Rondo's triple-double key to Celtics' win

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Rondo's triple-double key to Celtics' win

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK Paul Pierce had it going strong as he led the Celtics to a 113-96 win and a game-high 38 points. Ray Allen was no slouch, scoring 32 points which included eight 3-pointers.

They were the perfect 1-2 punch for the Celtics in Friday's 113-96 win.

Often overlooked on nights when Allen is making 3s and Pierce is playing the role of a professional scorer, is Rajon Rondo.

Rondo racked up his first triple-double of the postseason with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists.

"I thought Rondo had one of those great catcher games," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He called a terrific game. When he does that, it allows us to run pretty much when we want to run."

The Celtics were indeed in attack mode Friday night as they outscored the Knicks 11-6 in fast-break points.

And leading that charge was Rondo, who is quick to credit the Celtics big men for doing a good job of freeing players like Pierce and Allen.

"Our bigs were getting Ray and Paul open," Rondo said. "That is what Doc (Rivers) has been preaching about."

He's right.

Lately, Rivers has talked more about the need for his team to do a better job with the little things such as setting screens.

"Every team sets picks and somebody is getting open," Rivers said. "It makes us smarter to set picks for Ray and Paul but it was also the motion and ball movement, I thought, was even more important that got Ray shots."

Directing the C's motion and ball movement was Rondo, whose play on Friday was reminiscent to how he played at the start of the season.

"He is a good player," said Mike D'Antoni. "I am not going to take anything away from him, (but) when you have Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hitting shots like that, that is where your assists come from."

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

Highlights: Boston Celtics 112, Miami Heat 108

Highlights: Boston Celtics 112, Miami Heat 108

Highlights as the Boston Celtics are able to hold off the Miami Heat and get the win 112-108 at the TD Garden.

Win vs. Heat puts Celtics in virtual tie with Cavs for first place in East

Win vs. Heat puts Celtics in virtual tie with Cavs for first place in East

BOSTON -- Location, location, location.

The Boston Celtics are seemingly where they want to be following their 112-108 win Sunday night over Miami, a victory that put the Celtics (48-26, .649 winning percentage) in a virtual tie with defending NBA champ Cleveland (47-25, .652).

But position means very little without purposeful play, something the Celtics are gradually doing more of than not.

And because of that, they find themselves one strong finish to the season away from going into the playoffs with the top overall record in the East for the first time since 2008 -- the year they brought home Banner 17.

While few anticipate the Celtics will advance to the NBA Finals, they have at least positioned themselves to have a shot at making a good run during the postseason if they can secure home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The last time the top overall top seed in the East failed to make it past the first round was in 2012 when the Chicago Bulls were eliminated by the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a series that was marred by injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah that created a much smoother pathway for the upstart Sixers to move on to the second round where they were defeated by Boston in seven games.

And while the players have tried to downplay the significance of landing the top seed in the East, there’s no question it’s something that they know all too well is within their reach.

Cleveland has a much tougher schedule to close out the season, one that includes a Monday night matchup at San Antonio against a Spurs team that’s fighting for the top spot out West.

The Celtics players have talked often about wanting to be in the best position possible going into the playoffs.

Having the top seed?

Yup.

That’ll do it.

And while Celtics players were aware of where the team was in relation to Cleveland, being tied for the top spot with the Cavs isn’t something that Boston is getting too giddy about right now.

“We hear it, but that wasn’t our focus [against Miami],” said Marcus Smart. “Our focus was to come in, get another game, keep that momentum going before we start the playoffs.”

Coach Brad Stevens said not a word was spoken in the locker room after Sunday’s win about the team now being in a virtual tie with the Cavs.

“I think -- I talked about this earlier --obviously the guys, because they get . . . most of them. to be honest, because they’re asked so much, some of them obviously have already said they watch it pretty closely,” Stevens said. “But I’ve tried to say, ‘Hey, it’s about playing as well as we can . . . ' ”

That and location, location, location.