C's Upbeat with Home Court Stolen

WALTHAM, Mass. - It’s amazing how quickly momentum and demeanors can change in the NBA playoffs.

On Monday morning, after having lost Game 1 in Atlanta and Rajon Rondo to suspension for Game 2, the Boston Celtics appeared to have dug themselves a hole, both in the series (down 1-0) and in their own psyches.

But after a classic Paul Pierce performance and an all-around team defensive effort stole Game 2 and home court advantage, the team was all smiles Thursday morning in Waltham, Mass., when they held pre-practice media availability. Having dodged a bullet, the always upbeat Doc Rivers seemed more confident about Ray Allen’s chances of playing in his first playoff game, while Rondo played it coy with the media when asked where he watched Game 2.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce was exasperated here in Game 2 when he was called for an offensive foul while diving for a loose ball, but the team's mood was much lighter on Thursday as they returned home to Boston with a tied series, and home court advantage in their back pocket. Three of the next five possible games will played at TD Garden.
Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty

Seeing as the suspension didn’t cost the Celtics a victory, Rondo had been let off the hook. While he never offered a full-on mea culpa, he briefly admitted that his emotions got the better of him.

“It was the heat of the moment. I wanted to win. People make mistakes,” Rondo said.

Slightly more loquacious, Ray Allen told reporters he planned to practice Thursday, and then made it through the 90-minute session without incident. He’s still a game-time decision for Friday, but completing a full practice is a huge step in the right direction.

Asked if he would play, Allen said confidently, “I’m optimistic. I’m an optimistic person, period.”

Allen later joked that people come up to him on the street with all sorts of crazy remedies for his ankle woes, from medicinal red clay to God knows what else. He said he appreciates the concerns from family and fans, and also noted that it’s even more meaningful when his teammates check up on him. For a guy who takes such pride in maintaining his body in peak condition, it has to be tough for Allen to accept not being able to play, especially in the postseason. But his light demeanor seemed to indicate a return to normalcy.

And then there’s Paul Pierce.

The Captain is a man of many moods, and at times, he gets annoyed when reporters don’t have anything new to ask him. Some days he doesn’t feel like answering the same questions he took one day prior. At the same time, he understands the job that comes with his role, and as such, he rarely disappoints when the media needs him.

Thursday, when approached by reporters looking for comment, Pierce first declined interviews, then pretended to acquiesce for a moment, allowing a crowd to form around him. He then back-peddled with his a basketball in tow.

“What, are you all bored?” Pierce asked, laughing.

After some banter back and forth about reporters not having anything interesting to ask, Pierce returned his attention to the basket.

"I'll tweet today if you need more material," he said, with a Cheshire cat’s grin.

As of late Thursday afternoon, @paulpierce34 was silent. But what else is there to say? The series is tied, and three of the next five games will be in Boston. The Celtics are sitting pretty until Friday night. So it’s all good for now.

We’ll take their temperature again around 10 p.m. tomorrow night.