Final play a microcosm of Celtics' night

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Final play a microcosm of Celtics' night

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The stage was set for another heroic victory by the Boston Celtics on the parquet. Down 2-1 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, all the pieces were in place to reclaim momentum with a dramatic win in front of their home crowd on Monday night.

Nineteen-and-a-half seconds left in regulation.

A play drawn up out of a timeout.

The final possession of the game.

But the script had a different ending this time.

The Celtics, a team founded on chemistry and communication, failed to execute the final play. What was supposed to be a series of pick-and-rolls to get teammates open ended in a contested jumper by Paul Pierce that missed the mark as time expired. The game went into overtime, where the Heat outscored the Celtics, 12-4, for a 98-90 victory.

The final seconds of regulation looked like a flurry of confusion by the Celtics and left many scratching their heads wondering what just happened. After the game, the main components of the play broke down how the game was supposed to end if all had gone as planned.

Doc Rivers: We didnt execute the play, Ill just leave it at that. Ended up leaving Paul on the island. Its a play weve run several times and we just didnt execute it. It was supposed to be a pick-and-roll with a flare and none of it happened, which was unusual for us. But it happened.

Paul Pierce: It was supposed to end up with a fade for Ray Allen, then I was coming off a pick-and-roll for Kevin Garnett. I guess there was a little confusion right there and we never got into it, and I had to force a bad shot.

Ray Allen: We wanted to get a pick-and-roll with Paul and Kevin. We kind of screwed it up because we wanted Paul to get the ball, and Im at the free-throw line and I wanted to kind of fan off and create some misdirection and then Kevin go set the screen, and then from there see what we got. But I dont think we got a great shot. Paul still got a shot at the basket. Were kicking ourselves over that.

Kevin Garnett: The timing actually got messed up when he went and got the ball and miscommunication. Paul went with a couple seconds on the clock and felt like he had to be aggressive in that situation. But plays are all timing. If you dont come off at a certain time, clocks going, and Paul felt like he had to go. Its what it was.

Rajon Rondo: "It's a surprise but it happens, you know? Lotta talking in the huddle, but there wasn't enough listening, I believe."

Although the Celtics failed to connect on the final play of regulation, execution was a recurring problem that forced them to take a last-second shot in the first place. The Celtics committed 16 turnovers, including four in overtime, leading to 28 Heat points.

Rivers called the turnovers killers and pointed to missed opportunities on botched fastbreaks. The chances for the Celtics to win were there -- they just werent capitalized on.

Execution was poor down the latter part of the game, said Garnett. I thought we had opportunities to win, actually, and poor execution, good team, you cant do that.

The Celtics tried to reclaim the series with buzzer-beating heroics in Game 4. Now down 3-1 and facing elimination, they cannot afford to wait for a last second shot. Time in this series is running out.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBAShe can bereached at jessicacamerato@gmail.com.

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”