Rajon Rondo recovered from a poor shooting performance in Game 5 to score 21 points in the Celtics’ 98-79 loss to the Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night at TD Garden. Rondo also had 10 of his team’s 14 assists and committed 7 of their 13 turnovers.
“You can’t just look at a stat sheet and say that we only had 14 and say we didn’t move the ball,’’ Rondo said. “Guys missed shots. When you shoot the ball well, if you make a couple of layups, that’s more assists. We moved the ball well, we just didn’t put the ball in the hole.’’
After a Game 1 defeat, Rondo called for the Celtics to increase their physicality. This time, Rondo said the Celtics should have made things more difficult on LeBron James, who scored 45 points.
“LeBron was comfortable all night,’’ Rondo said. “We didn’t get into his air space. We have to play that as a team, collectively. I have to do better as far as taking care of the ball, getting into my sets. I have to make it harder for him. It was too easy.’’
Allen on solid footing
Ray Allen missed the final nine games of the regular season and the opening two playoff games recovering from a right ankle injury involving bone spurs. Allen slumped to a 3-for-7 free throw shooting performance in Game 1, but he has converted 12 of 13 tries since then, going 3 for 4 at the line in a 10-point performance Thursday.
“This was basically our Game 7 on our floor, to win here on our floor,’’ Allen said. “We had an opportunity. We still knew we had two games to win one. Obviously, you know, your greatest chance, you want to give yourself on your floor. So, any time you lose an opportunity like that, you are angry with yourselves.’’
Asked about having grit, Allen replied: “It was there, it was definitely there. We didn’t have things go our way, not the way we wanted it. We could have been better on offense. We could have been better on defense. Just the small little plays, all the small things. It was there. Everybody from the starting five, everybody coming off the bench, it was there. It just sometimes doesn’t go your way.’’
Pietrus is positive
Reserve Mickael Pietrus remained optimistic about the Celtics’ chances in Game 7 in Miami Saturday night. “I think they played great, you know, give them credit,’’ Pietrus said of the Heat. “They came with their best. I don’t think we should be discouraged, or anything like that. We have to stay positive and go to Miami and get one. I think our energy was way too low today. You know, it’s going to happen. Maybe they played great, tonight we didn’t have an offensive rhythm. So, go down Saturday and try to get a win.’’ . . . Pietrus on James: “He got his jump shot going. I’ve seen him score 50 or 60 before, so don’t get discouraged. Saturday is going to be an interesting game. Game 7 is a win or go home and everyone is going to fight, so, hopefully, it’s going to be a good game and everybody is going to fight and we look forward to going to OKC . . . Coach Doc Rivers said the Celtics are planning on playing in the Finals against Oklahoma City. “The whole locker room was down,’’ Rivers said. “But you can see their resolve in the locker room. They’re not just going to pack for Sunday. They’re going to bring suits for Tuesday and they’re going to bring suits for Thursday. And that’s the way we’re going to plan to do it.’’ . . . Rivers on Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte: “He’s our MVP, we call him that all the time. When you go in that training room, it is packed. Even the guys who are quote-unquote healthy, they’re in there. Without him and his sense of pride, I guarantee there’s no way we’d be here.’’