Be Aggressive, Be Be Aggressive: What The Celtics Need To Do To Win Game 4

May 16, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner (12) during the fourth quarter in game three of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Arena. The Celtics defeated the Sixers 107-91. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

It's easy to say that the Celtics were just hot in Game 3. Garnett was hitting shot after shot in the pick-and-pop with Rondo. Word from shootaround this morning is that he went to Wells Fargo on the off-day to get some shots up:

Pietrus was 3-4 from distance. Bass was canning his patented baseline jumper.At the beginning the of series, Doug Collins said that he'd concede the jump shot to our bigs. After three games, it was nice to see some of those finally go down for a team that lives and dies with their jump shot, but that's not why the Celtics regained control of the series. They ripped out Philly's heart by driving a stake through it in the paint.

The Captain set the tone early. Check out his shot chart in the first quarter:

Pierce_shot_chart_game_3_medium

I'm not doing his aggressiveness service with a simple shot chart. Let's go with these:

Paul Pierce Dunks On Thaddeus Young (via NBA)

Paul Pierce`s Powerful Slam with the Foul (via NBA)

That's better. The Truth finished the night only shooting 6-14, but his biggest contribution was the 14 trips to the free throw line and his 12 rebounds with 5 of them coming off the offensive glass. After the first quarter on Wednesday, the Celtics had only scored two buckets from the perimeter (one of them included a Rondo three-pointer with the shot clock running down) and were still down 33-28, but it set the tone early.

With Pierce charging hard in the half court, Rondo took over in transition and in the pick-and-roll. Not since his 17-14-12 performance in Game 3 against the Hawks have we seen Rajon this focused. In that game, he was 6-14 at the rim per HoopData.com. In Game 3 vs. the Sixers, RR was 6-9 with an array of scoop and hook shots and made all four free throws. People have harped on him about looking to pass rather than take the easy bucket. On Wednesday night, he was taking AND making (I'm sure I owe Clyde Frazier some royalties now) and that opened up the game for Brandon Bass:

Brandon Bass takes a shot at regaining range

Point guard Rajon Rondo seemed to go out of his way to set up Bass early in Game 2, but it didn't work. In Game 3, Rondo was more determined to get to the hoop and Bass was able to rediscover some rhythm.

"It helps me out a lot when he's aggressive, period," Bass said. "You can tell when he's trying to attack offensively he's also looking for players as well. Either way, whenever he's in attack mode it helps the whole team."

And then there's Ray Allen. His only shot was a transition lay-up in Game 3, but Ray, the consummate pro and teammate, didn't care:

Allen not worried about his shots

"I know (Garnett) at times, he gets tired and it looks like we're really going to him a lot. I want to help him as much as I can," said Allen. "But he told me last night in the locker room, ‘We gotta do whatever we can to get you open.' And I looked at him and I said, ‘Kevin, you're the guy that's getting the shots, you're the guy that's scoring. We just won by 20. I don't need (shots), for the sake of my ego or anything like that. We just have to keep doing what we're doing. If they're going to continue to guard us this way, you gotta keep doing what you're doing, because we're going to keep giving you the ball.'"

"It's the playoffs, so you gotta play to your second and third option, try to get easy baskets," said Allen. "They're trying to take me and Paul (Pierce) out of the game. Paul, yesterday, he attacked early in transition; Rondo attacked in transition, so those plays were tough to stop. All of our set stuff, they're trying to take away. So when I come off screens, they're contributing two guys to me. So to be out there, I have to have some type of impact other than scoring, so I gotta make sure I'm giving help, defensively, on the big guys down low, and definitely rebounding, which has been our Achilles' (heel) all year. In order to win in these playoffs, we have to rebound, and that gives us transition buckets. For us guards, we have to give a more conscious effort on rebounding."

Here are more comments from today's shootaround:

RAY ALLEN: READY TO ‘FALL ON THE SWORD’ AGAIN FOR CELTICS IN GAME 4

Doc Rivers said Friday that when Allen is on the court, the Celtics know one thing, "someone's open." That's Allen's approach as well.

"Most definitely," Allen said. "I just think about what I've been able to do in this league over the course of my career, and be able to be regarded as one of the greatest shooters of all times. Now, it's at the point where it hurts me, being on the floor, because no one wants me to take a shot. I appreciate that respect from opposing players, opposing coaches, fans when I get open always wonder how I got open.

"To be able to use that in the game, in a playoff situation, is a huge weapon. I'm always ready to take the shot and make the shot but I know being out there on the floor does change the complexity of how a team plays defense. It helps with cutting, helps with pick-and-roll coverages. It helps with a lot of things. It's like falling on a sword, you have to do what you have to do to help this team win. It can be frustrating because you want to get in and get involved but the ultimate objective here is for us to win games and move on. That's for me, what I have to do to help this team win."

I'm sure he'd rather be burying shots rather than his ego right now, but I'm betting he goes off tonight. A lot of Doug Collins' post game comments were aimed at shutting down Rondo and Garnett and I can't imagine they'd allow another game with both of them going off. Whether they load up the paint to prevent Rondo's penetration or double with a wing to bother KG, it's going to leave room for Ray (and Pierce) to work the perimeter. There's no doubt that we're going to get Philly's best shot tonight and if it gets close, I'd love to see Ray have a breakout moment in these playoffs. Remember this?:

Ray Allen Fantastic Finish 2-3-09 (via 1218o4)


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