Celtics hope to keep rolling on short rest


Celtics hope to keep rolling on short rest

PHILADELPHIA The Boston Celtics had an extra day off between Games 4 and 5, and they certainly played with a little more bounce down the stretch in an impressive 101-85 Game 5 victory over Philadelphia.

More bounce. An extra day of rest. Is there a connection here?

Celtics coach Doc Rivers certainly believes so.

"No, that's no coincidence," Rivers said.

For Rivers, it was good to see the Celtics take advantage of it. Because if they close out their second-round series with Philadelphia on Wednesday, they'll be playing every other day in the Eastern Conference finals.

But if the Sixers win on Wednesday and force a decisive Game 7 in Boston, that game won't be played until Saturday.

Throughout this season, Rivers has tried to make the most of every opportunity he has had to give his veteran team some rest, which has at times come at the cost of hindering the team's rhythm.

Fortunately for the Celtics, they have had an entire season of this balancing act which in many ways, has served them well in the playoffs.

It's not unusual for teams to have a light practice in between games during the postseason. But for the Celtics, playoffs or not, practice time is often limited to whatever they can accomplish during the team's shoot-arounds prior to playing in games.

"Well with the lockout and all, it's definitely a lot more on-the-fly learning; not just for us, but all teams," Celtics' Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "But we have a team with a lot of guys with high basketball I.Q.'s, so it hasn't really been a big deal or an issue for us."

Following Monday's win, there was no thought on Rivers' part to having practice today.

"We couldn't if we wanted to," said Rivers, whose team is riddled with injured players. "So it's just what we've gone through."

And while it has been an adjustment for the players, it's one that they accept with open arms.

Because for them, getting rest in between games, whether it's the regular season or the second round of the playoffs, is designed with one thing in mind.

And that's to position them to be their best when it matters most -- during games.

That mindset should serve them well heading into Game 6, a game that the C's anticipate will be as rugged a game as they've played in this series.

"We understand how difficult it is (to close out a team), nothing's easy," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "You got a very resilient Philadelphia group who just wont go away. I take my hat off to them, they are one of the better teams we even played in the last few years because of their fight; and they got great coaches and their players are mentally tough. We know theyre not gonna go away so we got to have our hard hats on for the next game, Game 6, to try to put 'em away.

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Greg Hardy, Chris Mannix, and Glenn Ordway discuss what the Celtics should have done before the trade deadline, and what they need to do in the offseason in order to reach the next level in playoffs.