Pierce master of the moment
Experience helped a lot on big shot
MIAMI - Paul Pierce and his Celtics teammates started slowly before rallying for a 94-90 win over the Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night.
But after going 2 for 10 from the field in the opening half, Pierce finished the game 6 for 19, converting what turned out to be a clinching 3-pointer over LeBron James with 52.9 seconds remaining.
“Things are going so fast you kind of play on instincts,’’ Pierce said. “I saw him back up, he gave me a step. I knew it was within my range. The shot clock was winding down - just took a shot. That’s just being in those moments so many times and understanding what your team needs, and being able to concentrate and get the best shot for us.
“I mean, we’re not even thinking about last year, truthfully. Last year happened. We’re focused on the players that are here and what we can do today, right now. This is a whole new ballclub. We came in with the right focus. That was the key for us, I think. I saw it in shootaround, our focus. You kind of could feel it. It was one of those games where we were locked in.’’
Mickael Pietrus, who had 13 points, including two fourth-quarter 3-pointers, and added some key defensive plays for the Celtics, credited Shaquille O’Neal.
“Yesterday, I got a text from Shaq telling me keep believing and keep playing,’’ Pietrus said. “So, that’s what I did.’’
Pietrus’s first 3-pointer came off a Rajon Rondo spiked rebound.
“When Rondo took that rebound and kicked it out to me, I knew I had to take the shot and make it,’’ Pietrus said. “So that’s what I did. I’m very happy the way we’ve been playing defensively and I think it’s up to us to go home and close it out.’’
Said coach Doc Rivers: “One thing you know about MP, is he’s going to shoot it. He’s been down this road before. He played with Orlando, made big shots, had big defensive stops, was very comfortable. The thing I loved, he didn’t hesitate on either one - he actually slowed down a little bit to gather himself and took two big ‘3s’ for us.’’
Rivers had the Celtics preparing with a sense of urgency for Tuesday night’s game.
“We don’t have home court,’’ Rivers said before the game. “It’s not like Philly, where we almost played like we’ve got a game at home - that’s how you felt.
“This is something different. We have to win a game here in order to win the series and we know that. So our urgency, this is Game 7 again. Every Game 5 is Game 7, that’s how I view it. I try to get the guys - all the Game 5s we’ve been in, you’ve got to view it as a Game 7.’’
The Celtics won Game 5 in the first round against Atlanta and in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Philadelphia. In both previous series, the Celtics won once on the road.
Bosh on their mind
Rivers was fully expecting Chris Bosh to play for Miami after missing nine games because of an abdominal strain. But Rivers did not expect to know of Bosh’s availability until the last minute, figuring the Heat would be withholding information.
“It may give you an advantage, especially if you’re not going to play him,’’ Rivers said before Bosh collected 9 points and 7 rebounds in 14 minutes. “A team spends time, wasting time working on if he’s going to play. I would do same thing. I wouldn’t tell you until late.
“I don’t know if it matters one way or the other. Some coaches get all flustered with that stuff. Some of my assistants want to know the starting lineup, and I tell them, ‘You’ll know it. There’ll be five guys out there and then you’ll know it.’ ’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.