Celtics say they'll be all right
Despite losing several players -- and control of series -- Boston still confident
ORLANDO -- Defiant as team trainers tried to help him off the court following a Dwight Howard elbow that left him concussed in the third quarter of Wednesday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, Celtics forward Glen Davis remained contumacious as the media invaded Boston's locker room after Orlando's 113-92 triumph.
"I'm all right," Davis said emphatically as he stormed past cameras en route for the exit. "I'll be back next game. [Expletive]. That's all you need to print."
While the rest of the room was decidedly less surly about the matter, Davis unintentionally summed up the mood of a Boston team punched in the jaw and left scrambling to pick up its teeth (quite literally, as Howard's elbow dislodged at least one of Davis' chompers, which Amway Arena staff collected as he was being attended to).
The Celtics say they'll be all right. They'll be back next game. That's all you need to know.
On a night in which two Celtics emerged with concussions, two others tweaked injuries and another earned what could be a game-and-a-half suspension, Boston lost its stranglehold on this best-of-seven series, which shifts back to the Hub with the Celtics clinging to a now-tenuous 3-2 advantage.
Yet the players oozed a quiet confidence in the face of mounting adversity.
"It is what it is," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce, whose own right shoulder stinger flared after Howard crashed down on him in the third quarter. "We're not a team that's going to look around and say, 'Woe is me.' We've got a job to take care of. Our goal is to win one more game and end this series, regardless of who we put out there. One guy goes down, or two guys go down, it's got to come from everybody. We've just got to be ready to step up."
If nothing else, it can't possibly get much worse for Boston than Wednesday night. Already ruffled from a barrage of whistles that helped the Magic take control in the early going, the Celtics' problems only grew from there.
Little more than an hour after Rivers talked to the press about Kendrick Perkins' need to avoid technical fouls as he inched dangerously close to the league's postseason limit, Boston's center picked up the two he needed to reach that threshold, earning an automatic ejection from Game 5.
Perkins registered a double technical with Marcin Gortat late in the second quarter -- his fifth double technical of the postseason -- and then got tossed 36.1 seconds before intermission for arguing a call with trigger-happy referee Eddie F. Rush.
The NBA said it plans to review both technical fouls and expects to have a ruling on whether either will be rescinded by early Thursday afternoon. If the infractions stand, Perkins will be suspended for one game (Friday's Game 6) since he has received seven technicals this postseason.
He might not be the only one to miss Game 6.
Both Davis and Marquis Daniels endured second-half concussions, leaving them questionable for Friday's pivotal matchup. Rasheed Wallace scored a team-high 21 points but complained of back spasms after fouling out late in the game. He didn't offer an update on his status and declined to talk to reporters after the game.
"It's not a pleasant thought," admitted Rivers, who maintained his sense of humor, even when discussing the possibility of being shorthanded in Game 6.
"Rasheed tweaked his back on that one play. Baby, I guess, I don't know what kind of test they're going to do with Baby because he's a little delirious half the time anyway, so I don't know how he's going to pass a test. I'm worried about that. But I guess he's going to have to do something for them to clear him. Then Marquis too, so it is what it is."
Davis aside, much of the Celtics' locker room seemed somber yet focused on the task at hand. They've used their mulligans, yet none of them are quite ready to break out their golf clubs just yet.
"We are upset and we don't take losing lightly around here," said Kevin Garnett. "This is not something we would like to adopt around here. Each guy has to look at themselves in the mirror, and as a team, we have to get this together and figure this thing out."
The physical carnage made it somewhat easy to overlook the fact that the Magic shot 52.2 percent from the floor and nearly as well from beyond the 3-point arc (13-of-25, 52 percent). Orlando scored 31 first-quarter points, built a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter, and never let Boston back in the game thanks in large part to the freedom Howard enjoyed without resistance around the basket.
Now, far removed from the comforts of a 3-0 series lead, the Celtics find themselves staring at the same 3-2 lead that evaporated last season against the Magic.
But the Celtics didn't display any panic after the game. Just that cool confidence and businesslike demeanor.
"We've been here before, it's nothing new," said Ray Allen. "It's nothing that worries me. This is basketball, this is what it's all about, being resilient and being there for your teammates. This is what we do."
Echoed Garnett: "Today was a real tough day. There were just a lot of things going on. It was a difficult day, but it's not like it's something we haven't seen before. We have handled different situations before in our past, so this would be no different.
"This isn't going to be easy. I have always said that the toughest games are the first one and the closeout. We have to continue to grind and do the things we've been doing. We have to watch [Thursday], better ourselves, and apply it to our next game."
The Celtics say they'll be all right. They'll be back next game. You already knew that.
Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.