USUALLY WHEN a coach talks of making adjustments during a playoff series, it's mostly done to combat a certain style or scheme.
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has to adjust a major part of his offense because one of his players is struggling through an injury.
Paul Pierce averaged 21 points in the first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, yet was able to manage just 21 total points in the first two games against the 76ers, missing all but one of his six three-point attempts and shooting just 25 percent from the floor.
He did score 24 points Wednesday in the Celtics' 107-91, Game 3 win, but shot only 6-for-17, piling up most of his points from the foul line (11-for-14). Much of his trouble in the first two games came because of the defense of Andre Iguodala. Another major factor was Pierce's health. He is bothered by sprained ligaments in his left knee, which he has acknowledged affect his lateral movement.
Because of Pierce's shooting struggles, Rivers said his main scoring threat needed to get to the basket. Pierce did that Wednesday.
"We're trying to get Paul to his spots, but it's tough because we're not sure where those spots are yet," Rivers said. "Usually with Paul the elbow isolations are great, but right now he can't get away from anybody with his leg. We're going to go for some more pindowns for him to do different things. Usually you didn't have to get a body off of him, he can shake the [defender] on his own. I think now we'll have to use him a lot like Ray [Allen] and bring him off screens, then get him space. We hope [his leg will allow him to run off screens], we'll find that out. The other way is the post. He did score two buckets off postups [in Game 2].
"I don't think Iguodala cares what [health] percentage he is, and that's what counts. When he's on the floor, he's 100 percent. That's how we play our guys, that's how we view them. Whether he is or isn't really doesn't matter. We just have to go out and play and figure it out. We have to get 100 percent out of him of what he has. That's what we have to do."
Rivers was also extremely complimentary of the Sixers and coach Doug Collins.
"I think they played better than us in [the first] two games, we just happened to win one," Rivers said. "They play extremely hard, they're together, they're extremely well-coached and they're athletic as heck and they like each other. That's really important, especially for a young team. Most times young teams don't like each other because they're competing against each other to be the guy.
"I think it's overblown that they're so young. They practice just like us. Doug really has them focused and they really know who they are."
After leading the Sixers in scoring during the regular season, guard Lou Williams scored only 17 points in the first two games of the series and made just seven of his 24 shots (29.2 percent).
Williams never has worried about his shooting. He knows the streaks come as quickly as they go. Wednesday he shot 4-for-10, scoring 13 points.
"Shooters go through little lulls," Williams said. "I go through stretches where I make a lot of shots then I have a few games where I'm not making shots. Hopefully every time I step on the court I feel like that's the game where I'm going to break loose and have a big game. I don't [try to do anything different], I just continue to be aggressive, stick with my principles, stick with what I believe I can do on the court. Once you start getting outside of the box trying to do things that are not normal for you, you have more struggles than what you're dealing with. I find other ways to impact the game - trying to rebound, get others involved, recognize when a double team is coming and trying to make the best plays that I can."
With the low scoring in the series and other games in the playoffs, many think the games are hitting pretty high on the ugly scale. Celtics coach Doc Rivers disagrees.
"A lot of it is defense. I don't think a close game is ever ugly, in my opinion. A 122-120 game or a 71-70 game, to me if it comes down to the end and they're close games, then the crowd is excited. I think because of the lack of practices, though, the lack of execution you can see every night. We've talked about it all year. It's hurt teams, us being one of them at times. It's just the way it is, so defense has the advantage."
Certainly, Wednesday's blowout performance by his team wasn't ugly.