Celtics-Heat Game 2 review: No '5050' calls for C's

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Celtics-Heat Game 2 review: No '5050' calls for C's

MIAMI Paul Pierce came out with a more aggressive demeanor. Ditto for Rajon Rondo.

That still wasn't enough, as the Celtics find themselves in a 2-0 series hole after a 115-111 overtime loss.

The series now shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

For the Celtics, it was a disappointing, tough to swallow loss considering for much of the game, the C's did exactly what they wanted to do in order to position themselves for the victory.

But down the stretch, the Celtics found themselves on the short end of 5050 calls.

Although the whole idea of there being 5050 calls was one that C's coach Doc Rivers wasn't totally ready to buy into completely.

"Can you call it something else besides 5050 calls?" he said. "Can you come up with another percentage for me?"

Concerned with picking up a fine for criticizing officials, Rivers declined to elaborate other than to point out that, "LeBron James took 24 free throws and our team took 29. Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket. It's just tough."

Pierce, who was 5-for-6 from the line, fouled out on a driving attempt by Dwyane Wade in the middle of the lane in which Pierce appeared to have jumped straight up when the contact was made - a play that more often than not results in a non-call.

"I thought it was a good play with me going straight up," Pierce said. "It could go either way. It didn't go my way tonight, so I had to watch the rest of the game."

Pierce looking to attack the lane as well as Rajon Rondo's career-high 44-point game (it included him converting 10 of his team-high 12 free throw attempts) gave the C's a chance at the win. Here's a look back at some keys highlighted prior to Boston's Game 2 loss.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With Boston struggling so much from the perimeter, expect more of the offense to be run through Kevin Garnett at the elbow or on the post. With Garnett likely to be more of a hybrid facilitatorscorer offensively, the Celtics are hoping that will force the Heat defense to loosen up its coverage on him and in turn, will allow him more opportunities to score or it will set up his teammates for easier baskets.

WHAT WE SAW: Although Garnett had 18 points, there was never a point in the game where he asserted his will as a legitimate low-post presence. C's coach Doc Rivers blames himself for that happening. "I've got to do a better job of getting Kevin the ball in the right spots," Rivers said. "I didn't think the entire night we did a good job at that."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade: It's pretty simple here. Ray Allen will get good looks, because the Heat - and everyone with a TV who has witnessed the Celtics of late - knows that Allen isn't just missing shots. He's missing wide open, lightly contested shots - something Allen has seen very little of throughout his career. He's not going to win the head-to-head battle with Wade. The C's know better. But he has to at least make it so that the Heat don't get so comfortable in giving him more space to shoot.

WHAT WE SAW: Wade had a big third quarter which helped position the Heat for the win, but Miami has to be concerned going into Game Three with Allen looking very much like he's starting to get his shooting rhythm back. He had 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting which included a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that forced overtime. "Ray, he's a warrior," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "And we're going to keep believing in him."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has to figure out how he can dominate the game, and figure it out quickly. Throughout the playoffs, Rondo has stretches in which he is the best player on the floor. Not once did he control the action in Game One with that kind of authority. Another repeat of that tonight, and the outcome for Celtics will likely be no different than it was in Game One.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo did more than just dominate his matchup. He delivered one of the greatest playoff games ever by a Boston Celtic player. He finished with a career-high 44 points on 16-for-24 shooting along with 10 assists and eight rebounds. Although Rondo is well aware that he had the kind of playoff performance that won't soon be forgotten, there was no sense of accomplishment on his part for one simple reason. The Celtics lost. "It's irrelevant," he said. "We lost. It's as simple as that."

STAT TO TRACK: Regardless of how you feel about the Miami Heat and whether they get preferential treatment by the officials, one thing is very clear. Their opponents have racked up an unusually high amount of technical fouls throughout the playoffs. There have been a total of 90 technical fouls called during the 2012 playoffs, 17 of them (18.9 percent) of them have been against Heat opponents. Lack of composure? Conspiracy? Regardless of which position you take, it doesn't change the fact the Celtics have to avoid getting into it with officials if they are to even this series up tonight.
WHAT WE SAW: Keeping with the trend in which Heat opponents pick up technical fouls, you can add one more to the list. And it would later prove to be a big one. Kevin Garnett was fouled by James Jones in the fourth quarter. After the whistle blew, Garnett swung an elbow in Jones' direction as the two were tangled up. The officials called the foul on Jones, but whistled Garnett for a technical foul. For those keeping track, Heat opponents have been whistled for 18 of the 91 technical fouls that have been called in the playoffs, or 19.8 percent.

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

BOSTON – You hear coaches and players often refer to the NBA as a make-miss league.

When summing up what happened in Boston’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, sadly it was that simple.

