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Sports

May 14, 2008

Local NBA scout: Time for Pierce to step up

Jeff Nelson went to the Boston Garden more than a dozen times this season, so he can answer this question better than almost anyone.

How do you beat the Boston Celtics?

Nelson, a Bradford resident and Reading High teacher, was a free-lancing advance scout for three NBA franchises — Denver, Washington and Utah — this past season.

Those teams, with Nelson's help, were an eye-opening 5-3 against the Celtics this season.

Rather than beating the Celtics, Nelson was asked a different question:

What's wrong with the Celtics?

And better yet, how can they fix it?

"They've looked very old in such a short time," said Nelson. "Kevin Garnett is worn out at the end of games from playing too many minutes. Other than Game 2, Sam Cassell (0 for 11 in last two games) has not delivered on offense and kept the Cavs honest.

"The Cavs are daring Rajon Rondo, Cassell, and Kendrick Perkins to shoot and they are missing."

Nelson said the home-and-road discrepancies — the Celts are 6-0 at home and 0-5 on the road in the playoffs — are not a big surprise.

"It seems like most teams have risen their level of play at home — 15-1 this round for home teams (through Monday). I'd bet Andover High and Central Catholic high school teams have a better home record than road record the last few seasons," said Nelson. "Players gather more energy from a home crowd. It's human nature."

But we expected more from these Celtics, particularly after their regular season record (66-16) and road record (an NBA best 31-10).

Nelson has noticed Ray Allen's inability to create shots for himself is costing the Celtics, too, which might mean its time for Doc Rivers to go to the bench.

"The Celtics need to run more to get easy baskets," said Nelson. "And the time has come for Eddie House to play some of Ray Allen's minutes," said Nelson. "Ray cannot put the ball on the floor and score. The Cavs are closing out on him and forcing him to drive. And he's not a good ballhandler."

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