Commentary

Three Game 3 thoughts on C's-Heat

Updated: April 23, 2010, 11:56 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

As the Celtics-Heat series shifts to Miami on Friday for Game 3 of the teams' first-round Eastern Conference series, here are three thoughts with Boston holding a 2-0 advantage:

Rest assured KG's rested

Having sat out two of Boston's final three regular-season games and Game 2 of the Heat series (suspension), Kevin Garnett has played just two games since April 10 for a total of 61 minutes of court time. (By comparison, Rajon Rondo has logged 185 minutes over five games -- and battled the flu -- in that same span.)

[+] EnlargeKevin Garnett
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast Kevin Garnett has played in just two games with 61 minutes of court time since April 10.

So what can we expect in terms of production? If his regular-season numbers are any indication, Garnett will have his A-game in Game 3. Eight times during the regular season, Garnett played with three or more days of rest and he responded by averaging 15.3 points over 30.8 minutes -- a modest bump above his season averages (14.3 points, 29.9 minutes). It's a small sample size, but Garnett's steals and offensive rebounds both increased on long rest as well.

Rasheed Wallace noted earlier in the week that Garnett's suspension wasn't all bad given the break it provided.

"I'm glad that he's rested a little bit," said Wallace. "I hate that it had to happen like this, but Kevin needs to rest a little bit. It's a long haul and he's been going hard all season without much of a break."

Garnett missed 13 games during the regular season, including a 10-day absence because of a hyperextended right knee sustained in late December. His play was uneven after returning and he looked a step slow at times on both ends of the floor. Though he improved late in the season, Garnett struggled mightily in an embarrassing home loss to the Wizards on April 9 and sat out two games against Milwaukee over the final week of the season.

Despite all the rest, Celtics coach Doc Rivers isn't sure if Garnett can raise his typical intensity any higher.

"I don't know if Kevin can get more fired up," Rivers said after Wednesday's practice. "That's just who he is. We want him to stay that way. I think it's important for him to play with that edge. I think he'll love being the villain because I think he enjoys that anyway."

Two wins -- and Pierce hasn't gotten going yet

Not only did Boston pull out a lopsided win without Garnett in Game 2, but it did so as captain Paul Pierce struggles to find the rhythm he had going at the end of the regular season.

Pierce is 7-for-19 shooting (36.8 percent) for 29 points in this series with just three assists, nine rebounds (none on the offensive end) and no steals.

This after Pierce scored 52 points on 22-of-34 shooting over his final two appearances of the regular season.

Is Pierce's right shoulder bothering him after flaring up in the play that led to the Quentin Richardson-Garnett dust-up in Game 1? While discussing Kendrick Perkins' knee tendinitis at Wednesday's practice, Rivers noted that both injuries can flare up at any time.

"Tendinitis is tendinitis, you never know," said Rivers. "It can come back after five minutes. But we can't worry about it. You know it's there. It's kind of like Paul's shoulder. You know it's there and it may come back, you just don't know when."

Pierce's stats actually dipped with more than three days rest during the regular season, so it may be easier for him to stay in rhythm when games are more frequent. Pierce averaged 15.1 points per game and shot just 44.1 percent on three days or more rest, while averaging 18.3 points and 47.1 percent shooting overall for the season.

Pierce did do a good job of rebounding early in Game 2, grabbing a trio of quick boards, which helped Boston establish control of the defensive glass and sparked the team to hauling in a season-high 50 rebounds overall.

Perk's defense keeps focus on Wade

Rivers called Perkins the most important player in Tuesday's Game 2 victory for his contributions at both ends of the floor, but one thing Rivers stressed was how Perkins' defense allowed Boston to avoid double-teaming Jermaine O'Neal and allowed the Green to focus on Wade.

"Before the year, we sit down as a staff and try to predict what position we'll ever have to double-team at," said Rivers. "And with Perk and Kevin on your team, you hope you never have to double-team at the 5 or 4 spot."

You don't have to look far for results. O'Neal is averaging a mere 5.0 points per game and shooting 16.7 percent for the series. His only basket in Game 2 came with Perkins on the bench.

"Perk's been fantastic defensively. He's doing a great job and a lot of it is one-on-one," said Rivers. "You can't use too many guys on O'Neal with Wade running around. I think what he's doing is great, trying to fight [O'Neal] off the block, and he's been pretty good at that.

"I thought Perk was the best player in the game [Tuesday]. I thought his passes were what got everybody shots. Most of [Glen Davis'] layups came off Perk passes. A couple of Ray [Allen]'s shots and, again, the biggest play of the game, when [Miami] was up four, and I had gotten on them three or four times about making the next pass, Perkins threw that skip pass to Michael Finley for a 3-pointer. I think he played a great floor game and he was our point-center."

Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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