Celtics out of life lines, must win Game 3

191544.jpg

Celtics out of life lines, must win Game 3

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM Since dropping Games 1 and 2 in Miami, the Boston Celtics have talked about a lack of effort in both games, and the team's sense of urgency not being where it should have been.

Neither should be an issue in Saturday's Game 3 matchup, a game the Celtics desperately need to win in order to get back into this series.

And while players have talked about having a sense of urgency before Games 1 and 2, they know that it's put-up or shut-up time now.

"This is it," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "We've used all our life lines. This is it. I hate to say it like that, but it's true."

Coming back from a 2-0 deficit will be a daunting challenge, evident by only 14 teams in NBA history ever doing so.

A 3-0 hole has proven too steep a hole for any team to climb out of and claim success.

Even before they fell behind 2-0 to the Heat, the Celtics anticipated this series would be challenging.

"Winning championships is never a clear-cut formula how to do it," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "We talk about having resolve all year. We've proven we have it. Now we're just in a playoff situation where we have to prove that we have it."

That won't be easy, not against a Heat team that's starting to live up to its lofty billing at the beginning of the season.

While the Celtics acknowledge they haven't played their best basketball of the season, that doesn't mean returning to Garden will in itself cure all that ails them.

"You can't just hope that because you haven't played well, now if you play well things will work out for you," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "You have to deal with them now. They have great confidence, and we gave that to them."

And dealings with the Heat will challenge the C's mental toughness which for years, has been one of the team's greatest strengths.

"I always think new situations brings on new reactions," Garnett said. "You can always learn something. In order to want to learn, you have to be open to it. You can always learn something about yourself."

While that may be true, it doesn't take away from the sting of being down 2-0.

"Losing hurts," Garnett said. "It's not like you can just turn around and play back-to-back, play (in) two days. You have to prepare, and that's what we've been doing. Now it's about taking what we've done in practice, and apply it to the game."

That's much easier said than done against a Heat that is feeling good about its chances of winning in Boston despite losing its last 10 on Celtic soil.

"We're taking their best shot," Garnett said. "I still think we haven't played our best basketball. We have to do that. We can't just come out here and be talking about it. We're not in the white sands of the beach no more, we're back in the jungle. Hopefully that'll be good for us. We'll figure it out.

Garnett added, "I told you man, we're all in. I've got two pocket kings and I'm all in. Let's do it."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Catch the highlights of the Boston Celtics 109-100 win over the Indiana Pacers at home and hear from Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Al Horford.

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

BOSTON – As Avery Bradley made his way to the middle of the post-game media scrum inside the Boston Celtics locker room, he was informed that he had played 39 minutes in their 109-100 win over Indiana.

“I played 39?” Bradley said. “Man, I’m not even tired.”

And that may be the clearest sign to date that Bradley, a defensive pest who has been pestered by injuries this season, is as healthy as we’ve seen him in some time.

In addition to scoring 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a couple of assists, had a steal and was the head of the defensive snake that made life as hard as possible on Paul George who still managed to have a big night scoring the ball.

For Bradley to play so many minutes is a bit of a surprise when you consider how overcautious the Celtics were with his return from a right Achilles injury that kept him out for 18 straight games.

Bradley attributes the Celtics having some time off leading up Wednesday’s game.

“It was good for us and we were definitely prepared (on Wednesday),” Bradley said. “And it showed we’re improving every day as a team. We’re really locking in when we need to.”

And while he was one of three different primary defenders on George (Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder were the others), Bradley was the guy head coach Brad Stevens turned to most consistently down the stretch.

Bradley was the only Celtic to play all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The only other players that were on the floor for the entire fourth quarter, were Indiana's Monta Ellis and George.

You think Bradley was out there to shut down (2-for-10 from the field) Ellis?

Uh … nope!

“He (Bradley) was on Paul some,” Stevens said. “Not the whole time he was in. Marcus (Smart) guarded him a lot. Jae (Crowder) guarded him some as well. We just felt like we had to rotate bodies on them. I did not plan on playing Avery quite that many minutes.”

Stevens put Bradley back in the game to start the second and fourth quarters, something he normally does for Terry Rozier who did not play (coaches decision).

“And he maybe sat a minute at the end of the second,” Stevens said. “So that’s 24 minutes and usually it’s about twelve-to-fifteen.”

The additional playing time is something Bradley certainly isn’t going to ever complain about.

The same holds true for the Celtics having clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s tip-off.

“I don’t think anyone talked about it,” Bradley said. “We were just treating this like any other game, try to be prepared, go out there and execute the offensive game plan … I feel we did a great job of doing that.”

Indeed, the Celtics are playing with a flow and overall rhythm that’s making it extremely tough on their foes.

“If you look at their roster, everybody knows what to expect out of everybody,” said Paul George. “There’s never a moment where a guy is like, ‘What kind of shot are you taking?’ or ‘what are you doing?’ They are beyond that.”