Celtics Notebook

Pierce shows he’s not all talk

Big performance backs up words

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 23, 2010

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Paul Pierce doesn’t regret a word he said coming off the floor at Amway Arena after the Celtics’ Game 2 win. The Celtics swept the first two games on the Magic’s home court and the All-Star and captain told the fans, “See ya’ll next year.’’

Pierce and his teammates were able to put actions behind the words in their 94-71 Game 3 blowout at TD Garden last night. Pierce scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, two more than Magic big man Dwight Howard as the Celtics dug Orlando into a three-games-to-none-hole.

He said part of the talk was just fueling excitement around a game that already had a level of importance that went without saying for both teams.

“I’m a veteran, man,’’ Pierce said. “That stuff is good and it’s for people to read and people to see and all that, but at the end of the day it’s a game. People don’t know I like to play mind games. Sometimes I’m serious, sometimes I’m just kidding. It’s for the fun of the game. You’ve got to love sometimes when you see the back-and-forth talking, but in the right spirit, without disrespecting anybody.’’

After hearing about a tweet from Pierce’s Twitter account that read “Anybody got a BROOM?’’ Howard said, “Pride comes before a fall.’’ Pierce said his account was hacked and after the Celtics’ win he added that while he isn’t opposed to talking trash, he wouldn’t disrespect the Magic like that. He didn’t disagree with the content of the tweet, however.

“I would never disrespect the Orlando Magic’s team and say we’re going to sweep,’’ Pierce said. “That’s not me. That’s not my character. But my character is I that I feel strongly enough to say that this is what we want to do as a team — come win two games at home. I don’t know who I offended, but that’s the goal whether people like to hear it or not — to win two games. And I don’t regret saying that. At the same time I’ve got a lot of respect for that team and what they’ve accomplished.’’

Spreading the wealth
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy blamed himself for not getting his team prepared, and not making the right adjustments, but what’s been difficult for opponents throughout the postseason is that the Celtics don’t have one player to key on.

Five different players have led Boston in scoring in their 14 playoff games. Last night, Glen Davis did it off the bench with 17 points. After coach Doc Rivers spent the regular season preaching about sharing the ball, the Celtics are reaping the benefits in the playoffs.

“As long as we trust it, you know,’’ Rivers said. “We have single guys that could go off, but I’ve never found that to be an effective way to play offense. I think it’s very predictable.’’

The Celtics finished with 23 assists on 34 field goals.

“I mean, that’s just unselfish basketball,’’ Rivers said. “We keep talking about letting the ball find the open guy. You don’t have to find it yourself. The only guy we want dribbling it eight times is Rondo. Other than that, we want ball movement.’’

Taking away the three
Coming into the series, the Magic were one of the most effective 3-point shooting teams in the league and the Celtics were one of the best at defending the 3-point line.

So far, the Celtics have taken away the Magic’s biggest strength, holding them to 20 of 70 in the first three games.

“We know this team is going to put up a lot of threes,’’ said Kevin Garnett. “One thing we want to do is try to take the three away from them. They’re not a good 3-point shooting team, they’re a great three-point shooting team and we know that.

Defense has been the Celtics’ strongest asset in the conference finals. Rajon Rondo said the lapses that used to creep up when teammates missed assignments weren’t there last night.

“Guys were rotating well, especially on Dwight,’’ Rondo said. “We had a couple of lob plays. I don’t think we had any deflections on his lob plays. That was big. Ray [Allen] and Paul, it wasn’t any of “my faults’’ tonight. Everybody was there helping each other off the floor, helping each other in rotations. It was one of our best defensive performances of the year, probably.’’

Bench press
Five months ago, Tony Gaffney was walking around in a boot rehabbing a broken foot. He had bounced from the Lakers training camp to playing ball in Israel before a bad break brought him back stateside.

Two months ago, Oliver Lafayette was a Fort Wayne Mad Ant, taking commercial flights from D-League city to D-League city.

Now, the rookies, picked up days before the end of the regular season, are on the end of the bench for a Celtics team making a run at its second Finals in three years. They are quite possibly, as Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte called them, “the two luckiest people in basketball.’’ To their credit, they both realize as much.

“I didn’t expect to see any of this,’’ Lafayette said. “To get here and just hop on a team like this, it’s a great honor to be here.’’

Michael Vega contributed to this report.

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