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Celtics struggle with the new math

Boston Coach Doc Rivers doesn't like the numbers of fouls called on the Celtics, but other figures, such as 0-for-13 shooting by Ray Allen, are a bigger problem in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

June 08, 2010|Mark Heisler

From Boston —

Superstars are made on the hallowed parquet floor as when Michael Jordan dropped 63 on the Celtics in the 1986 playoffs and Larry Bird called him "God disguised as Michael Jordan."

This would make this "God, disguised as Derek Fisher."

Actually, this isn't that hallowed parquet floor, which was chopped into pieces and sold when Boston Garden was torn down.

In its place, they built this faux snake pit with leprechaun mascots and the Celtic Dancers, as if paving over Hell and replacing it with a theme park.

In place of the old Celtics, there's this revival that got that elusive 17th banner in 2008, 22 years after No. 16 went up, and called down the thunder one more time in this spring's miracle run to the Finals.

Adding to the wonder, they won Game 2, with two of their old Big Three, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce shooting a combined four for 16.

Then, as if summoning all the demons that haunted the Lakers in the old days, the Celtics wiped all but one point of a 17-point deficit Tuesday night, with two of the Big Three, Pierce and Allen, shooting a combined five for 25.

As the saying goes, it's a make-or-miss league, or in the Celtics' case in this series, a make-or-shoot-bricks league.

Allen, who put the Celtics on his shoulders in Game 2 dropped them in Game 3.

Coming off his 32-point performance with a Finals-record eight threes, he scored two points, going 0-13 from the floor, one miss from another Finals record.

"You know, it's basketball," said Celtics Coach Doc Rivers.

"I thought he was pressing early on some of them, and honestly, I thought all of his shots looked flat tonight. I didn't think he had any legs....

"I just thought he was short on most of his jump shots. Of the 13, I think eight of them were great looks, and all of them were short, all of them were flat. It happens to the best of us."

After Games 1 and 2, which were called tightly officiated with 67 free throws in both, this was more like an NBA game, and a rough one at that, with only 48 free throws.

Nevertheless, with Pierce hampered by early fouls, Rivers, who started the night complaining about the officiating in Games 1 and 2, and finished it complaining about the officiating in Game 3.

"I'm miffed and amazed how the other team complained about the fouls, since we've been the team that's been in foul trouble for two games," said Rivers before the game.

"Maybe they do a different math there or something. I don't get that one."

The way it turned out, Doc didn't like the math they do on the East Coast any better.

"You know, Paul never got a rhythm," Rivers said. "Every time he came on the floor, another whistle blows and he had to sit down. He was completely taken out of the game by the foul calls.

"I'll give [ Ron] Artest credit when he deserves it, but today it was more that Paul Pierce had to sit on the bench. He'd play five minutes, have to go back down, four minutes, have to sit. I mean, he wasn't allowed to play. They didn't allow him to play tonight."

Actually, the only thing Phil Jackson said after Game 2 was that he didn't like the foul calls against Kobe Bryant.

Bryant wasn't allowed to play in Game 2, or, at least, had to come out at a key point in the third quarter after picking up his fifth foul, which, replays suggested, he didn't commit.

In all, Game 3 was a major downer for the Celtics, who left Staples Center feeling great about themselves, with Pierce going

as far to tell Laker fans,

"We ain't coming back to L.A."

He meant they were going to close it out in Games 3, 4 ad 5 here.

Now the only way it can happen is if the Celtics lose them all. That's the math on the East or West Coast.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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