Pierce: I have to keep my composure


Pierce: I have to keep my composure

By A.Sherrod Blakely

MIAMI The NBA is made up of emotional players playing emotional games. NBA playoff games can be especially heated.

At times, those emotions can wrap themselves around the most level-headed of players, and take them for a spin.

Paul Pierce knows this all too well.

The Boston Celtics' captain was tossed in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 99-90 Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday after he was whistled for two technical fouls -- an automatic ejection.

At the time, Pierce didn't agree with the calls. Having had a night to sleep on it, Pierce's feelings haven't changed.

"Referees called what they saw," he said. "I have to do a better job of keeping my composure. That's it."

Pierce will get that opportunity on Tuesday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Boston and Miami.

Keeping Pierce on the floor, especially down the stretch, will be critical to Boston's chances of splitting the first two games in Miami.

His first technical foul came after he was fouled by James Jones with 7:59 to play.

After the play, Pierce got into Jones' face which led to both players being whistled for a technical foul.

The league reviewed the play on Monday, and rescinded the technical foul against Jones. But they also changed the personal foul against Jones to a flagrant-1 penalty.

Less than a minute after the Jones incident, Pierce was trying to set a screen for Ray Allen when Dwyane Wade came barreling into him.

Pierce said something to Wade after Wade was whistled for a foul. It apparently was enough for official Ed Malloy to whistle Pierce for a second technical which is an automatic ejection.

On Monday, Pierce said he never received an explanation from Malloy on exactly why he was being tossed with seven minutes to play.

Lead official Danny Crawford explained to a pool reporter after the game what Pierce did to warrant the second technical foul.

"It's what we call a verbal taunt," Crawford said. "He directed profanity towards Wade. And in the rulebook, that is a verbal taunt. And it just so happened to be Pierce's second technical foul."

Whatever Pierce said, he didn't expect it would result in him being tossed out of the game.

"I was surprised in getting kicked out," Pierce said. "I didn't think what I did warranted ejection. Sometimes players get caught in the hype of the game. Sometimes the refs do, too."

Pierce does know one thing. A repeat meltdown on his part can do nothing but hurt the Celtics' chances of winning Game 2.

And while he's likely to have some thoughts about Game 1 prior to Tuesday's Game 2 tip-off, by no means does he plan to use that as added incentive to play well.

"I don't need no motivation," Pierce said. "I don't need that to fire me up for this. I have a common goal, just like the rest of my teammates, and that's to win a championship. I'm trying to do everything I can to make that happen."

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

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told CSNNE.com. “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation


Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation

BOSTON – You’ll have to pardon Terry Rozier if he doesn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look about him when he takes to the floor tonight for what should be the first of many meaningful stretches of playing time.
You see, being harassed with the defensive pressure of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart while trying to become a pest to Isaiah Thomas (which I’m told Rozier is frequently in practice), has instilled in Rozier the kind of confidence that’s not easily shaken.
That’s one of the main reasons why the Celtics aren’t freaking out about the departure of Evan Turner to Portland this offseason and more recently the sprained left ankle injury to Marcus Smart that’ll keep him out for a few games.
When it comes to filling those two voids, all eyes will be on Rozier.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next guy has to step up,” Thomas said. “Terry has shown he’s ready for that opportunity. He’s worked very hard this summer. I’m proud of him. I’ve been in that position before. He’s been waiting for that opportunity. He’s ready.”
Rozier had an impressive run during summer league as Boston’s best player. And in training camp, he hasn’t let up in being one of the standout performers.
It has led to the second-year guard being exactly where he thought his hard work in the offseason would take him to, and that’s a prominent spot in the Celtics’ rotation.
And in doing so, Rozier knows it’ll likely mean taking some minutes from his veteran teammates like Isaiah Thomas who he credits for always being there to help him grow as a player.
“I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “Getting his (Thomas’) minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It certainly looks like it for Rozier who has shown growth in just about every phase of his game since he was selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
There were many who questioned Danny Ainge’s decision to draft a guard so high when he already had Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in the fold.
But Rozier has shown the promise that Ainge saw in him coming out of Louisville.

Now it’s just a matter of Rozier getting the kind of minutes and producing, that will ultimately validate the trust and faith Ainge and his coaching staff showed in selecting Rozier.
For Rozier, not being looked upon all that favorably is just par for the course when it comes to his basketball career.
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was when I came here; that’s fine. They’ll fall in love with me and my game sooner or later.”