Posts tagged: Carlos Arroyo
The Boston Celtics don’t want warm weather, and they don’t want nice beaches. They don’t want to be anywhere near the sinful strip of clubs as notorious as any east of Vegas. Eff all the palm trees, too.
The Celtics don’t want any part of Miami. If they step foot in that beautiful, warm city again, they’ll be furious.
“There’s a lot of urgency,” Paul Pierce told ESPNBoston regarding tonight’s Game Five. “We don’t want to go back to Miami. The next time I go to Miami, I hope I’m on vacation. Right now, we’re just trying to get it done at home.”
A sweep is no longer possible, but an easy series is still more than manageable. Nobody in Boston would mind a five-game victory against the Miami Heat to lead the Celtics to the second round. That would afford the old geezers more than enough rest for the second round, where they would likely meet the King on a Mission, Lebron James.
But enough about what could possibly await Boston in round two. The here and now is round one. The Celtics came within a hair of eliminating the Miami Heat in a rare sweep, but Dwyane Wade’s magical shooting hand kept the Heat from the ignominious fate. The Celtics will again have to deal with Wade in Game Five as they try to close out the Heat once and for all.
“Wade scored 46, but he’s Dwyane Wade,” said Doc Rivers. “Shooting 66 percent, that’s the bigger number for us. The 46 we can live with, if [he shoots] 34 percent. … He’s dominating the series and we have to do a better job on him.”
Rivers told the Boston Herald there is no such thing as a Wade stopper.
“If it was that easy, he wouldn’t be Dwyane Wade,” Rivers said. “If I can find a guy in the league that can just keep Dwyane Wade in front of him whenever he wants to, we’re signing him. Hopefully (owner Wyc Grousbeck) has some more money to give and we’re going to go get him. It’s going to be a team effort. It’s not going to be one guy.”
While Wade has done the most damage, Paul Pierce cautions that it’s the contributions of other players that break the Celtics’ backs. Wade is going to get his, but the other guy’s can’t.
“We can’t let the other guys have big games,” said Pierce. “We can’t let [Quentin] Richardson go out here and have a big game, 20 points in the playoffs. Other guys like [Carlos] Arroyo and [Michael] Beasley can’t have big games. Wade’s going to have the ball most of the time, we gotta expect him to have big games because of that. But it’s the other guys. And I’m a big part of that as the guy guarding Quentin Richardson.”
In case you forgot, Q was the warmup act for Wade’s fourth-quarter heroics, scoring 13 points in the first quarter on his way to 20 big ones. “I’m done talking to those guys and going back and forth,” said Richardson, who will shake off a bruised left hand to play in Game Five. “I was here to win the game. He wanted to have a conversation -talk to (your) teammates.”
But Pierce, and the Celtics, don’t want talk to be the story anymore either. Actually, scratch that.
They don’t care what the story is, so long as it ends with anything but a return to Miami.
- NBA.com’s Jon Schuhmann examines the Celtics by the numbers. My breakdown of his article? Offensive rebounds, bad – Defensive rebounds, good. Games Three and Four, bad – Games One and Two, good. And the turnovers, as always, need to be limited.
- Celtics Hub’s Zach Lowe breaks down an x-factor: Dwayne Wade defending Rajon Rondo. Though Wade guarding Rondo ended poorly for the Celtics, they got good shots.
- Red’s Army has video of the lost fourth quarter from Game Two. If you live outside the New England area, you haven’t seen it yet.
- Red Auerbach as Leonardo Da Vinci.
It’s difficult to seriously impact two games while scoring only 18 combined points. It really is. But Rajon Rondo, by virtue of his disruptive defense and court vision sent from above, has done just that.
