Paul Pierce is from Los Angeles, so he knows a thing or do about
And he knows he’ll have to act better if the Boston Celtics are
going to avoid getting into a quick two-game hole in their Eastern
Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.
A day after getting ejected from Boston’s Game 1 loss, Pierce
acknowledged that his actions were ”selfish” and that he needed
to do a better job keeping his composure. Nonetheless, he still
believes that he was more victim than aggressor during the two
plays in which he got technical fouls that sent him to the locker
room with 7 minutes left in Miami’s 99-90 win.
Game 2 is Tuesday, and Pierce isn’t sure if the physicality both
teams offered Sunday would carry over.
”This is not a movie or a script,” Pierce said. ”It’s hard to
really say what’s going to happen game in, game out.”
The Heat don’t necessarily agree with that.
They think they know exactly what’s coming on Tuesday – a much
better effort from the Celtics. Boston missed 20 of its first 26
shots in Game 1, never got Kevin Garnett rolling offensively and
had Rajon Rondo limited by foul trouble. Even after all that
misfortune, the Celtics had their chances to recover from what was
once a 19-point hole in Game 1.
”We’re physical teams, we’re defensive-minded teams, play a
similar style of basketball and it’s the playoffs,” Heat coach
Erik Spoelstra said. ”That’s all it is. We’re not overblowing the
physicality part of it. We’re not trying to be somebody we’re not.
They’re not trying to be anyone they’re not. … We know what our
Pierce spoke to reporters Monday for the first time since the
ejection. He was not available Sunday night, after he clashed with
James Jones with 7:59 remaining following a hard foul, then
exchanged words with Dwyane Wade 59 seconds later after the Heat
guard ran into his screen. Double-technicals were called after both
plays, and Pierce’s ejection was automatic on the second.
”I thought I was fouled excessively on both plays,” Pierce
So did Boston coach Doc Rivers, who is not wavering from the
stance he offered in the minutes following Game 1, when he said the
Heat were more ”chippy” than ”physical.”
But on Monday, while not backing off that assertion, Rivers said
the Celtics had bigger issues than whistles that didn’t go their
”We didn’t handle it very well,” Rivers said. ”Overall, I
thought they hit first the entire game. I’m talking legally – I’m
talking their picks, their cuts, their actions. I just thought they
played the game with a better force than we played the game, and
that’s something that shouldn’t happen. Both teams should play with
the same force.”
What Wade and Jones did that hurt Boston most had nothing to do
with the two plays that ended Pierce’s night. They combined for 63
points on 19-for-28 shooting from the field and an 18-for-19
combined performance from the foul line. Those numbers made LeBron
James’ 22-point, six-rebound, five-assist statline seem quiet by
”I would approach this game just like I would approach this
game whether I had 12 points (in Game 1) or 38,” Wade said. ”For
me, every game is different with this team. Certain nights, my job
is going to be different. They put a lot of attention toward LeBron
so I got an opportunity to not have all eyes on me so I got into a
rhythm. It might be different next game.”
So might the lineups.
Rivers said Monday’s practice might move Shaquille O’Neal closer
to a return after missing nearly all of the last three months with
leg problems. A decision on his Game 2 status likely won’t be
finalized until Tuesday morning’s pregame shootaround. And Miami
forward Udonis Haslem worked out again Monday, a day after he
nearly made the active roster for the first time since rupturing a
foot ligament on Nov. 20.
Both sides would see their depth bolstered if those big men
returned, but the Celtics know an O’Neal comeback alone won’t be
enough of a change if they plan on returning to Boston with a 1-1
split in Miami.
”Miami has two of the best athletes in the game in LeBron James
and Dwyane Wade,” Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal said. ”When they
get into the open court, they tend to be very, very tough.”
James knows a 1-0 lead against Boston is not enough. When he was
with Cleveland a year ago, the Cavaliers had both 1-0 and 2-1
series leads over the Celtics in the East semis.
Undeterred, Boston won in six games – a decision that still
”We’re naturally confident,” James said. ”But you never get
too high or too low in a playoff series. It’s one game. Series is
not won in one game.”