Dennis Schroder led the six double-figure scorers for the Hawks with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting.

Boston got many of the shots that they have been getting throughout this run in which they came into Monday’s game having won 11 of their previous 14 games.

The Celtics (38-22) have now lost three of their last four games. Life won’t get any easier for them with defending NBA champion Cleveland coming into town on Wednesday.

We have seen the Celtics make some miraculous comebacks under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, but Celtics fans understandably began hitting the exits with more than three minutes to play and Boston looking up at a 108-84 deficit.

Credit the Hawks defense which played with a greater sense of urgency, the kind you would expect from a team that had come in riding a three-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, Boston looked like the team that we have seen most of this season which relies heavily on their perimeter shooting to win games.

That’s not all that surprising against the Hawks whose interior defense is anchored by Dwight Howard.

Howard, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds, also had a pair of blocked shots and altered many others.

But the Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with Howard out of the game.

Howard, an absolute unstoppable force for the Hawks all game, picked up his second technical foul (an automatic ejection) for hanging on the rim following a put-back dunk with 4:03 to play in the third and Atlanta ahead 74-65.

He had picked up his first technical foul for shoving Al Horford earlier in the game.

But with Howard out, the Celtics still couldn’t take advantage of an Atlanta team that was much more vulnerable to dribble-drive penetration.

In fact, Atlanta began to pull away and took their biggest lead up to that point of the game, 84-69, following a 3-pointer by Tim Hardaway Jr. late in the third quarter which ended with the Hawks ahead 84-71.

And Boston’s struggles stemmed from their inability to make open shots.

For the game, the Celtics shot 39.1 percent from field which is a somewhat inflated figure considering the mini-run Boston's backups went on in the final minute or two of play.

Not even the usual high-scoring exploits of Isaiah Thomas could save the day.

The NBA’s leading scorer in the fourth quarter, Thomas had another sub-par night in the game’s final quarter of play.

He led the Celtics with 19 points, but only two came in the fourth quarter. And by failing to reach 20 points, Thomas’ franchise-record of consecutive games with 20 or more comes to an end at 43 straight.  

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Hawks hold decisive edge on the boards

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Hawks hold decisive edge on the boards

BOSTON – The return of Avery Bradley was a good thing for the Boston Celtics, but it wasn’t enough for them to control the action in the first half of Monday’s game against the Hawks who took a 51-47 lead into the half.

Bradley, who had missed previous 18 games and 22 of 23, had six points in the first half on 2-for-4 shooting.

The Celtics opened the game with a 7-2 spurt and led by as many as eight points (15-7) in the first before the Hawks begin to cut into Boston’s lead and eventually take their first lead of the night following a 3-point play by Paul Millsap with 4:20 to play in the quarter which put them ahead 18-15 as part of an 11-0 run.

Boston would regain the lead before both teams went into the second quarter tied at 24.

The second quarter saw Boston hit one of those scoring lulls that they go through from time to time.

But unlike last night’s win at Detroit when they went nearly four minutes without scoring, Atlanta’s offense did a much better job of taking advantage of Boston’s struggles.

Atlanta went on a 9-2 spurt in the second quarter capped off by a Kent Bazemore lay-up that put the Hawks ahead 35-31.

Boston rallied soon after with Bradley leading the charge.

Bradley drained a 3-pointer that cut Atlanta’s lead to 35-34.

A defensive stop by Boston led the way for an Isaiah Thomas lay-up that put the Celtics back on top, leading to the Hawks calling a time-out with 6:18to play in the half.

Atlanta tightened up defensively, doing just enough to go into the half with a four-point lead.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks.

 

STARS

Dennis Schroder

He really came out and set the tone for the Hawks, scoring eight of his 10 first-half points in the first quarter.

Isaiah Thomas

Atlanta did a nice job of blitzing Thomas and forcing him to pass the ball. But Thomas is a professional scorer so you knew it was a matter of time before he got going offensively. He led the Celtics with nine points at the half, in addition to dishing out five assists while also grabbing five rebounds.

Dwight Howard

The Celtics simply could not keep him from dominating play around the rim. He led all scorers at the half with 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.

 

STUDS

Marcus Smart

When the offense seemed to stall, it was Smart who kept the Celtics within striking distance in the second quarter. He had seven points at the half along with three rebounds and an assist.

Paul Millsap

He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (he missed six of his seven shots), but his presence was felt. He had five points at the half along with nine rebounds.

 

DUDS

Celtics rebounding

It really is an adventure when it comes to the Boston Celtics and rebounding the ball. Tonight, they have not been very good, with the Hawks holding a decisive 32-21 rebounding edge which has allowed them to hold a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint, an 8-2 edge on second-chance points in addition to leading the fast break points game, 7-4.