Rondo’s defensive pressure, in particular, has caused the Miami Heat fits. Things got so bad for that, in the midst of yet another prolonged Celtics run in the second half, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra turned to his assistant and said, “Any other ideas? We can’t bring the ball up against this team.” He later described Rondo’s impact to reporters. (CSNNE)
“He’s an extremely quick and as fast a player as we know,” Spoelstra said. “He’s even more of that in the playoffs. He has great physical gifts, with the quickness. He also has a lot of length. He also has enough experience now that he can be disruptive to what you’re trying to run specifically.”
The Heat, thus far, have been Rondo’d.
Not that they have a definitive plan to stop it. As Spoelstra so nicely put, nothing the Heat has done has worked. They’ve tried putting Dwyane Wade at point guard, but Spoelstra admits, “We don’t want to do it too much where it wears him out.” They’ve tried the normal point guards, Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers, and Rondo sees that as taking candy from a baby. Dorell Wright, according to the Miami Herald, could be the next one given the opportunity to handle the ball. But Spoelstra knows alleviating the pressure isn’t very simple.
“Easier said than done,” Spoelstra said after Thursday’s practice. “But there are adjustments we can make. We’ve been a little predictable the first two games. But we have enough in our playbook to show more versatility. We need a package of everything and to do it under duress when they’re putting pressure on us.’”
Mario Chalmers believes there’s one way to counteract Boston’s dialed-up defensive pressure: Be aggressive.
“Definitely, especially with us being at home,” Chalmers said. “We’ve been sort of robotic. We concentrate too much on trying to work plays all the way through instead of seeing an opening and taking that opening. But you just have to keep fighting.”
Carlos Arroyo agrees that the point guards have to be more opportunistic, and to let loose and have fun.
“You want to be aggressive. You want to make them play us honest. But [the results] have been very disappointing for all of us. We came into this series with a different mind-set, a different type of rhythm. It seems we’ve gotten away from that. We have to find our consistency again, not think so much, have fun and lay it out there.”
Fact of the matter is, in two games in Boston the Heat’s offense was chewed up and spit out. 76.5 points per game. Two ten-point quarters. Brick after brick, turnover after turnover. Almost sad, isn’t it?
Not for Boston, though. The Heat’s minimal offensive output is as good an indicator as any that the C’s have refocused their energy on that side of the court. The Celtics can only hope that the series’ change in venue won’t harm their defense that has finally begun to regain shape as one of the league’s finest after four months of hibernation.
If the C’s defense is to remain impenetrable, even in the South Beach heat, Rondo will be a big reason why.
The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Dan Duggan, Boston Herald - “If Garnett’s suspension provided one unintended positive, it was a vastly improved second unit in yesterday’s practice. ‘I knew the second-team defense was a mother today,’ Rivers said. ‘To the point I told (Garnett) to sit down in some parts of practice. I needed him to go away so we could get some offensive confidence. We were laughing how good the defense on the second unit was today until we realized Kevin was on the second unit. That’s how good he is.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Losing Garnett, though, presents problems on both ends. In the 11 regular-season games Garnett missed, the Celtics allowed an average of 99.7 points. ‘The last time Kevin was out, scoring went up for the other team drastically,’ Rivers said. ‘We can’t have that happen. They’re too good of an offensive team, Miami. If you allow them to score points with the way they play defense, then we’re in trouble. We have to somehow be as good defensively for one game, just without Kevin.’ Much of what the Celtics do offensively goes through Garnett. Once he’s off the floor, the Heat don’t have to stress as much about monitoring him. ‘That’s my biggest concern,’ Rivers said. ‘It was not a high-scoring, offensive game to start with. You lose [Garnett’s] 15 points. But more importantly you lose all the picks, all the post-ups where they had to trap, all the attention that he got where they had to overload. That’s taken out and that’s big, so we’re going to have to try to find points somewhere.’”
