Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Celtics connected on 31 of 35 free throws (88.6 percent) during Friday's triumph, getting into the bonus early and often. No one took better advantage than captain Paul Pierce, who got to the charity stripe 13 times (making 12 of those attempts).
"I thought early on we attacked and got in the penalty in both halves quickly," said coach Doc Rivers. "And, honestly, I thought we recognized that a little bit better tonight, and then took advantage of it, instead of staying on the perimeter. We made a big, hard emphasis on attacking the basket. And if we can get in the penalty, we’ve got good foul shooters, let’s get to the foul line. I thought we did a good job of that.”
Added Pierce: “I try to make a concentrated effort every night in getting to the rim. That’s part of my game, I slash to the basket, finish it, try to get some easy ones. That’s why I am able to shoot a high percentage. I was able to get there [Friday], a little more aggression, get into the bonus. Even though my shot didn’t fall [Pierce finished 5-of-14 shooting with 22 points] I was able to get to the line. That’s the way scorers have to do it. When the shot’s aren’t falling get to the line.”
Pierce had been to the free throw line a total of 11 times in the past three games.
A paltry number considering free throws are a critical part of his game and to the Celtics success.
Our research department tells me the Celtics are 7-0 in games where Pierce makes at least 10 free throws. They are 8-3 in games where he takes at least 10 free throws.
Of course it takes energy and desire to attack the basket, something the Celtics don't always bring to the table.
On Page 2, if Shaq is on the plane to Miami, he's playing.
The team has a flight scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said if O’Neal is healthy enough to travel, he’ll play against the Heat in the battle for second seed in the East.
“We’ll talk in the morning. If we don’t think he has any chance, he’s not even going to go on the trip,’’ Rivers said. “Obviously, if he goes on the trip, then we’re telling you.”
The Celtics are 27-9 with O’Neal in the starting lineup. O’Neal started at center for the first two of Boston’s three wins over Miami this season, averaging 7 points, 7 rebounds, and 20 minutes.
The fact the Celtics are even considering Shaq for this game shows they are gunning for the 2nd seed. And I support that decision.
By the time this post publishes, Doc could have already made a decision.
The rest of the links:
Herald – Rondo shows his stuff | Celtics take out aggression | CSNNE – Krstic getting comfortable around basket | Rondo earns redemption | Garnett fueled by failures | West chooses worst time for ejection | Globe – Everything comes up roses for Rondo | Celtics find perfect remedy | ESPN Boston – West apologizes after ejection | Murphy gets some minutes |