NBA Beat Writers: Keys for the Celtics Heading into Game Three

Sean StancillSenior Writer IApril 21, 2009

BOSTON - APRIL 18:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics looks on in the second half against the Chicago Bulls in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on April 18, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics 105-103 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Thanks to the late-game heroics of one Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics managed to steal a game away from the Bulls in their second home game of the 2009 NBA Playoffs.

And all it took for the Celts to win was a triple-double from Rajon Rondo, 26 points and 9 rebounds from Glen Davis, and two insanely-difficult three-point shots made to look routine by Ray Allen. After all that, Chicago still had a chance to win on their final possession.

That said, both teams were victors in the first two games of the series; heavily swayed, in fact, by the absence of Kevin Garnett on the floor for the C's.

As the series heads back to Chicago, here are the keys for the Celtics in Game Three:


Will Paul Pierce Continue To Be Aggressive? 

In Game Two, Pierce attempted six shots in the first half and wound up with ten points before finally resorted back to his old form; he punished smaller defenders by asserting his weight and fading away at the the right moment, knowing the opposition didn't have the size to effectively contest the shot. 

Given Pierce's history in the postseason, I feel severely eldritch saying this, but for the first time all series, Paul Pierce converted on a field goal in every quarter of the game and finished with 18 points and 8 boards. 

However, while this was a welcome sign, Pierce is still clearly playing out of his nature and again made a pedestrian-like eight field goals, while missing the other 11.  He's now shooting 16-40 from the field and has also turned the ball over eight times in the first two games of the postseason.

Perhaps it's the pressure of trying to do too much for his team, or it could be the natural declination of a veteran's play (similar to Ray Allen's postseason in the opening rounds), but Boston can't afford many down nights from Pierce while already missing another star like Kevin Garnett. 


The Ticket Stub:

The Celtics were 14-4 during the regular season when Davis scored 12 points or more, with wins over the the Sixers and Hawks twice and fellow Eastern Conference force, the Orlando Magic

Davis scored 12 first-quarter points on 6-9 from the field and continued his strong output throughout the rest of the game, finishing with a K.G.-like 26 points and 9 rebounds on 12-21 shooting. The most appealing part of Glen "Big Baby" Davis' game is his jumpshot, which starts at about 15 feet and leaks out into the 20-foot range. Davis took four 17-footers, two 18-footers, one 21-footer, and also attempted a handful of 19-footers as well.

If Davis can consistently knock down the mid-range shot, it will help ease the heavy lifting of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen for the remainder of the playoffs.

The Continual Evolution of Rondo:

After Ray Allen finally broke through after a dreadful Game One outing, Glen Davis erupted for a career playoff-high, and Paul Pierce decided to step on the gas, we then have Rajon Rondo.  But not in any particular order.

The third-year guard finished with 19 points, 16 assists, and 12 rebounds and accounted for the C's last eight points, two rebounds, and his final two assists of the night were slugs that landed in the hands of Ray Allen, who nailed both three-pointers including the game-winning tre with :02 remaining to even the series. 

Including last night's game, the Celts' are 3-0 when Rondo posts a triple-double and 17-4 when he dishes out 11 or more assists. It's no secret the 6'1" point guard with a massive 6'10" wingspan is the catalyst for their offense. Last night, he was more aggressive and got to the free-throw line a staggering eight times in the first quarter, well above his average of 3.4 attempts in the regular season.

Furthermore, he drew a foul on three different Chicago Bulls' players: one on Derrick Rose, one on Brad Miller, and two on Kirk Hinrich.

Not to mention the defending champs are 11-3 when Rondo attempts seven foul-shots or more, with wins over the Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, and Jazz.

Throw in the fact that he also had five steals and that his team is +15 on the year when that happens, and you're looking at one of the best postseason performances in the last two years for the Boston Celtics.

He also outplayed Derrick Rose and used his amazing length to hold him to only ten points after he previously exploded for 36 in Game One.

The series between the Bulls and the Celtics resumes on Thursday in the Windy City with the series knotted up at one apiece.