- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2011

WALTHAM, MASS. (AP) - Time was against these Celtics before.

Father Time.

When Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen brought their 30-something bodies to Boston in 2007, they joined Paul Pierce as a potent All-Star trio. But each year, observers talked about a small window of success for the aging Big Three.

It’s not closed yet, not even after the Celtics fell behind 2-0 in their playoff series with the flashier, younger Miami Heat.

“I think every year you have an opportunity,” Allen said Thursday. “So, I don’t look at it like it’s ‘The Last Hurrah.’ When I got here in ‘07, everybody was saying, is this your chance, this year? And it’s four years later.”

And the Celtics still have a shot at their 18th NBA championship.

Before that can happen, though, the Big Three must recover from the first 0-2 deficit in their 11 playoff series together.

The effort _ and coach Doc Rivers said it must be more energetic _ begins Saturday night at home with Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Forget all the X and O stuff,” Rivers said. “I really thought Miami played harder in a lot of ways _ all the loose balls, they finished at the basket (going) through us, they got three-point plays (that) we didn’t.”

The Heat won the opener 99-90 with Dwyane Wade scoring 38 points and LeBron James adding 22 _ and James Jones helping with a surprising 25. Miami also took Game 2, 102-91, behind 35 points from James, 28 from Wade and 17 from Chris Bosh.

On top of that, the Celtics came out of that game battered.

Pierce hurt his Achilles’ tendon, Allen sustained a chest bruise when elbowed by James and Rajon Rondo had a stiff back.

Rivers expects all of them to be better on Saturday night. And, he said, Shaquille O’Neal probably will return for his first playoff game after his sore right calf improved.

What can he contribute after being sidelined for all but one game since Feb. 1?

“I have no idea,” Rivers said, “and I don’t say it to be funny. I just know he’s going to be big.”

Story Continues →