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News » Celtics are close-minded for Game 6

Celtics are close-minded for Game 6

Celtics are close-minded for Game 6
WALTHAM - Call it the first Game 6 1/2 in NBA history.

The Celtics and Bulls have participated in the lengthiest five-game playoff series ever, twice going to overtime and once to double overtime. That's an extra 20 minutes of playing time. And the extra sessions, combined with the excessive intensity caused by tight games, could start to take a toll.

The Bulls could be favored by the circumstances, because of their youth, athleticism, and better health. But the Celtics have three starters 24 or younger (Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, and Rajon Rondo), and veterans Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have been the team's most durable players this season.

After the Celtics' 106-104 overtime win Tuesday for a 3-2 series lead, Pierce seemed eager for tonight's visit to Chicago, pointing out players grew up playing ``three or four games a day.''

``It would be great to close out this thing in Chicago,'' he said. ``I think we could use a little bit of rest. Who knows, if Orlando closes theirs out in the same period of time, we could be playing in a few days. It would be great to finally get this over with.

``We're just more mentally dragging than physically. You know, with the overtimes, the 2-point games. No team has gotten the edge. Every game is a nail-biter, and it gets you mentally as well as physically. It is definitely one of the more physical, mentally draining series that I've probably ever been a part of. I think the overtime games and the way no team has been able to come out and have a certain edge. Besides the one blowout game [a 107-86 win in Game 3] we had, it's just been 2-point games, 3-point games, and no real definitive team showing any separation.''

The symbolic play of Game 5 was a Rondo foul on Bulls center Brad Miller with two seconds remaining in overtime. Miller said he felt like he'd been punched in the mouth, and missed the potential tying foul shots. But there was plenty of grabbing and pushing and even kicking of opponents in the game.

``I'm a little sore, I'll use [yesterday] to recover,'' said Pierce, who absorbed a kick to the left calf. ``Get some treatment, get a massage, rest, things like that. I'll be ready for [tonight]. It's a little sore but it's better than it was [Tuesday]. It's nothing more than a light bruise on the calf muscle, so some ice should be able to take care of it.

``That's the way the playoffs are played. The refs aren't going to give you anything, they're going to make you earn everything. And that's the way it should be. The refs are doing a great job, letting both teams play, and that's what's making it an exciting series. You've always got to expect the playoffs to be tough. You really didn't expect to have three overtime [games]. You knew it would be a tough series, especially the way the Bulls played down the stretch of the regular season, we knew they would be a tough opponent. Hopefully, we can end this the next game. This has definitely been a great series from a player's standpoint, and from a fan's standpoint. I'm definitely a fan of the game and I think it's enjoyable for everybody. If it goes six or seven, hopefully we'll come out on top.''

Allen received more rest than expected in Game 5 after fouling out with 5:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. Conversely, Perkins, who fouled out of Game 4, did not commit a foul in 48 minutes of playing time in Game 5.

``I took all his fouls,'' Allen said of Perkins. ``They had to go somewhere. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know whether it was or wasn't a foul. But it's important for us to focus on the game. After they make the call, we just have to adjust to what they're calling.

``A lot has been said about the minutes played. But Perk is a young guy. We've been preaching to these guys - you never know when you will have to play 48 minutes, or overtime. If he has to play 48 minutes, sometimes it calls for that, and you just have to be ready.''

Celtics president of Basketball operations Danny Ainge, who suffered a mild heart attack on the eve of the series, attended Tuesday's game. He saw the latest installment in a series of increasing drama.

``Typically, the format of playoff Basketball has been you win on your floor, maybe 4 or 5 points,'' Allen said. ``Then, you go on their floor and they win, maybe 4 or 5 points, then you adjust. It's like a 7- or 8-point gap, you're right there, close. But [each] game could have gone either way. The third game was the one that was decisive but the other four games could have gone either way. That's what makes it exciting to watch.

``I'd like to get it over with. I don't like the agony. I felt like Danny Ainge a little bit, just having to watch from the sidelines. You can give input but you still have to watch. So many people I've encountered have told me they almost had to be admitted to the hospital watching us play. And I felt that way [Tuesday] night. It's not a great feeling when you have no control.''

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at f_dellapa

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 30, 2009


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