Celtics-Heat Game 5 review: Pierce, Allen come through late

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Celtics-Heat Game 5 review: Pierce, Allen come through late

MIAMI Ray Allen didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Neither did Paul Pierce.

But with the game anyone's for the taking in the fourth, both players came up with big plays in helping the Celtics escape with a 94-90 Game 5 win that moves them one victory away from a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Both players have been hobbled at times in this series with injuries.

In Allen's case, the bone spurs in his right ankle gave him some problems in the third quarter, which led to him returning to the locker room for treatments.

"It's tight; it's sore," Allen said of his ankle. "Last game, it felt worst after the game. Now, I think that helped a lot, coming back here."

Although Allen missed seven of his nine shots from the field, he did come through with a pair of clutch free throws with 13.8 seconds to play that increased the Celtics lead to 92-88.

Normally Allen making free throws isn't that big a deal, but since returning to the C's lineup a few weeks ago, the veteran sharpshooter hasn't been nearly as stellar as he's accustomed to being, from the line.

"Where I am now, is where I've always been," said Allen who made all eight of his free throw attempts.

Allen said he was watching video of his free throw shooting and noticed he wasn't giving the right amount of push and lift on his shots, something he has since corrected.

"It was just a matter of getting in a game and knocking them down," he said.

Knocking down big shots has been one of Paul Pierce's strength, and it was certainly on display Tuesday night.

Pierce was just 5-for-19 from the field, but those numbers will soon be forgotten.

The same can not be said for Pierce's 3-pointer in James' face, with less than a minute to play.

It gave the Celtics a four-point lead that seemingly put the Heat on their heels for the remaining ticks on the clock.

"That's what players like Paul do," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "It really is. He's a big shot-maker. He always has been."

Their ability to come up with clutch plays down the stretch was indeed a key in Boston's win. Let's recap a few key discussed earlier, and how they actually played out in Boston's Game 5 win that puts them just one victory away from a return trip to the NBA Finals.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: All eyes will of course be on the expected return of Chris Bosh, who has missed the last nine games with an abdominal strain injury. If he looks anything like most players upon their first return after missing a few games, chances are high that he'll be a bit too hyped and too amped up initially, but will gradually calm down and play his game. The Celtics would be wise to put him in as many situations early on in which he has to move, just to find out where he's at physically.

WHAT WE SAW: As expected, Bosh returned to the lineup for the Heat and looked pretty good in limited minutes off the bench. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds while playing just over 17 minutes. It was his first game since suffering an abdominal strain injury that kept him out for nine games. "I definitely have more to give," Bosh said. "And I'll be there. When the time comes again, I'll definitely be ready to play more than I played (in Game 5)."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs LeBron James: It's rare that you'll find the leading scorers for two teams foul out in the same game, but it speaks to some degree to how tough a battle this series has been at the small forward position. The C's will probably look at ways to get Pierce off James defensively, which should result in more playing time for Mickael Pietrus and Marquis Daniels. As for James, look for his always-aggressive style of basketball to be rewarded with trips to the free throw line - a lot of them - tonight instead of fouls.
WHAT WE SAW: Pierce spent a good deal of Game 5 on James. And once again, Pierce would finish the night with significantly more fouls (five to one) than James. But the free throw discrepancy wasn't too outlandish (Pierce had five free throw attempts compared to eight for James). Although James did finish with more points (30) and shot the ball better (11-for-25), Pierce had the better night when you consider his 3-pointer with less than a minute to play, gave the C's a 92-88 lead and with it, control of the game and now, the series as a whole.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The pressure to perform will once again be on Rajon Rondo, who called out the Heat for "whining and crying" about calls at halftime of Boston's Game 4 win. Miami will look to be as aggressive as ever in their defense of him, which means we're likely to see the most physical play on Rondo in this series, tonight.

WHAT WE SAW: Rajon Rondo was another Celtic who had a less-than-impressive night shooting the ball (he was 3-for-15). But like most of his teammates, Rondo was at his best in the fourth quarter. "I made some mistakes I usually don't make," Rondo said. "I missed a lot of shots I usually make. But that's irrelevant. We stuck with it and my teammates believed in me."

STAT TO TRACK: Whether it's unfavorable calls or a lack of aggressiveness, the Celtics have to do a better job of closing the free throw gap that existed in Games 1 and 2 in Miami. In those two games, the Heat were plus-20 on free throw attempts. In the two games in Boston, the C's were plus-2 in free throw attempts.

WHAT WE SAW: Both teams put forth great effort, but this was a game that for the most part was one in which the officials were slow to blow their whistles. After the first four games, this was the first in which the officiating was not a major issue or talking point afterward. As far as free throw shooting goes, Boston went to the line 27 times compared to 25 for the Heat. But you have to keep in mind that Miami was fouling intentionally near the end of the game which padded the C's free throw total.

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.

*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?

*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.

*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.

*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.

*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box

*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.

*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.

*For something completely different: getting to know new CSNPhilly.com baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.

 

 

Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

BOSTON –  Like most of the NBA’s Millennials, Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown is active on social media.

But if you holla at him on Twitter or Instagram these days, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back anytime soon.
 
That’s because Brown is stepping away from the social media game to better focus on his first postseason journey with the Celtics, which begins next month.
 
Brown said he isn’t the only player inside the Celtics locker room who has pledged to do things differently leading up to the playoffs.
 
More than anything, the changes Brown speaks of are symbolic to illustrate the need for everyone to make sacrifices critical for a team’s success.
 
“I’ve paid attention to that, how a lot of guys are making the sacrifices necessary to add to this team,” Brown said. “Some guys are only drinking water. Some guys are cutting out cursing or other aspects. Some guys have some personal stuff...Everybody is putting themselves in that mind frame to sacrifice for the betterment of the team.”
 
He added that taking a step back from social media was just one of a handful of changes he has made leading up to the playoffs.
 
“Some are personal, but some, just being a lot more focused and more locked in, eliminating distractions,” Brown told CSNNE.com. “This generation, we’re so social media dependent. So just eliminating that, filling that in with other stuff whether it’s gym time or film or just time to yourself instead of it being so predicated on the cell phone.”
 
Brown understands the battle Boston (48-26) is in for the top spot in the East heading into the playoffs and how important getting that would be to this team.


 
“It means a lot, especially being a rookie from my perspective, being on a team that’s number one seed in the East and being a contributor.” Brown said. “What more could you ask for, coming in to the league, coming into the NBA. It’s been great for me. It’s been a blessing.”
 
While Brown has had his share of ups and downs as a rookie, there’s no ignoring the fact that he’s progressing at a brisk rate.

“Offensively, I’m getting a little more comfortable scoring the ball; mid-range game, I’m developing,” he said. “Defensively, being in the right spot at the right time, stuff like that. I’ve come a long way and I still have a long way to go.”