Frank Dell’Apa, Boston Globe – “But the Heat plan to concentrate more on direct attacks to the basket, even when Garnett returns. ‘I think we need to be that way whether he’s playing or not,’ Richardson said. ‘They’ve still got some big guys: Rasheed [Wallace], [Kendrick] Perkins, and [Glen] Davis. Whether [Garnett’s] going to be there or not — obviously, he’s their difference-maker and things like that — we need to play the way we need to play [tonight], even after [tonight]. He’ll be back and we’ll need to be aggressive.’ Miami’s Dwyane Wade was not surprised by Garnett’s suspension. Asked if the Heat would have an easier time against the Celtics in Garnett’s absence, Wade said: ‘I’m not going to say easier. This is a good defensive team no matter who’s in the game. KG didn’t play all 48 minutes the other night, so with KG being out it brings a different game, a different style — it doesn’t make it easier. It’s unfortunate it happened. But we’re moving on with the game plan, the same way we do no matter who’s playing. It’s going to be a tough game for both teams. We understand this is a tough team. I know last year he didn’t play every game and we only beat them once. It’s not about one guy on this team — that’s why they’re a good team and they’ve won a championship. It’s because it’s more guys who always step up.’”
Paul Flannery, WEEI – “‘In the first game a lot of our open shots came off Kevin being involved in the play,’ Rivers said. ‘That’s my biggest concern. It’s not a high-scoring offensive game to start with, it loses us 18 points, but more importantly it loses all the picks, all the post-ups, all the attention that he got where they had to overload and we lose that. That’s big.’”
Dan Duggan, Boston Herald – “But there is the question of who will take the place of the suspended forward. The options are Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, though Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn’t tipping his hand after yesterday’s practice. ‘They’re completely different players,’ Rivers said. ‘Sheed gives us more size, he gives us a better post player and he spreads the floor. Baby gives you energy, Baby moves his feet a little bit better on the (Michael) Beasley matchup. They’re just so completely different, that’s what makes the decision so difficult. It would be easy if they were similar. But they’re not, so it’s tougher.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Rajon Rondo said, ‘I think Baby’s starting, but we’ve just got to get the job done. Baby’s ready to play, Rasheed’s ready to play, so is Shelden [Williams].’ Wallace had one of his best night’s this season, a 16-point nine-rebound fill-in job for Garnett who sat out the Celtics 112-106 win over the Heat Jan. 6 with a hyperextended right knee. ‘We’re all interchangeable,’ Davis said. ‘I’ve been lucky to have experience in the playoffs at a starting position. Sheed’s been blessed enough to be in this league successful at the power forward position. So any one of us can really start. It all depends on how the coach wants it.’”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “‘It don’t matter,’ Wallace said. ‘As long as I’m in there in that fourth quarter. I don’t care if I start. I don’t care if Doc brings me off the bench.’ Whoever gets the start will have their hands full with Beasley. While the second-year forward was a non-factor (six points, eight rebounds) in Boston’s 85-76 Game One win, the C’s anticipate Miami will try to get him more involved in Game Two. ‘I’m sure they’ll go to Michael Beasley more,’ Rivers said. ‘That’ll be an obvious adjustment without Kevin. You take Kevin off the floor, usually the guy he was guarding is the guy who gets the ball more. And Michael Beasley is a terrific offensive player.’”
Rich Levine, CSNNE – “The player who stands, at least on paper, to benefit most from Garnett’s suspension is second-year power forward Michael Beasley. As the team’s second leading scorer, Beasley is counted on as Wade’s right hand man. But he’s had a maddeningly inconsistent season; a trend that continued in Game One, where Beasley only scored six points in 32 minutes. ‘I’m gonna be more aggressive, point blank,’ Beasley said. ‘I thought that if I had been more aggressive, we’d have had a better chance of winning the game. I’m not gonna force anything, or try to overdo myself, but I’m gonna be a more aggressive and try to put some pressure on the rim.’ Even more so without Garnett chasing him around? ‘Honestly, I had my mind made up before KG was out,’ Beasley said. ‘With or without KG — Game Three, Game Four — I’m gonna be aggressive. My game’s not gonna change at all.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “Though he clearly seemed ready to react again in such circumstances, KG said the right things when asked what lesson he would take away from the incident. ‘To always keep a cool head and always understand that a cool head always prevails,’ he said. ‘Period, point-blank. You know, you try to pull something out of it and then apply it. I’m sure I will do just that.’ And he believes the Celts will succeed in his absence tonight. ‘I’m sure everybody has to look at themselves and say what they’re going to bring to this game,’ he said. ‘It was a lot of fire today, a lot of energy in the building. I guess everybody’s pretty much ready for Game 2. I have a lot of faith in how we prepare, how we practice. When you see our practices, you see how hard we go. Especially with the energy we had today, it gives me like a foresight or whatever to Game 2. I’m looking forward to see how we play.’”
Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo! Sports – “K.G. needs help, now. He’s still a borderline All-Star, per-minute. He’s still the biggest reason why Boston was ranked in the top three in defensive efficiency for most of the season. He can still hit the jumper, he can still crash the boards and he can still cover big stretches of the court in a way that would make a 23-year-old colt shake his head in wonder. But he’s nowhere near the K.G. we saw dominate this league in 2003-04 or dominate defensively in 2007-08. And he’s the first person to see this because he’s got a first-hand glance at just how far away that rim is compared to where it used to be when he tried to jump real high. Whether he wants to talk about it or not, yeah, K.G. knows. Cornered by his own increasing frailties, Garnett lashes out. He didn’t need to throw that elbow. He didn’t need to have Paul Pierce’s(notes) back. He doesn’t need any of this, but he presses on. And he loses more and more fans — hell, more and more admirers in the process.”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “Collectively these are the things that win basketball games. They also were the things that weren’t in evidence consistently this season when the Celtics repeatedly were hitting the snooze button on the green alarm clock. ‘Those are always big plays,’ Doc Rivers said. ‘It’s not just the scoring plays or the ones everyone can see. To me, all that comes down to effort and playing hard and having great focus. If you’re focused in a game, you’re always cutting and running hard. You see an open area, and you cut. That’s focus and effort. ‘We were on that every day during the season,’ added the Celtics coach, who left out the “to no avail” part. ‘Every day. We did that a lot in Game 1, and if we can continue to do that, we’re going to be tough. And if we don’t do that, we’re beatable.’”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “Miami point guard Carlos Arroyo said Allen is right near the top of concerns for the Heat in this playoff series. ‘He’s a big key to what they do,’ Arroyo said. ‘Him coming off screens, it’s very tough. He makes it difficult for any defense. He’s a player that you have to respect his shooting and his ability to put it on the floor and make things happen.’ Richardson agreed. ‘That’s somebody that you look up to in this league,’ Richardson said. ‘And see as an example of what you need to do to keep going strong. Because he’s definitely not slowed down running off all those screens and people trying to chase him, and still gets up and dunks the ball.’ And as far as the talk about Allen being too old, Richardson chuckled, ‘I don’t know if any of that applies to him, as far as the aging and stuff like that. He’s pretty ageless right now, to me.’”
Israel Gutierrez, Miami Herald – “Richardson, who turned 30 last week, isn’t sure if those experiences made him any tougher. Maybe more insightful. ‘It just puts everything in perspective,’ he said. You would think a player with this much grit, who’s held in such high esteem by teammates, was made for the playoffs. He might be, but in his 10 years in the league, this is just his second trip. His only previous one was a lengthy, 15-game postseason stay with the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns. Maybe that’s why Richardson didn’t take to Pierce’s dramatics or Kevin Garnett’s antics very well in Game 1. All that pent-up competitiveness had to be released. The truth is, Richardson has all the characteristics of a winning teammate. He won a starting job that wasn’t necessarily his to win. He helped make this Heat team one of the franchise’s best in terms of internal chemistry. He’s the team’s most consistent perimeter defender, and he happens to contribute actual numbers. ‘My whole thing is I know that I’m a winner,’ Richardson said. ‘And I know in the NBA it’s a league where there could only be one champion, but I never lost that about myself, that I’m a winner and I play with a winning attitude.’”
