Celtics out of life lines, must win Game 3


Celtics out of life lines, must win Game 3

By A. Sherrod Blakely

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

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Following Thursday’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be on the prowl to rebound – literally – from its first defeat of the season.

Because for all that did not go right in Thursday night’s loss, the way Boston was beaten on the boards stands out emphatically.

“They got 24 more shots than us. We only turned it over (12) times,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “So that’s the obvious place they’re getting their possessions, on the glass. That’s going to be the number one thing, that has been the number one thing. It’s something we’ve talked about. We have to get better at it.”


Boston was out-rebounded 55-36 on the boards which heavily factored into Chicago’s 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.

In the Celtics' 122-117 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, Boston won the overall rebounding battle 47-44, but had just 12 offensive rebounds compared to Brooklyn's 15 offensive boards. Despite the close margin, the Nets won the battle on the offensive glass running away, outscoring the Celtics 23-13 in second-chance points.

Stevens decided to start Tyler Zeller ahead of Amir Johnson to begin the third quarter, hoping Zeller would be a better matchup on the glass than Johnson who did not grab a single rebound in the 11 minutes of court time he got in the first half.

While Zeller did do a few good things on the glass and scoring in half-court sets, it wasn’t enough to swing the momentum Chicago was steadily gaining due to its ability to control the boards.

“I wasn’t real surprised but at the same time I knew it could happen,” Zeller told reporters, referring to Stevens’ decision to have him start the second half. “They did a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They beat us up on the boards, especially the first half. It’s something we have to get better at and continue to grow at.”

And it’s not a one-player or one-position issue, either.

Usually we think of bigs when it comes to rebounding. But Boston’s guards need to step up their rebounding game as well.

The struggles thus far have to be put in the context of this being just two games, the latter being the season opener for the Bulls who were jacked up more than usual due to it being the first game for Chicago native Dwyane Wade and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

“We have to focus on boxing out,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Guards have to do a better job. Guys like me, Al (Horford), Amir (Johnson), Tyler (Zeller) ... We have to do a good job of coming in the weak side and grabbing those; just focus on it, pay more attention to detail.”