Celtics notes: West steps in for Rondo

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Celtics notes: West steps in for Rondo

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Delonte West broke his gameday ritual.

After warming up without it on, West forgot to wear his sweatband, which he dons every game, for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

It just didnt make it, he said.

Turns out the change wasnt so bad after all.

West played his best game of the postseason on Saturday night against the Miami Heat. He scored 10 points (4-5 FG, 2-2 3PG) in just 12 minutes in the first half alone.

Doc Rivers said before the game that the bench had to play better, and West listened. He finished the game with 11 points and 3 assists in 25 minutes.

Its playoff time, West said following the Celtics 97-81 win. Im prepared and Im ready to go.

West was called on to do more than just score when Rajon Rondo went down with a dislocated elbow in the third quarter. Rivers turned to West to run the point. After missing the majority of the regular season with injuries, he was ready to step up.

Thats what they brought me here for, West said. I wanted the opportunity to be able to show this team that I can rise to the challenge.

While West ran the floor as Rondo prepared for an unlikely comeback, he was battling with an injury of his own. After the game he described aggravating his left rotator cuff on a blocked shot attempt. He received a pain shot and returned to the game. While West admits the pain is lingering but said he is alright, Rivers is keeping an eye on his key reserve.

Delonte is a major concern, he said. Shoulder could be worse than what we thought. Well see.

Pain aside, dont expect West to be kept off the court easily. As if seeing Rondo play with one good elbow wasnt motivating enough - When he came back I said Ive definitely got no excuse now, he joked - this is the type of situation he has been waiting for his entire career.

This is what all those days of being the last person on the court, out there with the street lights and you imagine yourself, 3-2-1, he said. Thats what its all about.

After watching LeBron James score 35 points in the Heats Game 2 victory, the Celtics were determined to stop him from taking over Game 3. They buckled down on defense and held him to just 15 points.

Without question we defended LeBron, said Paul Pierce. Anything under 25 points for LeBron, youve defended well. You know the type of talent he is. You know youre used to seeing him go out getting 25, 30 points a night. Thats what you expect from him. So when you can hold him down under that, it gives ourselves a better chance to win.

James shot 3-for-7 in the first half and struggled even more in the second, shooting 3-for-9 from the field.

Said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, No one will be able to do it on their own. Well have collectively be able to trust each other, trust the offense, trust the execution, the ball will have to move against a great defensive team. It didnt in the second half and we paid for it.

While the Celtics' Game 3 victory was critical in this series, neither team is getting too high or too low by the result.

Were just trying to gain some momentum, said Pierce. Its one game, 2-1, so we have another home game and have to take care of home court. Its not going to win the series if we just take care of home court.

Dwyane Wade is looking that bigger picture for the Heat.

Its a series, he said. You dont win in one game - its the first one to four. I thought tonight was our worst game of the playoffs so far . . . Weve had to battle, were a confident team, well move on from in, come back in Game 4.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

The last time Boston played at Washington, the Wizards buried them by 25 points.

It seems the Wizards have a similar mindset for Tuesday’s game which will feature every Wizards playing showing up in all-black.

“You know where we’re going with that,” Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. told the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner.

Yes.

We do.

But in case anyone wasn’t sure, let John Wall put the cookies on the bottom shelf for you and explain in succinct terms.

“A fun-er-ral!” he said with the man who thought this up, Bradley Beal, in the background yelling, “Yaa!”

The Celtics players acknowledged that Tuesday’s game would most likely be a physical, trash-talking affair.

That stems from their matchup two weeks ago that included a lot of physical play both teams that ultimately ended with the Celtics coming away with a 117-108 win.

ROUND ONE: THE JANUARY 11 GAME

Bradley Beal was whistled for a flagrant-one foul against Marcus Smart that seemed to get both benches hyped up.

Those two have a history dating back to last season when Smart, while driving to the basket, landed his left forearm across Beal’s face. The blow resulted in Beal’s nose being broken in addition to being put in the league’s concussion protocol program.

And after the Jan. 11 game, Jae Crowder and John Wall had a heated exchange of words that ended with Crowder’s pushing his finger into Wall’s nose, and Wall retaliating by slapping Crowder’s face.

The league fined Crowder $25,000 and Wall $15,000 for their roles in the incident.

“It’s going to be a competitive game,” Wall said. “Hopefully everybody just keep it clean and … makes it one of those great battles.”

Said Beal: “We want to keep it clean as much as possible but we know it’ll probably get chippy, a little trash talking.”

Isaiah Thomas, who was whistled for a technical foul in the Jan. 11 game, understands emotions will run pretty high in Tuesday’s game.

 “You just have to be ready for whatever comes our way,” Thomas said. “We’re not going to shy away from it. But we’re all human. There will probably be a little bit of physicality, a little bit of things to carry over to tomorrow’s game. But the most important thing is we just have to try and take care of business.”