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Saturday Notebook: The Truth Lives, Game-End Strategy, Sheed’s Fines, And Angry Heat Fans

 

• Paul Pierce lives. The Truth’s buzzer-beater last night is his first-ever walk-off post-season shot and only his second playoff game-winner—with game-winner defined (via 82games.com) as any shot taken with fewer than 24 seconds left on the game clock and the scored tied or with the shooter’s team trailing by one or two points. The other was Pierce’s game-winner against the Bulls in Game 5 last season, which he hit with 3.4 to go. 

Pierce was reflective afterward, according to ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg:

“This has been one of my more trying seasons, to tell you the truth. I’ve never been through this much in my career. I had surgery, then my sprained, and then after that I sprained my thumb. It was very trying.

“I’m used to playing through injuries, but at this point of my career, at this age, I don’t heal as quickly as I used to.”

Forsberg also takes us through the thinking on the final play, which looked to me as I watched the game like it was designed for Ray Allen to pop free in the corner. I was wrong:

After Ray Allen missed on the previous possession, Pierce and his coach admitted that the captain pretty much demanded the ball. Rivers drew up a couple of options, particularly if the Heat attempted to foul, but everyone in Boston knew exactly how the final play was going to unfold.

And:

“I was ready for them to come foul and I was going to try to get a shot up, but they didn’t come,” said Pierce. “I just got to my little sweet spot on the right elbow and got a good look at the rim.”

And here’s Ray:

“We put our faith in his hands that last shot,” said Allen. “He came through for us. It’s great to have somebody that can make shots like that at the buzzer.”

And here’s Perk:

“That’s the Truth. He lives for games like this. I expected him to do that tonight. He was attacking and his jumper was falling.”

Good for Paul Pierce. My love for Paul Pierce is not a secret. 

Here’s the thing: The isolation 21-foot jumper is a bad end-of-game shot. The fact that Paul Pierce hit it last night does not change that. It was a predictable, low-percentage shot before Paul Pierce’s mid-range shooting percentages dropped off a cliff this season. Before last night’s game-winner, Paul Pierce was 13-of-57 (22.8 percent) on shots that could win or tie a game in the last 10 seconds of regulation and overtime over the last 10 seasons, according to NBA’s Stats and Research Group

The league average on such shots over the last decade is about 29 percent; they are ludicrously hard shots to make, and Pierce deserves credit for having the Cassells to take them and accept the responsibility if/when they don’t go in. 

But the odds are stacked against this shot every time. Doc surely understands this, and hopefully will continue to vary the team’s late-game plays—something he’s done well this season—as the playoffs continue. 

• Speaking of the last play, the Herald’s Mark Murphy notes Doc’s decision to insert Michael Finley into the line-up to play the role Eddie House would have played:

In truth, Wade wouldn’t have affected the play anyway. With Michael Finley on the floor to draw attention and with Rondo under the basket as Pierce dribbled away,Doc Rivers had called a play that would have taken the Heat All-Star well away from the ball.

And Doc also confirms the action involving Ray Allen in the right corner was a decoy:

“It was just Paul,” the Celtics coach said. “All of the movement was just false movement to get people occupied.”

• Bob Ryan provides some more choice details about the shot, including that Doc Rivers instructed Pierce not to leave any time on the clock. This drives my Dad (and, to a lesser extent, me) crazy. Dad is always yelling for the C’s to start their last-second play with 5 or 6 seconds left instead of 2 or 3, if only to give the bigs a chance to crash the offensive glass. 

But Doc’s instructions were clear, Pierce told Ryan:

“Coach said not to leave time on the clock,’’ Pierce explained. “When I looked up and saw two seconds, I decided to make my move. I got my little sweet spot on the right elbow.’’

• Ryan also reminds us the C’s nearly blew this game by slipping into some well-worn bad habits:

But they would have known how spectacularly self-destructive they had been, committing six turnovers and being hit with a defensive three-second violation in a span of 5:41 after a second-chance Pierce inside-out 3-pointer provided by the ever-exciting Rajon Rondo had given them that nice 9-point lead. They would have wasted an otherwise superb, professional effort with that one horrible stretch of non-thinking, non-executing basketball.

They might not be able to get away with a stretch like that if they advance to the next round. 

