I’m a diehard Celtics fan. To me, Bill Russell is the greatest winner in the history of professional sports, Larry Bird is the messiah, and when the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen back in ’07, I nearly died of excitement.
I may be a Celtics homer, but I’m not an idiot. Rajon Rondo 100 percent deserved to be kicked out of Game 1 against Atlanta, and he most certainly needed to be suspended for Game 2. Don’t tell me one of the most coordinated athletes in the world “lost his balance” and fell into referee Marc Davis. A player cannot bump into an official under any circumstance, and doing so is an immediate ejection and suspension.
The Celtics need to get over the fact that their best player, and probably their best shooter, Ray Allen will not be on the court Tuesday against the Hawks. They can’t come out flat and uninspired like they did on Sunday, and instead need to jump on the Hawks early.
It seemed like the Celtics felt their mere presence would win them the series opener. I don’t think it was rust. They saw that Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL and realized that their road to the conference finals was opening up nicely. At least to start the game, the Celtics looked past Atlanta and took them lightly.
The Celtics need to win Game 2. They don’t have to win, but being down 0-2 against a front-running team like the Hawks would be tough to overcome.
The key to the Celtics winning Tuesday night is Paul Pierce. He cannot play even half as bad as he did on Sunday or the team will be in big trouble.
One of the few positives the Celtics can take from their loss to the Hawks is that Pierce shot 5-19 from the field and 0-6 from behind the arc, yet they still had a chance to win.
The last game Rondo missed, Pierce had a career high 14 assists and was extremely efficient from the field. Instead of settling for jumpers, he attacked the basket and either took it strong to the hole or dished it off to an open teammate.
Pierce needs to be the Celtics playmaker against Atlanta. Avery Bradley has done very well at shooting guard as of late, but point guard is not his natural position. He’s a player that needs someone else to set him up and is not someone who excels at getting others going.
Pierce needs to be a point forward. He is the only Celtics player besides Rondo with the ability to consistently create shots for both himself and his teammates.
In Game 1, Pierce only attempted three free throws, and took far too many contested jump shots. The last game Rondo missed, Pierce attempted 12 free throws, and that kind of aggressive play is exactly what the Celtics need against the Hawks.
The Celtics need to bounce back quickly from their series-opening loss. With Rajon Rondo out, the Celtics need a vintage game from Paul Pierce in order to grab a crucial victory in their playoff series.
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