Commentary

Eager to atone for Game 4

Celtics out to clinch series, prove Sunday was hiccup and not return of inconsistency

Updated: April 27, 2010, 5:35 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics guard Ray Allen spent a three-hour plane ride from Miami to Boston on Sunday night reflecting on each of the three free throws he missed in the waning moments of Boston's Game 4 loss to the Heat.

When the plane touched down at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Allen gave a fleeting thought to going straight to the team's practice facility in Waltham to work through a rare hiccup in his charity stripe game.

"I wanted to come in when we landed, but I hadn't seen my family in a couple days," said Allen. "I got in here [Monday] and got plenty of free throws up."

[+] EnlargeAllen
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesRay Allen, who uncharacteristically missed three free throws toward the end of Sunday's loss in Miami, shot 150 free throws on Monday, making 145 of them.

Just how many did he get up? According to Allen, he shot 150 freebies Monday and connected on all but five.

The Celtics convened Monday at the Sports Authority Training Center eager to rinse the bad taste left by Sunday's loss.

From an inability to slow Miami superstar Dwyane Wade, to carelessness with the ball, to missed free throws, it was no surprise the Celtics spent an hour alone in film review pointing out all of their mistakes.

What had to bug the Celtics was that, after three stellar performances to start the postseason -- games in which they looked a lot like the team that started the year 23-5 and were labeled championship contenders -- Boston reverted, even if just momentarily, to the sloppy and inconsistent team that went 27-27 to close out the regular season.

The Celtics were eager to prove Sunday was simply a fluke. Just like those missed free throws.

"I don't think about bad old stuff, you try to put those things out of your mind," said Allen. "I've missed plenty of free throws. That's part of the game. But it's like when you lose a game, you hate that feeling when you lose, so you don't want that feeling too often."

Allen is notorious for trying to immediately right any wrongs on the court. He noted how, at halftime of most games, he'll go to spots he missed from in the first half and try to make a shot in order to rebuild his confidence from that location.

Boston had plenty of wrongs to right Monday, as evidenced by the lengthy film session. Even coach Doc Rivers admitted the film study took three times as long as it usually does. But Boston is approaching Tuesday night's Game 5 in Boston like it's a Game 7.

"There's a lot of urgency," said captain Paul Pierce. "We don't want to go back to Miami. The next time I go to Miami, I hope I'm on vacation. Right now, we're just trying to get it done at home."

The team stressed three keys to getting back on track:

1. Stop (or at least slow) Wade

The Celtics actually didn't mind giving up 46 points to Wade on Sunday, but they weren't thrilled that he shot a blistering 66.7 percent from the field (16 of 24 overall) and connected on five 3-pointers.

"Wade scored 46, but he's Dwyane Wade," said Rivers. "Shooting 66 percent, that's the bigger number for us. The 46 we can live with, if [he shoots] 34 percent. ... He's dominating the series and we have to do a better job on him."

2. Quiet the supporting cast

Pierce lamented allowing 20 points to Quentin Richardson in Sunday's loss and suggested the supporting cast simply can't have big efforts like that.

"We can't let the other guys have big games," said Pierce. "We can't let Richardson go out here and have a big game, 20 points in the playoffs. Other guys like [Carlos] Arroyo and [Michael] Beasley can't have big games. Wade's going to have the ball most of the time, we gotta expect him to have big games because of that. But it's the other guys. And I'm a big part of that as the guy guarding Quentin Richardson."

3. Play Celtics basketball

Boston committed nine turnovers in the span of nine minutes at the start of Sunday's game and didn't have enough energy in the tank to compete its rally after storming back from two double-digit deficits in the first half.

"I thought, for the most part, everybody wanted to get this settled in Miami and we were trying to do it with one shot instead of one pass," said Kevin Garnett.

Boston vowed to be refocused Tuesday. And, in the end, the free throws didn't bother Allen as much as the result did.

"I actually wasn't worried about the free throws themselves, I was just thinking about the game, the things we could have done better," said Allen. "That's all part of the game. Missed layups, missed free throws. You can't beat yourself up over it. It's one of those things that you're just trying to figure out a way to be prepared for personally.

"We had a chance to win. As a group, we just weren't as good as we have been over the past few games."

And the Celtics vow they'll be better Tuesday. Allen sank 145 free throws to prove it.

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

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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