• Ray Allen tells Ryan the team’s mindset was different last night when things started going bad:

“In the regular season, if something happened the way it did tonight in the fourth quarter, it would have been, ‘Man, you’ve gotta do this, you’ve gotta do that,’ ’’ said Allen. “Now we’re all helping each other.’’

Good news. And Doc also senses things coming together: “I’ve got to tell you,’’ Rivers said. “In the first quarter, I said, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to win or lose, but we’re here.’ ’’

We’re here. The Boston Celtics are here. How long will they stick around?

• The C’s are saying all the right things about finishing the series up on Sunday. Here’s Pierce (via the Globe’s Julian Benbow):

“It’s very important,’’ said Paul Pierce. “If we’re able to get Game 4, it’ll give us some days rest.”

• In case you missed Michael Beasley’s “they’re old” comments about the C’s, here they are, via the ProJo:

“We have to be more athletic, more energetic, bring the fire,” Beasley said. “Make them feel old. They’ve got a lot of veterans on their team and we’ve got a lot of young guys. We just need to run the floor and just try to tire them out.”

Michael: Enjoy the off-season. 

• Also via the ProJo: Doc Rivers had this to say about Sheed’s $35,000 fine:

“Rasheed alone is an individual hedge fund by himself.”

• Or how about this quip, via the Herald:

“It’s like the sun coming up lately,” Doc Rivers said yesterday. “You wake up and Rasheed’s fined.”

I dunno…maybe people shouldn’t be laughing this stuff off. Certainly, some fairly high-profile Celtics fans have suggested Doc should have already called out Sheed a bit more harshly and publicly about his play and his technicals. Doc has said Sheed needs to play better, and he did get in a shouting match with Sheed after a technical toward the end of the season, so it’s not as if he’s just let Sheed’s flaws go without comment. But I understand the folks who get annoyed when Doc just laughs off Sheed’s latest outburst/fine/technical. 

• Did you notice L’il Ricky Pitino in the building? He was there, the Herald reports, and Paul Pierce still seems to feel affection for him:

Pierce, told that his first NBA coach was in the building, said, “I didn’t know he was here. That’s my boy. I would have gone over and said, ‘What’s up?’ ”

• Sean Grande, WEEI’s radio play-by-play guy, got into a dicey little confrontation with a couple of Heat fans during last night’s game, the Globe reports. Grande and Cedric Maxwell got relegated to a broadcast spot in the lower bowl, and Grande stood throughout the game. It’s unclear from the story why Grande stood—whether he had a bad view of the court. 

But two Heat fans behind him were not happy:

Grande stood for the entire game and a female fan sitting above Grande claimed she could not see the action on the east side of the court clearly. The fan complained to security and arena officials to no avail and screamed repeatedly at Grande to sit down. 

And:

A companion of the fan then started screaming expletives at Grande and said he hoped he could be heard on air. The female fan followed by yelling to Grande, “Who do you think you are?’’

And finally:

After Pierce hit his winning shot, Grande sat down and the female fan doused him with a drink. Grande did not respond and remained on the air. Security did not admonish the fan. 

I sympathize with the fan up to a point. It sucks to have your view obstructed. On the other hand: Don’t throw a drink at the guy, OK? 

• It’s amazing how much perception can change in a few days. I watched the game at a bar in Manhattan with a couple of buddies. It wasn’t a sports bar, so I was the only one paying any real attention to the game. When Pierce hit that shot, a dude at the bar noticed me celebrating, turned to me and yelled, “Man, I gotta tell ya, I think Boston is gonna take down Cleveland. The Cavs just don’t look that good.”

Game 4 tomorrow. Bring out the brooms.

  • Berkcelt

    I saw the action of Ray flaring to the corner as well, but it looked a little half-hearted on both KG and Ray’s part. As for winding it down, I’m not sure Doc and Paul were completely on the same page.

    “We told him last shot, but I do not know if we meant it to that extent,” Rivers said. “I was not sure if he got it off when he first shot.”

    Anyway… Long live the Truth! Go Celts!

  • Sami

    It drove me a little crazy as the seconds continued to tick down,.. I even got a little nervous. When it went in though I couldn’t stop smiling, clapping, or doing my one game away from a sweep I never saw coming to be honest with you happy dance.

