Moore earns playing time, makes most of it

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Moore earns playing time, makes most of it

INDIANAPOLIS The loyalty that Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has to players with some NBA experience over rookies is commendable - almost to a fault.

But at some point, Rivers had no choice but to give the C's second-round pick E'Twaun Moore a chance to play meaningful minutes instead of coming in for end-of-the-game, mop-up duty.

The Celtics suffered yet another defeat on Saturday, this time a 97-83 loss to Indiana.

But within the defeat, the C's may have found a reliable backup guard for Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen in Moore.

The fact that the 6-foot-3 combo guard played so well on Saturday shouldn't be all that surprising. In the shortened preseason, Moore was clearly one of the Celtics' better players - not just among the rookies, but among all the C's.

So when you try and figure out why he hasn't played more, Rivers is quick to lay the blame where it belongs.

"I've held up his progress, honestly," Rivers said. "I've been saying for a week now, 'he should play. He should play.' You're trying to give other guy's a chance to take that. And E'Twaun just the thing I was most impressed, he didn't get discouraged. He just kept pushing forward; kept pushing forward, every practice, everything we had, he kept standing out. His play screamed at me, to put him in. And he was terrific."

If Rivers sticks to his guns and continues to get Moore on the floor, that means Avery Bradley's playing time will be slashed and at times, wiped out altogether.

Moore, who played at nearby Purdue and grew up on the East Chicago, Indiana - about two hours away from Indianapolis - had seven points, three assists, two steals and a couple of rebounds in about 20 minutes.

Rivers added, "he played well tonight and you don't get too excited about it. But I know he can play. We just have to give him more of a shot."

Moore, like the rest of the media, has heard for days from Rivers how his opportunity to play was going to come.

Play or not, Moore said his preparation didn't change.

"It's a learning process," Moore said. "I'm trying to get better everyday. By seeing these guys play and watching the games, I'm very observant and try to get better from there."

Having unshakable confidence has been a key to Moore's progress. Having a head coach like Rivers who believes in his game, also helps.

But ultimately, it comes down to how well the Celtics veterans, players like Paul Pierce, feel about his game.

Needless to say, you can count Pierce among those who likes what he's seen thus far from the rookie.

"His poise; for a rookie, the calmness that he brings to the game," Pierce said. "Most rookies that you see come in, are a little erratic. They really rush things. He really has a good poise about him. I don't know if that comes from his maturity of being a four-year college player. Maybe that's it; being well coached in college. He's a mature rookie, and he understands the pace of the game."

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”