“I’ve been a little disappointed in the second unit, because the starters come out and make a lead, and it evaporates really quickly when we start subbing and put the second unit in,” Pierce said after yesterday’s practice. “I was a little upset, because it was like deja vu. Even though you’re up 20, you don’t want to see that continually happen. I just wanted them to know that it’s about competing, and I didn’t feel that they were competing on the high level you need to compete in the playoffs.
“It’s not even about a defensive scheme or an offensive scheme. It’s about competing a little more. That’s what I was most upset about.”
“I think they’re thinking too much,’’ Paul Pierce said of the second unit. “Instead of going out there, playing with reckless abandon and playing scrappy, they’re trying not to mess up. I think if they just play hard and play defense, rebound the ball, be a unit that gives us energy, they’ll be fine. But when they get to thinking about where to be offensively and defensively, they get really hesitant and passive and that’s not a recipe for success.’’
You don't usually hear Paul Pierce calling out teammates like that… so he must really be pissed. Hell, I would be too.
Here you are… up more than 20… you feel like this is a chance to sit down and laugh it up on the bench while your reserves go in there, get some work, and keep the lead. Instead, the bench immediately looks like crap, the lead starts to dwindle, and you've got to come back in to deliver the knock out punch.
And it's not even about minutes or anything at this point. It's about the ability to get the job done. The starters need to know the bench will be there… not just to hold a lead, but to get one if they come out cold and fall behind.
This Knicks series is over. Even if they manage to send it back to Boston, the Miami Heat game plan is being constructed. And part of that game plan includes a supposed matchup advantage on the bench. They're going to have about a week (hopefully, if they finish the sweep today) to figure it out and be the strength they were supposed to be.
Associated Press Photo
On Page 2: It's close out time
They're showing respect for their opponent, saying all the right things about how this series isn't over, and about how tough Sunday's close-out game will be for them.
"We know that Game 4 is as big as Game 1, 2 and 3 was," Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal told CSNNE.com. "Teams can gain confidence. You don't want to give a team confidence. We know they're going to come and play with a lot of pride, backs to the wall."
“Close-out games are difficult because it’s the one game where you tend to let your guard down,” Kevin Garnettsaid. “[They] make you tend to relax versus remembering the things that got you there and how you put yourself in a position to close out.”
The motivation should be simple: Win this game and get almost a week off to get ready for the Heat. Why come out and mail in a game and then have to practice again… and play again… when you can just play hard this one more time and finish the job.
I'm a little bit scared of how good the C's shot in Game 3. I'm afraid they'll settle for the jumpers again early rather than attack the rim and take jumpers that result from that penetration. Of course… if the shots are falling… it won't matter. The Big 3 has never swept a team… this would be a nice place to change that.
The rest of the links:
ESPN: C's ready to bring in the closer | WEEI: No change, Shaq out Game 4 | Herald: Pierce digs playing at MSG | Knicks Donnie Walsh happy, not content | Shaquille O'Neal's afoot | Globe: Ainge's eyes on his stars | Celtics have found the switch | Amare's status uncertain | MWDN: Knicks still ailing