Glen Davis trampolined off the floor, somersaulting to his feet and landing with a fit of flexed muscles and vein-popping screams. He’d been knocked to the ground while powering through Jermaine O’Neal but, just like the rest of his team, Davis showed that getting knocked down was nothing but another excuse to bounce back up. Davis’ and-one continued a Celtics run that would later reach 27-7, and gave Boston a 71-68 lead it would never relinquish in an 85-76 win.
For awhile, especially early in the third quarter, the Celtics’ season flashed before their eyes. A loss wouldn’t quite have spelled disaster, but would have been the best indication yet that this campaign was destined to end in an early vacation. It wasn’t just that they were losing; it was that they were losing with the same shoddy effort that characterized the entire season. As Miami’s lead stretched to 14 and the Celtics reverted to the miscues that haunted their first 82 games, the Boston Garden’s excitement drained to boos.
With the air filled with and a heartless atmosphere all too reminiscent of the last four months, an odd thing transpired, something that we’ve discussed quite frequently but never fully believed would happen: The Celtics flipped the switch.
The change was evident in every facet of the game, but nowhere was it as visible as on the defensive end. At times, as the Heat scored merely 10 points during the game’s final 13:50, the Celtics seemed to play seven on five. Tony Allen smothered Dwyane Wade, and the cohesion of the rest of the unit was palpable. When a Heat player saw an opening, it was closed instantly. Jumpers were contested with outstretched arm, and penetration lanes closed rapidly. Beautiful, the Celtics defense was. Hell, they even started to rebound the basketball.
And everything, the gorgeous rotations and wondrous escape from that good ole 14-point deficit, will be overshadowed — at least slightly — by a late-game fracas starring Kevin Garnett and Quentin Richardson. As Paul Pierce lay on the ground, injured, exaggerating or both, Richardson and Garnett started chirping at each other. Harsh words, I’m sure, were spoken and the words escalated to actions. Richardson brushed against Garnett’s body, and Garnett’s left arm shot out behind him and into Richardson’s jaw. As the two teams yelped back and forth, saying a lot but doing very little, Pierce laid on the ground, still injured or exaggerating. He would be fine and stay in the game, but the melee resulted in Garnett’s ejection and a technical foul for Richardson. Garnett’s elbow, while lacking in severity, could put his status for Tuesday night’s game in jeopardy; the NBA league office, I’m sure, will review the incident and decide whether Garnett’s actions warrant a suspension for Tuesday.
The weak brawl will also overshadow some individual performances worthy of merit. Tony Allen’s was one, as he played his best game as a Celtic. Not only did he score 14 points, but he stayed attached to Dwyane Wade’s hip during the second half as the Heat’s momentum slowed to a screeching halt. And you can’t say enough about Rajon Rondo. The flu couldn’t keep him down, and Carlos Arroyo certainly couldn’t. 10 points, 10 assists, and 7 boards for Rondo: just his normal playoff near-triple double.
Three other players stood out while watching, but wouldn’t stand out in the stats. Garnett, before his dismissal, looked as active and mobile as he has since returning from injury this season. He finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds and a few powerful dunks, spear-heading the C’s second-half clampdown in the process. When Garnett was on the bench resting, Glen Davis (8 points, 8 rebounds) took his spot and did him proud. Davis pounced on every rebound, wrestling balls away from opponents who didn’t want it as badly as Davis did. He missed a layup or two and was blocked on a couple other, but nonetheless was integral to the C’s charge. He played so well, in fact, that he finished the game in Kendrick Perkins’ spot. And Paul Pierce, though he shot only 4-12, laced together a few consecutive hoops to help bring the Celtics back from the verge of fishing plans.
