Free throw disadvantage hurting Celtics

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Free throw disadvantage hurting Celtics

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have broken down all the different reasons that have contributed to their 2-0 series hole against the Miami Heat.

While there's no disputing the C's must step their game up in several areas, none appears more obvious than free throws.

Although Boston has committed just five more fouls (48-43) in the two games than the Heat, Miami has taken 14 more free throw attempts in each game.

A big reason for that is the Heat's 1-2 punch of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have been in attack mode both games, driving into the paint, looking to finish while drawing contact.

Limiting the Celtics' ability to get to the line has been part of the defensive game plan for the Heat.

"We're trying to be active and keep the ball in front of us," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. "It's a whole lot easier said than done against that team."

But having James and Wade certainly helps.

"Our game is we're attackers," Wade said. "Myself, LeBron, we're two of the (best) attackers, getting points in the paint, putting pressure on defense. Whatever the game calls for, we have the team that can do it."

James and Wade both rank among the top 10 players in the postseason in free throw attempts, coming in at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.

The highest ranked Celtics player in the postseason in free throw attempts is Rajon Rondo, who is ranked 21st with a total of 36 free throws taken.

"We're not trying to be anybody different than we have been during the regular season," Spoelstra said. "We're a team that does attack. We're a team that does try to get opportunities in the paint, that does try to get to the free throw line. That's not something new we're trying to do now."

The Celtics, meanwhile, haven't attacked the paint with the same kind of force or focus.

Part of that has to do with Paul Pierce, the C's best at attacking the basket, being limited in both games.

In Game 1, he was ejected after picking up a second technical foul with seven minutes to play.

And in Game 2, Pierce spent most of the first half on the bench or in the trainer's room after suffering what he later said was a left Achilles strain.

Pierce was able to return, but missed his first five shots after stepping back on the floor.

The injury is not considered serious enough to keep the Captain out of tonight's pivotal Game 3 matchup.

"It was a minor strain," Pierce said. "But it's doing good."

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

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

The bumps and bruises continue to pile up for Isaiah Thomas, adding a new one to the group during Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard said he strained his right groin in the second quarter, but added that the injury won’t force him to miss any games. 

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“I’ll be alright,” Thomas told reporters after the loss. “I’ll get treatment. I’ll be fine for Wednesday (against Orlando).”
 
The injury appeared to have happened shortly after Houston’s Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 55-45.
 
At the time it didn’t seem all that serious as Thomas, who had 20 points on the night, came down and drained a 3-pointer. 
 
But after the game, Thomas acknowledged his groin did bother him during the game in which he played 33-plus minutes. 
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” said Thomas, who finished with 20 points. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who played in all 82 regular season games last season in addition to each of Boston’s 21 games this season, has dealt with an assortment of injuries including but not limited to, a swollen middle finger injury on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
Thomas, an All-Star last season for the first time, has played at an elite level that should once again position him to be represent the Eastern Conference. 
 
Following Monday’s game, Thomas is averaging a career-high 26.0 points per game which ranks ninth in the NBA along with 6.1 assists.