C’s Look for Resiliency as Game 3 Awaits
WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are down 2-0 after dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Miami, but they were telling reporters on Friday that they’re confident about their fortunes going forward. Doc Rivers made it clear: they’re not going to roll over.
Asked if the Celtics saw themselves as “not dead yet,” Rivers stated bluntly, “I didn’t know we were dying.”
Dying? No. Banged up? A little.
Thankfully, with three off days before Saturday’s Game 3 at TD Garden, the C’s have had some time to convalesce. Rajon Rondo had issues with his back in Game 2, while Ray Allen took a LeBron James elbow to the sternum that left a mark. Then there’s Shaquille O’Neal, who has played all of five minutes since February, but is finally expected to play in Game 3.
Shaq didn’t talk to reporters on Friday, but unless something changes between now and Saturday’s tip, The Diesel will be in uniform. How much he can contribute remains to be seen.
“I know what Shaq brings, guaranteed, is size. Other than that, we don’t know what he can give us on the floor,” Rivers said. “There are no saviors. We have to save ourselves as a group.”
Paul Pierce, who left Game 2 with what he originally called a left foot strain but is now being termed an Achilles injury, told reporters he’s feeling better after some ice and electric stimulation treatment and called the strain “minor.” If that’s the case, that means he’ll probably be more of a factor in Game 3 than he was in the first two contests after being tossed from Game 1 and injured early in Game 2.
A quote-seeking reporter asked the obvious question: would a healthy Paul Pierce be able to help the Celtics in the fourth quarter?
“Paul Pierce in the fourth quarter is always going to help the Celtics,” said the captain, channeling his inner Rickey Henderson by name-checking himself, third person style with a laugh attached.
He then tacked on one last word with emphasis: “Healthy.”
Regarding Pierce, Rivers said he needed to find a better way to get him more involved in Game 3. “He got ejected; he didn’t mean to get hurt,” Rivers said. “I don’t think he should put any undue pressure on himself. We’re not going to win it individually.”
Seriously, though, The Truth does expect a more focused effort at home, given the predicament the team is facing. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett said that the team is “all out of lifelines” and it’s going “all in” with “pocket kings.”
Let’s just say that if anyone in Waltham, Mass., was nervous about being down 2-0, they’re wearing their poker faces. But with the deck stacking against them, the C’s will need more than just talk to start dealing themselves back into the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“I expect more heart, more urgency being down 2-0,” Pierce said. “We lost two games down there, but eventually we’ve got to win one down there and hold serve at home if we’re going to win the series.”
To do so, the Celtics need to win four of the next five games, which sounds like a tall order. Then again, this team did beat the Heat three times in the regular season, albeit with a different roster. But perhaps more important than the composition of this Celtics team is it’s composure.
“I like our chances, especially with our backs against the wall,” Pierce said. “Everybody’s got to look each other, look at themselves, and step up.”