Celtics have 5 days to recover before NBA finals
The Boston Celtics sure could use some time off.
Now they're getting it with a five-day break between games before starting the final drive toward their goal - a second NBA championship in three years and an 18th in club history, more than any other team.
Coach Doc Rivers gave his players two days off after their dominating performance Friday night with the wounded and woozy Rondo, Davis and Wallace helping in a 96-84 win over the Orlando Magic.
Boston led by at least 12 points throughout the second half and clinched the Eastern Conference title in six games. The NBA finals begin Thursday night at the Los Angeles Lakers or Phoenix Suns. Los Angeles led the West finals 3-2 heading into Saturday night's game in Phoenix.
Paul Pierce could use a respite from the battering he took driving to the hoop in the physical series with the Magic.
``I know I need it,'' said Pierce, the star of the clincher with 31 points and 13 rebounds. ``I've got a couple injuries that I kind of want to cure. ... Just minor stuff like foot, back, stuff like that. But nothing major for me, you know. Running into Dwight Howard really doesn't help your body.''
Late in the third quarter of Game 5, Davis, known as ``Big Baby,'' was leveled by an inadvertent elbow to the face from Orlando's muscular center under Boston's basket. Dazed, he struggled to his feet slowly then zigzagged upcourt on rubbery legs before falling into the arms of referee Joey Crawford near midcourt.
Two days later, Davis contributed 6 points, 7 rebounds and a block in 17 minutes.
``I was kind of dizzy a little bit because of the loud noise and just the adrenaline,'' he said after Friday's win. ``Then I kind of slowed down. I just thought, just go out there and play.''
Rondo was floored by Jason Williams while driving to the basket. Boston's point guard landed awkwardly on his back and stayed down, then got up slowly and sank two free throws for the last points of the first quarter and a 30-19 Celtics lead.
``He's going to be OK,'' Rivers said. ``I'm more concerned with Rasheed, honestly. Rasheed got tight. You could see it. I will say this about Rasheed and `Baby.' Neither one of them was in great shape.''
Wallace played only 12 scoreless minutes but had three rebounds. The backup forward, who has emerged as a major contributor in the playoffs, had left the previous game with back spasms and tweaked his back again Friday.
``Rasheed could not move,'' Rivers said, ``but we have time. So I think by Thursday we'll be good.''
``I'm glad we're going to get done and get some rest,'' Rivers said. ``That may be the most important thing going into the next series.''
None of those ailments are as devastating as the single injury that hurt the Celtics last season. Kevin Garnett missed the playoffs with a bad knee and Boston was eliminated by Orlando in seven games in the Eastern semifinals.
He avoided injury Friday when he and J.J. Redick pursued a loose ball and fell into the crowd with Garnett landing on top of the Orlando guard.
Garnett did miss 10 games from Dec. 30 to Jan. 20 with a hyperextended right knee, the same knee from which he had bone spurs removed last May. And Pierce sat out five games after left knee surgery, two with a sore left foot and three with a sore right thumb before returning March 2.
Rivers made it a priority to have his team healthy for the playoffs, even if it meant losing regular-season games. The Celtics went 27-27 in their last 54 after starting the season, while healthy, at 23-5.
``I thought after 28 games you could say we felt like we were the best team in the NBA, and then after that we had injuries, we fell apart, we struggled finding ourselves,'' Rivers said. ``That stretch, the last month, we formed a game plan.
``We were losing games, but guys were resting and conditioning, and I thought that was the only chance we had. Because the one thing I did learn through the injuries, we were not good enough injured, and we had a chance healthy. There were no guarantees, but we had a chance healthy.''
Players concentrated on getting treatment, working in the weight room and resting. Losses were less important.
``Despite what we were going through, everybody was focused,'' Ray Allen said, ``and wanted to be where we are today.''