Boston Celtics

Celtics-Hawks Game 6 Review: C's help hobbled Pierce

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Celtics-Hawks Game 6 Review: C's help hobbled Pierce

BOSTON Paul Pierce was not even close to being the Paul Pierce that the Boston Celtics know and love.

But the Captain - all the C's for that matter - did what they had to do to get the win, 83-80.

And with it, the Celtics move on to the second round of the playoffs where they will face seventh-seed Philadelphia. Games 1 and 2 will be in Boston on Saturday and Monday, respectively.

Pierce still finished with a respectable 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds, but it was clear that the sprained MCL injury in his left knee was bothering him enough to at the very least, throw off his timing.

"That's the beauty of this team," Pierce said. "When you got four guys, Kevin (Garnett), myself, (Rajon) Rondo and Ray (Allen), it's never on one person's back. We all take pressure off each other. And it was just a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of."

Said Rivers: "Paul just gave us everything he had, but didn't have a lot."

Among the things Pierce was able to provide was someone attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line - something he did very little of in Boston's two previous games in which he shot just one free throw compared to shooting 30 in the C's first three playoff games against the Hawks.

On Thursday, Pierce went to the line eight times which was pretty close to the number of free throw attempts (9.3) he averaged in Celtics victories prior to closing out the series on Thursday.

Pierce getting to the line was indeed a contributing factor in Bostons' series-clinching win. Here are some other keys highlighted prior to the game, and how those keys actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston will look to shore up its defense against the Hawks' 3-point shooting. A big part of this will have to do with the C's doing a better job of rotating out to the Hawks' shooters. In the second quarter of Boston's Game 5 loss, Atlanta connected on four consecutive 3-pointers that in hindsight, gave the Hawks the kind of confidence that they rode for the rest of the game.

WHAT WE SAW: Atlanta's 3-point shooting once again gave them a chance at victory as they connected on 7-of-15 attempts. Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson did the most damage from 3-point range against Boston as they combined for six of the team's seven 3s.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Josh Smith: This has been a really tough matchup for Bass, but he's starting to figure out how to deliver offensively in a similar fashion displayed during the regular season. Bass has scored in double figures the last two games, which includes 14 points - the most he has scored in this series - in Boston's Game 5 loss. As for Smith, the sprained left knee injury that has bothered him for the bulk of this series still hasn't prevented him from being a double-double machine that the C's have yet to find an answer for containing.

WHAT WE SAW: Smith got the best of Bass in this battle, although Bass did a much better job than previous games in keeping Smith from going bonkers on the boards. Smith had 18 points but grabbed just nine rebounds - the first game in this series in which he did not snatch double digit rebounds. Bass did a decent job defensively (he had two blocked shots) and rebounding the ball, with six - only Garnett who grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds had more boards among the C's players, than Bass.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Al Horford was the best player on the floor in Game 5 when it mattered most - the fourth quarter. It wasn't so much that he scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as much as it was the timing of those points, that hurt the Celtics so much. His play has improved from one game to the next, but you have to wonder is he ratcheting up his play too quickly and thus making himself more vulnerable to some type of physical setback.

WHAT WE SAW: Horford had stretches of impressive play, but he was never able to manufacture the excitement and energy he brought to the floor in the Hawks' Game 5 win. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting, with nine rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK: Even though Ray Allen is coming off the bench now, he's still playing starter-like minutes. So you know it's only a matter of time before he delivers a vintage Ray Allen, starter-like game. He has had some good games as a reserve, but has failed to surpass the 20-point barrier in 11 straight games - the longest such streak he has had with the Celtics. Considering the magnitude of tonight's game and the fact that he has yet to surpass the 20-point mark, it wouldn't be all that shocking if his shot-making propelled the C's to a win tonight and with it, moving them on to the next round of the playoffs.

WHAT WE SAW: Ray Allen's shooting never really came into play much, as he finished with 7 points while missing six of his second shot attempts.

Ainge: More tests to confirm Isaiah Thomas (hip) is on track

Ainge: More tests to confirm Isaiah Thomas (hip) is on track

BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas will undergo additional testing prior to the start of training camp, which as you might expect has elevated the concern level among Celtics Nation.

But Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com that the tests have more to do with re-affirming that Thomas remains on a good track health-wise, than any added concern for the two-time All-Star’s health.

Thomas, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018, suffered a right hip injury last season that limited his effectiveness in the Celtics’ conference finals matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boston eventually lost the series in five games, with Thomas unable to play due to the hip injury in the last three.

Ainge said earlier that Thomas’ injury would not require surgery.

"There's nothing else, other than what Brad [Stevens] said," Ainge told CSNNE.com.

Speaking on the Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix, coach Brad Stevens said Thomas will have another scan in early September when Thomas returns to Boston.

From there, a more exact timeline will be established for Thomas’ return.

“It’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab,” Stevens said. “There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.

Stevens added, “We want what’s best for Isaiah. We want to make sure that when he is ready to roll, which hopefully is sooner rather than later, that he is ready to roll at his highest level and for the longest possible time, obviously, right? So that’s a lot more important to me than anything else.”

Markieff and Marcus Morris court date set for August 28

Markieff and Marcus Morris court date set for August 28

BOSTON – NBA players Markieff and Marcus Morris, each facing a pair of aggravated assault charges stemming from an incident in 2015, will have their day in court on August 28.

Marcus, who was acquired by Boston via trade from Detroit this summer, as well as his brother Markieff who plays for Washington, will appear telephonically according to Maricopa County court officials.

Marcus and his twin brother Markieff were allegedly involved in a January 24, 2015 incident in Phoenix that left Erik Hood who attended the same Philadelphia high school as the Morris twins, with a broken nose, abrasions and a large bump on his head.

Hood told police that he was held down while four men assaulted him outside of a high school basketball game in Phoenix, and that the Morris twins were among those to assault him. Authorities said a witness identified the Morris twins as having been present at the scene during the incident.

According to Hood, he had at times coached them in addition to occasionally giving them rides to practice. But the relationship went south about a year before the twins were drafted. That is when they reportedly found “inappropriate” text messages from Hood to their mother.

The Morris twins have said they had nothing to do with the incident, and added that they have no ties to Hood.

A conviction could potentially result in jail time – each of the aggravated assault charges carries a maximum jail sentence of 3 ¾ years – in addition to a 10-game suspension under Article VI, Section 7 of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement which states that a player will be suspended for “a minimum of ten (10) games” if they are convicted, pleads guilty or pleads no contest or “nolo contendere” to a violent felony.

And while pleading down to a misdemeanor charge may result in the Morris twins avoiding jail while being put on probation and likely paying a fine, that too would likely lead to some type of league suspension.

Article 35 of the league’s Constitution gives Commissioner Adam Silver the power to suspend a player if he, “shall have been guilty of conduct that does not conform to standards of morality or fair play, that does not comply at all times with all federal, state, and local laws, or that is prejudicial or detrimental to the Association.”