Celtics continue to make it hard on themselves

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Celtics continue to make it hard on themselves

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics haven't made anything easy for themselves this season.

Why would they start in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals?

After winning a critical Game 5 on the road in Miami, the Celtics were positioned to close out the series and send the Heat back to South Beach with the Oklahoma City Thunder already waiting in the wings in the NBA Finals.

Instead, they surrendered their home court advantage early on, leading by just two points the entire game. LeBron James single-handedly forced a deciding Game 7 with 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists in the Heats 98-79 victory.

The Celtics have been in this situation before. They went to seven games in the previous round against the Philadelphia 76ers and have played numerous seven-game series in the New Big Three Era.

But this time they are on the road, away from the cheers of their home crowd that lasted until the final buzzer on Thursday night, and forced to fend off injuries, fatigue, and the looming shadow of James.

This team has been about adversity all year long, said Paul Pierce. This isnt going to be anything new. Its been tough for us all year long to get to the point where we would be at, and why wouldnt it be tough now? Winning is hard. Trying to get to the Finals is hard, and this is as hard as it gets. And I think we are prepared for it.

The Cs will make adjustments and try to right their wrongs from Game 6. They already know how to beat the Heat -- they did it in three straight games -- and now it is a matter of executing the game plan.

It goes beyond stopping James. Paul Pierce talked about recovering during the game. Rajon Rondo discussed taking care of the ball and getting into his sets. Keyon Dooling talked about playing team defense.

For the Celtics, the key is putting all of the pieces together on Saturday night.

Nothing has been easy up until this point, said Kevin Garnett. Cant expect it now. It is what it is. Were going to take these cards and play them. Lot of confident guys in here. Lot of guys whove been through Game 7s. Lot of experienced guys. Were going to lean on that and were going to fight. A bunch of fighters in this locker room.

As the Cs look ahead to Game 7, they see it as just another obstacle they will have to overcome. It will be the biggest challenge they have faced all season, but one they feel they have been battle tested to survive.

Honestly, that was a great opportunity, but we have another opportunity, said Doc Rivers. We get to play another game, Game 7. I would say most of the people in this room would have said, Wow, theyre going to get to Game 7. Well take it. Thats the way we have to view it. We won a game at theirs, they won here. Now we get to play for all the marbles. This team has not done it the easy way this year. Maybe this is justified for us -- go in there and do it.

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!