Boston Celtics

Celtics fall flat against Heat in Game 1, 99-90


Celtics fall flat against Heat in Game 1, 99-90

By A.Sherrod Blakely

MIAMI Miami Heat forward LeBron James probably said it best late last week.

As Rajon Rondo goes, so go the Boston Celtics.

So when he went to the bench early in the second quarter, so went just about any chance the C's had of digging themselves out of an early deficit against the Heat.

What started off as a small hole soon became a grave for the Celtics, whose chances of stealing home court away from Miami died a quick and early death with a 99-90 Game 1 loss.

"Give them credit," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I thought they were prepared, they were ready, they played with unbelievable intensity. And I didn't think we handled that very well."

That wasn't the only problem for the Celtics.

Paul Pierce, who scored 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting, was ejected with seven minutes to play after being whistled for a double technical foul along with Dwyane Wade.

It was Pierce's second technical foul - he was whistled for a double technical foul earlier in the game, along with Miami's James Jones - which is an automatic ejection.

Pierce was fouled on both plays in which he later received a technical foul, fouls that Rivers believes should have been called flagrant fouls.

But he added, "I don't think we should react to either one. I thought as a whole we were the retaliating team tonight. We were never the first-hit team."

Miami has repeatedly said that they need to bring a certain brand of physical play to this series, the kind of physical play that has been a Celtics trademark for years.

For the most part, they did just that.

And the Celtics didn't handle it very well, evident by the C's being whistled for three individual technical fouls and a flagrant against Jermaine O'Neal.

But the problems for Boston began well before Pierce getting ejected.

After picking up two fouls in the first quarter, Rondo picked up a third less than a minute into the second quarter.

Rondo played just over 32 minutes, and spent the bulk of the second quarter on the bench as the Heat continued to pull away.

The foul trouble wasn't an issue in the second half.

But by then, it was too late.

The C's were in too deep a ditch to come out of, even with Rondo on the floor.

"I just tried to play aggressive in the second half," said Rondo, who had eight points and seven assists while turning the ball over five times.

With Rondo a non-factor for most of the game, Miami relied heavily on Wade to carry the Heat.

He finished with a game-high 38 points, which included 23 in the first half that he capped off with a running bank shot over Boston's Delonte West.

"Dwyane is a special player; he really is," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "I've said this so many times, he just figures it out. He is very diligent."

And deadly when he's on top of his game, which was indeed the case on Sunday.

As impressive as Wade was, he had some company - and it wasn't the usual cast of characters, either.

Jones, a backup, had a career playoff-high 25 points off the bench, a back-breaking performance that the C's simply could not recover from.

"I tried to focus this week because I knew that Boston was going to try and take our big three away and somebody was going to have to step up," Jones said.

Boston fell behind by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, but went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit back to single digits.

They had ample opportunities to inch even closer, but repeatedly failed to make shots that on most nights, were a given to be made.

And while the Celtics are certainly disappointed with the loss, there is still a sense within the locker room that this series is far from over.

"This is a loss. That's it," Rivers said. "We will learn and watch film. It's only one game, but I don't know if it's a winnable game or not. We didn't play very well and we had our chances. I just thought they outplayed us tonight."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Celebrating Red Auerbach's 100th Birthday


CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Celebrating Red Auerbach's 100th Birthday

In this week's special episode of "Celtics Talk," we celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of the legendary Arnold "Red" Auerbach. Mike Gorman sits down with Red in his final interview with us, plus we hear from Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and others on the man that engineered and built the most successful franchise in NBA history.

Brown ready to embrace role with new-look Celtics

Brown ready to embrace role with new-look Celtics

BOSTON – Like most of us, Jaylen Brown watched intently as the Boston Celtics overhauled their roster in a way in which no one on the payroll could untouchable.

Armed with the number one overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the Boston Celtics traded down two spots to pick up a wing player (Jayson Tatum) who plays the same position as Brown.

Later on, the Celtics traded away Avery Bradley to Detroit.

Soon after, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas were Cleveland-bound in a deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston.

Things have changed, quickly.

MORE: Celtics storylines: Who fills out the starting lineup?

But being a high-profile high school player who spent one year in college before entering the NBA, Brown is well-versed on how to adapt quickly to new surroundings.

Brown might find himself getting used to yet another new role as an NBA starter this season.

When training camp opens next week for the Celtics, there will be at least two positions in the starting five up for grabs courtesy of Bradley and Crowder being in Detroit and Cleveland, respectively.

Thomas’ starting job will be handled by Irving who will be joined in the starting lineup by Al Horford and another new face to the Celtics roster, Gordon Hayward who signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with Boston this summer after having spent his first seven NBA seasons in Utah.

Brown said he hadn’t put too much thought into all the changes that Boston was making this offseason.

“I knew a lot of stuff was going on and it was a lot of changes but it was above my pay grade,” Brown said. “Right now my job is to come in and play basketball and leave the politics up to the front office and you guys. It had nothing to do with me. I just try to come out and play hard, and try and be the best person and basketball player. . .  I can be. I try not to think too much of it.”

But it’s hard to ignore the possibility that he could be in the starting lineup on opening night, an opportunity he will have to earn with his play in training camp.

“(Head coach Brad Stevens) is going to do whatever he feels is best for the team and I support that,” Brown said. “Whatever it is that he decides, is what he decides. But I’m here, I’m available and I’m ready to work. It’s going to be a good year.”

The possibility that Brown could be in the regular starting lineup in his second season isn’t all that unusual for a player taken with the third overall pick in the draft.

But unlike most rookies, Brown wasn’t selected by a team where playing time was a given.

He joined an experienced squad that had its sights on a deep playoff run, something that runs counter-intuitive to what most high draft picks experience their first year.

But the Celtics advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before falling to Cleveland in five games.

And as Boston went deeper into its season, Brown steadily worked his way into regular minutes which has helped put him here, potentially on the cusp of being a regular starter.

“My mindset is the same in a lot of ways, and is different in a lot of ways,” Brown said. “It’s the same in the sense where I’m just working, trying to get better each and every day just like last year; just constantly push myself for greatness. Where it’s different now, my mindset is I know a little bit more, I have my feet under me. A little bit more is expected of me.”

Throughout the summer, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been pleased with the growth he has seen in Brown’s game.

But for him to help the Celtics this season, Stevens believes it’ll have to come on the defensive end of the floor.

“Jaylen has to become a lockdown defender for us," Stevens said on the Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix, earlier this summer. "That's where, as you go into an offseason and you are an individual player, there's a ton of things that you want to get better at, and there's a ton of things you want to add to your game. But ultimately, when you get back to your team, it's what do you do that's different to make your team unique to give yourself the best chance of adding value to winning. We need him to become that."