    My love for The Truth is no secret either but I’m looking a tthis now and I’m like how could Miami not know this is what was going to go down? And why didn’t they foul? They had one to give.

    Oh well We won we’re up 3-0 Tomorrow we’re getting out the brooms Sweep and Round 2 here we come. Look out Cav’s!!!

  • http://celticshub.com Stephen

    Say what you will about the last shot,however the C’s are now bringing the defensive intensity that won it for them 2 years ago. Plus they outrebounded Miami again. If Chicago can find a way to draw even with the Cavs while the C’s sweep tommorrow,we’ll watch the so called experts figiting in their seats when asked about Cavs–C’s round 2. This is gonna be big!!!

  • Perry

    @Zach

    I was curious to get your take on the Stern/Jackson war of words?

    As for the feedback, I’ve been scrolling through the papers and blogs enjoying everyone’s salient points. Here are some of mine.

    1- On this night the Celts were a bit more susceptible to the drive, draw, kick (Heat 50% FGM). But this effort was championship caliber and when they needed to stop the bleeding they got it done at both ends of the floor.

    2- I don’t have the Elias Sports Bureau at my disposal, but I can’t remember a game where the ball was jarred off a split this many times. Rondo and TA were like human octopus.

    3- Rondo’s hustle was emblematic of his team’s resurgence. Honorable mention to Davis for grabbing two successive offensive rebounds, which triggered an 8 point lead going into the final quarter.

    4- Months ago when this team was mired in it’s funk I had made a case for Davis to play more minutes and limit Sheed’s. We may have reached the genesis. To his credit Sheed weathered some questionable fouls and didn’t hurt his team registering a +11 differential in 11 minutes.

    5- I have ample respect for those who use stats to form their own thesis, but one stat pertaining to Pierce must be called into question. True, his mid range game suffered for most of the season. But the greater context of those numbers can be explained by injuries not a database. We knew he rushed back to soon after the knee was drained. Then one injury after another ensued. Hence the numbers dipped. There are no stats for leadership and competitiveness. If data alone could project the heart of champion bookmakers would be out of business.

    6- That should have been at least a flagrant 1 on O’Neal. He took down Kevin with a hook, and then grabbed his jersey. Kevin showed what a pro he is by just walking away. One day soon O’Neal’s 23 million dollar salary will shrink to 825k, and a year later he’ll be bounced out of the league. But I’ll take that pay cut any day of the week.

    7- As most of us predicted the Heat played with a vengeance, but the Celtics have learned their lesson from the previous two years when it comes to putting away first round opponents. The mental toughness is back. Keep up the killer instinct in game 4 and make the loudest statement in the first round.

    Dare I say it?

    3 down and 13 to go.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Perry: That’s a great point about the Pierce stats—the impact his health. It’s a point I honestly meant to make in the notebook and flat forgot. It’s absolutely fair, and I’m sure his health impacted his shooting %s. Unhealthy legs and all that.

  • What More Can I Say?

    I think too many people are way too concerned with Sheed in general. The guy is the NBA’s leading techinal foul recipient and he has a BIG mouth. That being said, what is up with him being a focus of attention? I am convinced that people don’t like him because of his mouth, not because of his play. His play opens the door for criticism, but DAMN!!!! Personally, I think his play hasn’t been all that bad in the offs. Don’t get me wrong…he still ain’t earning that check….but sh*t neither is Brian Scalbrine or Nate Robinson!

    All I’m saying is C’s fan have it good. 2 championship runs in 3 years is a blessing. It should be all kicks and giggles!

  • http://loscy.com LOSCY

    The Heat’s fragile existence crumbled on center stage last night in front of a nationally televised audience. Watching the game on television, you had to wonder if the city of Miami even knew that their own El Heat team was in the playoffs: there were so many empty seats scattered in the American Airlines arena. El Heat’s inability to close out game 3 just ended any chance they have of taking this game past game 5… Even during a masterful performance by their superstayr D-Wade who did everything right: shot when he needed to shot, draw phantom fouls, pass to get other guys involved, play defense… The Heat’s demise was as much a product of their own failure as the very fact that the Celtics wouldn’t give away this win. The latter point here is the one that matters.

