Anybody else tired of hearing that the Celtics can't close on the road? How many times did they have to put up that stat during Game 6 on Wednesday? Well, here's a new one: after failing to close out a team away from the Garden, the Celtics are 6-0 in The Big Three era when Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo play on the parquet. Their only blemish under similar circumstances was against the Orlando Magic in 2009 without Garnett in the lineup for the entire post-season. 6-0. There's something about playing in front of the home fans. Maybe they can explain it:
The Big 3 on the Garden Crowd (via bostonceltics)
Somebody always steps up and it's usually The Captain. Feeding off the Garden crowd, Pierce has averaged over 23 points per game with none better than his mano-a-mano duel with Lebron in 2008. He scored 41 points in that game but I'll always remember that loose ball he grabbed at mid-court and Red Auerbach tipping in that game-clinching free throw.
The King Vs The Truth: LeBron James Vs Paul Pierce 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals (via BostonCelticsTv)
Now, Ray's admittedly struggling against Philadelphia, but they've been sagging off him to help on KG and Pierce and daring him to catch fire:
"There was a little more cushion there, which was good," said Allen. "I felt like I got into more rhythm, so we'll see how it goes."
Though he missed early, and finished the night 4-for-11 from the floor, including 1-for-5 from downtown, Allen did find his range late in the game with a pair of deep jumpers, including his only 3-pointer, when the Celtics were in scramble mode.
Allen hopes that at the very least, this is a start.
"They felt great," Allen said of those last two shots. "That's why I was excited about it. Even coming to the game I thought my body was in a good place.
"Every shot is the next shot that I'm going to knock down," he said. "I never let my mind drift to where I think I'm out of it, or I can't get into it. (Wednesday) felt like that night. Offensively for all of us, we can't predetermine what's going to happen, because we've seen them guard us a couple of different ways."
I can understand why Doug Collins is gambling against Ray. He's hurt and really hasn't shown the ability to string together four good quarters, but it's important to point out that he was in foul trouble in Game 6. If I'm Philly, I'm wary that he might be feeling a little more rhythm. Ray's been a pretty awesome closer in the past, too. Anybody remember that epic seven game series in 2009 with the Bulls? Ray shot over 46% from the 3-point line (27-58) in the series and scored 23 points in Game 7.
Of the Big Three, most of the attention is going to be on KG. He's been their most reliable offensive option in the post season. KG's said that he doesn't read the papers, but everybody knows that that's not true and all anybody's been talking about is how he shied away from the paint in Game 6. All that criticism is just adding fuel to the fire. A lot of NBA players talk about how they'd rather play as a visitor and how they'd rather silence a road crowd. I don't think that's true in Garnett's case. KG is just so plugged in when he's at the Garden. In close out games at home, he's averaging 18 and 11 and shooting better than 53%. It'll be interesting to see him tomorrow in pre-game. He's been very coy about his plans for next season so realistically, this could be his final game in not only Boston, but the NBA. I can't imagine that he doesn't go down swingin'.
Kevin Garnett Hangs & Banks in the Circus Shot (via NBA)
#Celtics guard Rajon Rondo on this team always finding a way to get it done: "We haven't done it yet. But we will tomorrow."— Scott Souza (@scott_souza) May 25, 2012
And then there's Rondo. He's had some sparkling games in these playoffs with two triple-doubles and four games with only one turnover. On the other hand, he's also been suspended and under constant criticism about setting the pace and being aggressive on offense. The tempo he brings to each game might be in question, but he has consistently brought his A-game after a poor outing. After missing Game 2 against the Hawks, he responded with a ridiculous 17-14-12 line. In this series, after letting Jrue Holiday get the best of him in Game 2, he came back with a vengeance in Philadelphia scoring 23 points and dishing out 14 assists in a blowout. He's yet to have that signature Game 7, but seems primed to tomorrow night.
Rajon Rondo`s Triple-Double Drops the Hawks (via NBA)