Smith: 'We have to duplicate what Celtics do'

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Smith: 'We have to duplicate what Celtics do'

BOSTON As Josh Smith sat on the Atlanta Hawks bench, he could see how hard Ray Allen was running to get free for a shot. He could see how alert all the Celtics big men were in setting picks and screens to free Paul Pierce, or how his old prep school running mate, Rajon Rondo, was so deliberate in his dissecting of the Hawks defense. And defensively, the way the Celtics closed out on shooters, prevented others from getting the ball in their sweet spots it left quite an impression on Smith, for sure.

Despite the fact that the C's were whipping his Hawks so soundly, there was still a level of appreciation on Smith's part for how the Celtics went about dismantling the Hawks, 101-79, on Sunday. Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 with a chance to close out the series in Atlanta on Tuesday.

It was in many ways a clinic on what you need to do in order to win in the playoffs.

And Smith acknowledged the lessons learned Sunday night, he hopes to bring them back to Atlanta for Game 5.

"We have to duplicate what they do," Smith said.

Atlanta's efforts will likely improve with Al Horford now having a game under his belt.

After missing all but 11 games during the regular season, Horford made an unexpected postseason debut in Game 4 on Sunday. He came off the bench and finished with 12 points and five rebounds, seemingly getting stronger as the game went on.

They'll need him to have an even better game on Tuesday.

Ditto for Smith whose left knee injury has him looking like a shell of the player who dominated play in Games 1 and 2, before the knee injury kept him out of Game 3.

"It feels OK," said Smith who still managed to score 15 points on Sunday in addition to grabbing 13 rebounds. "It'll probably feel a little sore tomorrow. That's what happens when you come back from an injury."

Yes he's still hurting and chances are, he'll be hurting when the Hawks face the Celtics on Tuesday.

But he says the injury won't keep him from playing in what may very well be the Hawks' last game of the season.

"It's a must-win game," he said. "I know we're fighting odds now. But it shouldn't be no quit in this team. We have to go out and establish ourselves early and we have to get a win to force a sixth game."

Celtics guard Keyon Dooling expects Game 5 will be the C's toughest this series.

"It's a great opportunity," Dooling said of closing out the series. "I just feel like it won't be an easy task. We gotta come in with the right frame of mind. We have to be focused and we have to go down there and compete. They will be a desperate team. They don't want to go out like this. I think they'll come out clawing and scratching. We have to be prepared to match their energy."

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.”