    The Celtics are, without a doubt, still a contender. Critics can point to the fact that they are playing a really inflated #5 seed team in El Heat, but I’ll say that the true opponent for this first round Celtic team was in fact themselves: would they give in to the demons that haunted them during every game from January on when they barely played .500 ball? It didn’t matter if the Celtics were playing the Bucks, Heat, or LA Spark: the Celtics needed to overcome their own mental hurdles in order to clear the way for themselves against the top teams in the East. The litmus test so far, however, is revealing some good news: they can still contend.

  • rondo-is-love

    Critics and haters can say whatever they want about the Celtics only being up 3-0 because of an “easy” opponent… but you know, other than Orlando, they’re still the only team that remains undefeated for the time being, unlike the highly favored Cavs & Lakers (and whooo, how about them Thunder?!).

  • DeVelaine

    With as close as the Thunder(ZombieSonics!) have been in LA, I’m starting to think an upset is possible in that series.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    Totally agree on a great outcome, kudos to truth on a very tough shot…..but hoping Doc doesn’t go back to that iso play in late game situations. Hopefully this will be the ‘decoy’ truth iso that other teams will think about for the rest of the playoffs as the Cs run other stuff to close games.

    Don’t mind that pierce fully waited to end the clock. The way the Cs rebound on the O end…..I have to think its the best % decision with most matchups.

    The heat are done. Today or game5, all the same. Now hoping the Bulls can push the Cavs out a couple more games.

  • urbeltic

    I thought it was a terrific play only because Wade was hurt. Winning in OT was going to be pretty straightforward with a DWade that apparently couldn’t walk. So just dribble it out, no pass, just one quick shot by one guy…if it goes in, great, if it doesn’t…ice it in OT. If DWade was still walking I would have wanted Ray to shoot.

  • Perry

    LOSCY

    I couldn’t have said it any better. This is not about overrunning an overachieving Heat team, it’s about rekindling that commitment and mental focus it takes to win titles.

    I have to say kudos to DJR who probably thinks I’m an arrogant jerk. I disagreed vehemently with his take on the regular season, but he was right. It didn’t matter much to this team. Yes there were many moving parts including the injuries to overcome, but let’s be honest, it was never a question of skill. They just refused to kick it in gear. Now their putting out the effort we always expected. I never stopped believing. I just couldn’t reconcile their approach. We have a long way to go, but we’re off to one heck of an impressive start.

    DeVelaine

    The Lakers/Thunder series is eerily reminiscent of our series with the Hawks two years ago. That environment out there is intimidating even for old pros like Kobe.

    Olk. City ran the fakers out of the building. They countered LA’s length with active hands off double teams. That produced 24 fast-break points. They also had 23 second-chance points. They just kicked LA’s ass.

    That’s the good news.

    The bad news is no one is making more than 7 million/year. In 2011 Durant will demand max money. Jeff Green (Danny’s original pick) will want a cool 10 million — ditto Westbrook in 2012. I have to tip my hat to Danny. All along he wanted Durant over Oden. If the ping pong balls popped another way he would have been ours, but we would have one less championship at this point in time.

  • http://hoopstersworld.blogspot.com miss j.moxie

    @Perry or Zach or anyone

    During what quarter/time did O’Neal’s hook-takedown/jersey-grab foul on Garnett occur?

  • Perry

    @miss j.moxie

    It came midway thru the 3rd quarter with the Celts up by 1, and it was a non shooting foul.

  • Glenn

    @rondo

    Yeahh, and I find a lot of this talk of the celtics beating up on an “easy” opponent, because many of these same people were coming into this series predicting an upset, and now that we’re one game away from a sweep *fingers crossed*, they want to brush how well we’ve been playing aside. The way we’re playing defense, I say bring on Cleveland!

  • http://hoopstersworld.blogspot.com miss j.moxie

    @Perry

    Thanks! Must’ve missed that part and I wanted to see what happened.

  • mitch

    if that chick threw a drink at me, i would rip her skull off and beat her male companion with it…but that’s just me…good composure and class shown by the broadcaster

  • http://biketalking.blogspot.com/ Adler

    Paul the octopus is definitely the hottest psychic .

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