CLEVELAND -- A collection of postgame news and notes after the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena:
The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
Pierce the aggressor against his offensive struggles
Amid his offensive struggles this series, Paul Pierce suggested earlier this week he'd play a big role in an upcoming game, but wouldn't force the issue of his scoring troubles.
OK, he lied. He forced it a little.
Pierce put up 15 first-half shots in Tuesday's Game 5 triumph over the Cavaliers, but a sextet of makes seemed to restore some of the confidence that had eroded over four subpar offensive performances at the start of this series. And while Pierce only made three shots after the intermission, he flirted with a triple-double as he finished with 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting with 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals over 41:55.
"It's important to be aggressive," said Pierce. "I wanted to be more aggressive, getting set up in the paint. Just from watching the film, there were more opportunities that I could get in the paint and stop and get my mid-range jumper. Or find other guys and they stepped up tonight. It really didn't matter who was going to guard me. I was planning on being aggressive anyway."
Maybe even more importantly for Boston, Pierce remained aggressive on the defensive end, maintaining his solid play against LeBron James, but also avoiding the early foul trouble that's plagued him through the first four games of this series.
"[Early in the series, James] was catching the ball wherever he wanted, scanning the defense, picking and choosing his spots," said Pierce. "So my job is to go out there and be aggressive, deny him the ball. Get on him, then back off. Don't give him the same looks. Tony [Allen] did a good job on him, Ray [Allen] did a good job. It's team defense when we're playing on him.
"I put more pressure on the ball. I learned that from Game 3. He just came out and blitzed me and took every shot he wanted [that night]. Tonight and in Game 4, I got up on him, put more pressure on him. Like I said, I'm not going to stop him by myself. It's coming from a number of guys -- Kevin [Garnett] and [Kendrick Perkins], the guys talking behind me, and Rondo ... it's total team defense we're playing."
Pierce's aggressiveness at both ends of the floor wasn't lost on teammates.
"He was very active tonight," said Garnett. "Paul was aggressive on both ends. I thought he was very talkative. It was so loud in here and one of the voices you did hear all night was his. I thought the fact that he helped us on the boards, getting in there and getting loose balls, getting his hand on balls, being aggressive and putting the onus on the defense, we need that from him. That was the difference."
Echoed Ray Allen: "[Pierce] attacked. His shots haven't been falling and we have been picking up the slack. Tonight, he came out and was aggressive. We tried to make sure we got him easy looks, and that was a beautiful thing that he didn't have to work so hard to get easy scoring opportunities. He was aggressive defensively as well."
According to the wizards at ESPN's Stats and Information, Pierce struggled offensively when guarded by James (2-of-9, 4 points), but thrived when others covered him (7-of-12, 17 points). Even still, James still noticed a different aggression in Boston's captain.
"Paul came out aggressive," said James. "He did a good job of trying to attack and just trying to get a feeling for the game. He didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the field, but he was aggressive, and he was able to get 11 rebounds while doing that. He is a good enough player that you can't stop, you just hope to contain him. He was able to get it going."
Added Rivers: "You can feel [Pierce's] intensity. He got his rhythm back. You can feel it and that was great. Not only for him, but I think it's great for our other guys to see."
Allen drains six 3-pointers, keys Boston's balanced output
You could tell from the early going that Celtics guard Ray Allen like the way his shot felt, particularly from the perimeter. It translated to six of his eight buckets coming from beyond the arc as Allen poured in a team-high 25 points to lead six Boston players in double figures in Tuesday's triumph.
No shots were bigger than his pair of triples in the opening minute of the second half, both generated by offensive rebounds that allowed Boston to maintain possession. The Celtics finished with a 23-7 advantage in second-chance points, overall.
"It got us off to a great start," said Allen. "We haven't been great in the third quarter during the regular season, but our focus has been great in the playoffs. Execution is what we pride ourselves on."
Big Baby's night to step up off the Celtics' bench
Celtics forward Glen Davis scored 14 of his 15 points in the second half, finishing easy buckets around the basket generated by Boston's balanced offensive attack that left Cleveland scrambling to cover every corner of the floor.
"It felt good to go out there and contribute," said Davis. "My job is to do all the little things. I know that I'm able to shoot when I'm open, and guys found me when I was open. Something things happened at the right time and at the right moment."
Davis's putback with 9:27 to go in the fourth quarter sent fans spilling towards the exits as Boston ultimately emerged with a 32-point triumph.