NBA: Celtics canít escape talk about road woes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2008

By Jimmy Golen
Associated Press
WALTHAM, Mass. ó The usual beds. The usual lockers. The usual baskets.
The usual questions.
The Celtics are back in Boston for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Cleveland Cavaliers, back where theyíre unbeaten so far in the playoffs after a regular season in which they posted an NBA-best 35-6 home record.
But itís their 0-5 road record that has them worrying.
iThere is some frustration,î center P.J. Brown said Tuesday after the teamís walkthrough and film session. iBut up to this point, it hasnít gotten under our skin.î
Despite going 31-10 away from Boston in the regular season ó also an NBA best ó the Celtics have yet to win on the road in the playoffs. The slump allowed the lowly Atlanta Hawks to force them to a seventh game in the first round, and it could be their doom against the more formidable Cavaliers and star LeBron James.
iThe key is winning the series. Whether itís at home or on the road, you just try to win it,î Pierce said. iItís a three-game series, with two of them at home.î
Asked if there was a danger that his players were using their home-court advantage as a crutch, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, iThe danger is that youíre playing on the road right now against really good teams.
iWe earned that right to have home-court advantage,î he said. iI donít think it has anything to do with why we havenít won a road game. We havenít played well on the road, and we have to do better.î
Thanks to their 66-16 regular-season record, the Celtics could theoretically win their 17th NBA title without ever winning a road game.
No teamís ever done that, though, and the Celtics donít really want to be the first.
iIím not even thinking about a Game 7. Thatís definitely the idea: Get a win (Wednesday) night and try to close it out in Game 6,î Pierce said. iWe definitely have to play well (in Game 5), because we havenít been playing well on the road.
iYou kind of want to treat it like a Game 7, because you canít count on winning Game 6.î
The Cavaliers are in a similar spot in the series ó 2-0 at home and 0-2 on the road ó but they canít fall back on having the deciding game at home. On the other hand, Cleveland won an away game in the first round, closing out the Wizards 105-88 in Washington in Game 6.
iIt just shows how strong you are as a team to be able to go into a hostile environment and stick together and come out with a win,î Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson said, adding that coming to Boston a second time will help.