Celtics 'crushed' by more physical Hawks

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Celtics 'crushed' by more physical Hawks

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

ATLANTA Too many times to count Friday night, the Boston Celtics would follow the defensive game plan to near perfection.

They forced the Atlanta Hawks to take shots that they didn't necessarily want to take. And most of those shots were contested.

Funny thing happened after most of those shot clanged off the rim, though -- they wound up back in the hands of Hawks players who more often than not, converted those second-chance opportunities into points.

And when the final horn sounded, the Boston Celtics found themselves on the short end of an 88-83 loss.

The skidding Celtics, losers of four of their last six games, are known as a physical basketball team.

But the Hawks became the latest opponent to play the role of aggressor against Boston.

"We got crushed," said coach Doc Rivers, who repeated the "crushed" reference two more times in case anyone missed it. "We got absolutely crushed on the glass tonight. Our guys played with effort. I think they want to play. Atlanta was just better."

The Celtics were minus-14 on the boards against Atlanta, and minus-11 when you just looked at offensive rebounds.

Although Boston held the Hawks to just 36.7 percent shooting, all those multiple shot opportunities they got essentially negated what had been a number of otherwise solid defensive efforts.

"We have to be a better rebounding team," said Paul Pierce. "Especially if you play great defense for 19, 20, 22 seconds and the ball goes up, you gotta be able to get those rebounds. That really bit us in the butt tonight."

And it's a trend that'll keep giving them fits until they fix it.

The idea that the return of Shaquille O'Neal, which may happen as early as Sunday, can certainly help along those lines.

But Rivers isn't banking on O'Neal coming back being what rights all the wrongs of the C's.

"Let's not make . . . we have no saviors," Rivers said. "We have to save ourselves. Clearly another big body would help. Jermaine O'Neal playing three or four more games will help. But at the end of the day, all of us have to get on the glass and I didn't think we did that tonight."

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

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

BOSTON -- When it comes to NBA awards and accolades, players in contention often try to play it cool when asked about whether they are deserving.
 
And then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, who gives a definitive response whenever the question about whether he should be an All-Star starter is raised.
 
We’ll find out later today if Thomas will in fact be named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the East and West starters are announced. 
 
“It’s a little bit refreshing in that he is open about it,” Danny Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show this morning. “But every player wants to be acknowledged by their fan base, by other players in the league, coaches. You come into the league and as a young player you want to earn the respect of your peers and then you want to get paid and then you want to be an All-Star; maybe that’s the wrong order; and then nothing more important than winning.
 
Ainge added, “Isaiah is having a great year. He’s talked a lot about it. At some point in his career, he’ll talk about the most important thing and that’s winning championships.”
 
Ainge pointed to when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all Celtics, there was no mistaking that winning came before anything else.
 
But where those guys were in their careers in terms of individual achievements and just age, were major factors in their focus being so deeply rooted in winning.
 
“Along the way they all want to win, but when you get to the point where Paul, Ray and KG were in their 30s, they didn’t care about any of that other stuff because they had it all, already,” Ainge said. “They had multiple All-Star games, they had big contracts, winning became the only thing that mattered.”
 
In other Celtics-related news, Ainge said that there’s no timetable for when Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will return to the floor. He has missed five of the last six games with the injury which includes last night’s loss to the New York Knicks which was a game in which the 6-foot-2 Bradley was a last-minute scratch from the lineup