behind 34-21 in the second quarter, but the Celtics showed signs of getting back into the game with a 12-7 spurt to close out the half.

Isaiah Thomas’ call for additional help in this series rang loud and clear among his teammates with Jonas Jerebko leading the way with five of Boston’s first nine points.

But Boston’s 9-5 start was followed by an 8-0 Hawks run that led to a 13-9 Hawks lead as Brad Stevens called a time-out with 3:51 to play in the quarter.

The Hawks’ momentum was slowed down some, but the Celtics still couldn’t muster enough shots to regain the lead.

At the end of the first quarter, the Celtics were down 20-17.

Boston continued to struggle in the third quarter, with Stevens looking for someone, anyone to catch fire offensively.

He tried rookie R.J. Hunter and Terry Rozier.

Kelly Olynyk struggled at both ends of the floor during his first half stint.

And Isaiah Thomas, the focal point of Atlanta’s efforts defensively, was once again bottled up for most of the first half.

He wound up scoring 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Meanwhile the Hawks were looking very much like a team ready to move on to the next round of play, getting contributions from key starters and reserves like Tim Hardaway Jr. who had 7 points in the first half. 

Stevens: Thomas, C's must make right play, not force shots

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Stevens: Thomas, C's must make right play, not force shots

BOSTON - Isaiah Thomas is good to go for Game 6, though it's yet to be determined how much the ankle will affect him.

Either way, he can expect much of the focus to be on him throughout the game, as it has been for the entire series.

In Game 5 specifically, though, the Hawks stopped Thomas in a way they haven't been able to all series. The result? Just seven points for the C's leading scorer. They brought the double-team, and sometimes even the triple-team, making him unable to score.

But though Thomas' main objective is to score, as the starting point guard he's needed to do much more than that.

"You just have to make the right basketball play," Stevens said when asked if Thomas needs to be more aggressive when he's trapped. "He’s going to have the ball a ton for us, he’s going to be off the ball on actions for us, he’s going to have to read when he should screen, he’s going to have to read when he gets the ball how he’s being played, and just make the right basketball play.

"There’s certainly things you can do to alleviate some of that. But I felt we attacked it really well at the start of the game. Certainly part of their scoring runs was some bad offense on our part in the latter parts of the game. I left thinking Isaiah made a lot of the right basketball plays. That’s his charge – he has to do that, and we’ll follow suit."

Following suit with making the right decision - and hitting the shot - is something the C's couldn't do much of in Game 5. If Boston wants its playoff run to continue, it's going to have to be a team effort.

"We just have to make the right read, whether it’s catch and shoot or whether it’s catch and rip and drive," Stevens said. "Somebody else gets in the paint and makes the right read, and that’s part of it. We have good players who can do that, I believe they can and Isaiah does too. But Isaiah can’t force. If they’re going to put two to the ball, that’s when you have to make the right basketball play."