The beginning wasn’t pretty, and the Celtics played an average offensive game. But it was the return to the basics, to the style that once made us so proud to call them our own, that showed so much promise.
For while a game one, first-round win means little in the long run, there was something in the Celtics’ resolve — something in their play — that suggested tonight could be the beginning of something greater.
I’ve never been so confused heading into a postseason. Should I have hope? Should I have given up a long time ago? Do the Celtics have another gear? Will they lose in the first round? Win a championship? Somewhere in between?
Anything could happen tonight. Anything. And that’s what makes watching sports so fun.
Here’s a breakdown of the first-round matchups. Enjoy Game One tonight, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs. Carlos Arroyo
It’s a waste of my time to write why this is a mismatch. Rondo is one of the most electric players in the NBA, while Arroyo is mediocre at best. Rondo can lead his teams to victories, while the only thing Arroyo can lead his team in is prayer. Even if Rondo’s puking on the floor because of his illness, he should be able to run circles around Arroyo.
But there is a twist: Doc Rivers said he expects Rondo to be defended by Dwyane Wade. Either way, no matter who’s defending Rondo — and I feel that way about any player in the league, not just the players Miami can offer — he should have his way so long as he stays aggressive.
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade
Wade, simply put, is a monster. He’s a beast, a creature, an animal, whatever you want to call him. The Celtics will not be able to stop him, no matter who they throw at him. Ray could play terrific defense and still get torched. Ray’s job will be to contain Wade, make things difficult, and hopefully limit him to 30 ppg or so. Against Wade, that’s all you can ask for.
On the other end, if Ray gets hot he has the ability to switch a series on its side. When Ray drains three-balls left and right, the Celtics are a different team, a better team. Of course, Ray usually gets hot when the Celtics are playing their best. It’s like a chicken-or-the-egg type thing. But I don’t care what comes first; I just want to hear the sweet sound of Ray’s jumper splashing through the bucket, time after time.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce vs. Quentin Richardson
This is where the Celtics have their biggest advantage. Richardson couldn’t hold Pierce’s jock strap if someone laid it in his hand. Not that he’d want to, anyway, but still. If Pierce is healthy, and his recent output says that he is, he should murder Richardson. On the other end, Richardson won’t be much of a threat.
Power Forward: Kevin Garnett vs. Michael Beasley
The single most important matchup in the series. If Garnett was 2008 Garnett, this would be no contest. Not only would Garnett score at will, but Beasley wouldn’t do anything all series. Unfortunately, this is 2010, and Garnett’s a shell of his former self. Beasley is now tough for Garnett to keep up with, because Beasley has speed to take advantage of KG’s ever-dwindling mobility.
Still, Garnett should be able to score over Beasley at will. If Garnett is aggressive in the post, this is a matchup that should really favor him. Beasley doesn’t have the height or defensive chops to stick with an aggressive KG.
Center: Kendrick Perkins vs. Jermaine O’Neal
Neither of these guys will get much offense run for them. Both are there for height, defense, and rebounding. Perkins, surprisingly, has killed the Heat so far this season, but Doc Rivers and Perk both attribute that to the Heat helping off Perk and not the matchup. This matchup should be a wash. Neither guy will light the world on fire, but both will be solid.
The Celtics are deeper and vastly more talented. On paper, that is. On the court, their Heat counterparts might have outplayed them. Udonis Haslem is a good sixth man, Dorell Wright is starting to come into his own, and Joel Anthony, well, takes up space. For the Celtics, inconsistency is the name of the game. And someone needs to tell Sheed, “Playoffs don’t lie.”
The Heat don’t have enough to take down Boston. Not in four games out of seven, not in the playoffs. Dwyane Wade is an unstoppable force, but doesn’t have enough help to take down the Celtics, no matter how old and ragged they have looked. The Celtics may not have a flip to switch, but won’t need it against Miami.
Celtics in 6