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Turnover tale: Celtics drop Game 1 to Knicks

04.20.13 at 5:32 pm ET
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Paul Pierce was up in the face of Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks all day. (AP)

Paul Pierce was up in the face of Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks all day. (AP)

NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony was just too much.

Anthony scored a game-high 36 points while J.R. Smith added 15 as the Knicks beat the Celtics, 85-78, Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.

Jeff Green started out hot but scored just six points in the second half and finished with 26 while Paul Pierce added 20 for the Celtics, who committed 21 turnovers in falling down 1-0 in the series.

The Celtics scored just 25 points in the second half, including just eight in the fourth quarter. They had three more turnovers (10) in the second half than field goals (7).

After the Celtics scored the first four points of the game, the Knicks went on a 12-2 run as Anthony started off on fire. He hit a pair of threes and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, scoring 10 points in the opening four minutes of the game. But the Celtics responded and quieted the crowd for the rest of the quarter, taking a 29-26 lead after one as Green drilled a three at the buzzer.

The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure on Anthony and the Knicks in the second quarter as Anthony missed nine of his next 11 shots from the floor. Coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, took Green off Anthony defensively, allowing him to get into an offensive rhythm. The result was immediately felt. He scored 12 of his 20 first-half points in the second quarter as the Celtics took a 53-49 halftime lead. Green was on fire in the first half, going 7-of-10 from the field. Avery Bradley (11) and Paul Pierce (10, six assists) were the only other in double figures in the first 24 minutes.

The Knicks scored the first five points of the third quarter to regain the lead but the Celtics used an 11-1 run late in the third quarter to built their biggest lead, 70-63, capped off when Pierce hit a long pull-up three.

Kevin Garnett’s turnaround over Kenyon Martin with just over eight minutes left tied the game, 72-72. Anthony responded on the next possession to give the Knicks the lead again.

Anthony hit a jumper over Green to put the Knicks up four, 76-72, before Pierce responded with a tough jumper with 6:03 left. But then, in a pivotal moment of the game, J.R. Smith drove to the basket and converted a layup with 5:44 left and drew the fifth foul on Kevin Garnett.

Pierce hit a jumper with 4:34 to close Boston within three, 79-76. But on consecutive possessions the Knicks missed open looks at threes and the Celtics were unable to execute offensively. Anthony’s layup with 2:31 left put New York up, 81-76.

Smith had a key steal of an Bradley pass to Pierce with just under four minutes left but Raymond Felton missed a wide-open three. Pierce missed a three that would have tied the game with just over three minutes left. Anthony hit a long two-point jumper over Green with 1:21 left to give the Knicks an 83-76 lead.

Game 2 is Tuesday night back at Madison Square Garden at 8 p.m. before the series shifts back to Boston next Friday. For complete coverage from Madison Square Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Doc Rivers: Kevin Garnett has ‘no limitations’ while the bench is a great unknown

04.20.13 at 4:46 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Doc Rivers is fully confident that Kevin Garnett is at full strength as the playoffs begin in New York.

“Kevin is great,” Rivers reassured everyone when asked about the physical well being of his 36-year-old big man. “No limitations. Kevin is fine.”

What the playoffs also mean is the no more five-minute in-out rotations for Garnett and no more worries about playing him 25-30 minutes a game.

“That’s nice,” Rivers said of the change. “The five-minute rotation thing with Kevin, you do it because you have to get through the season but it’s horrendous. Teams were game-planning against it. It got to a silly point at times. Kevin would come out and teams would bring in their big back in and we knew we couldn’t bring him back in. That’s gone now. It’s basketball. We still want to limit his minutes, 40 [laughs] or 35 but not this set rotation of minutes for him. And that makes it so much more difficult to game plan against our second unit.

“Rotations are easy when you can play the better player more minutes. That’s not hard. It’s when everybody is even and you’re trying to figure out who to play. I’ll have no problem playing Kevin more minutes. I think that’s easy. And honestly, I’ll have no problem playing someone else less if Kevin can play more so that’s not a problem at all.”

What remains to be seen is how the bench adjusts over the course of a seven-game series. Jordan Crawford and Jason Terry were the first of the bench Saturday and then Courtney Lee was on the floor as the second quarter began, playing with Terry and Crawford, as Rivers went with a very small lineup.

“I don’t know, honestly,” Rivers said when asked what he’s expecting from his role players in crunch time. “We clearly want to shorten our bench but I think in this case, because we have so many guys who are almost equal, it’s going be short but it’s going to be different guys [coming off bench in rotation].

“You just prepare them in what you have to do as a team. They’re going to hear advice from the rest of the guys, Kevin, Paul, JET and at the end of the day, they probably throw most of it out and you go out and play in the game. After Game 1, I’m sure some of the guys are going to find something out and as a coach, I’m just hoping what they find out is really good. But even if they find out something really bad, you hope they can learn from it and move on from it. I try not to overdo it. There’s guys who I don’t know how they’ll be in this atmosphere and I’ll find that out, too.”

Is there a concern some might be overwhelmed?

“You can never sense that,” Rivers said. “You have to wait until the game is played. Guys have horrendous week of practice and you’re on them all week to learn sets and then they get into games and all of sudden it clicks and I’ve seen just the exact opposite. You just don’t know.”

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Doc Rivers: ‘Emotionally, it could go either way’

04.20.13 at 2:47 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Doc Rivers admitted before Game 1 Saturday that his team didn’t have the best of practices on Friday at Columbia University, on the eve of the team’s first postseason game this year.

He also was very understanding of the players wanting to follow the events going on 200 miles away in Boston.

“[Friday] was a strange day,” Rivers said. “You’re going to practice and you hear guys on the phone and literally everyone is calling home, yelling or you could hear them saying, ‘Stay in the house!’ And we’re going to practice and I even told our staff, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes in practice today. There’s no way their focus is where it should be. And you felt that going into practice. And, honestly, we were right, practice played out that way.

“So I don’t know. Thank gosh it’s over, in that regards. It was good to see everybody in the city happy, hugging and rejoicing. And I’m sure our players had a chance to exhale, because their families are still back there. [Rajon Rondo] was supposed to join us yesterday, and he couldn’t even get out. He was locked in and had to stay in himself. What does that do for us today, I have no idea? I think, emotionally, it could go either way.”

Rivers and his staff are ready to handle the situation, good or bad, during the course of the game.

“Hopefully we can figure out a way, if it’s not going the right way, to gather them right and get it back,” Rivers said. “Thank gosh it’s a four-quarter game because I’m always worried about any team, even if it wasn’t for this, being too emotionally high at the beginning of a game. Because you still have to finish the game. We’ll see.”

Speaking of Rondo, after being locked down on Friday, the injured point guard made his way down to the Big Apple on Saturday and is with the team for the start of the playoffs. Rivers definitely likes him around the team.

“I want him around,” Rivers said. “He’s a good mind. He’s a great, great mind. And he knows the game. He’s a smart kid. People have no idea his IQ, they really don’t. It’s funny right now, even after our shootaround, he’s into it.”

With Pablo Prigioni [sprained ankle] is out for the Knicks, Chris Copeland moves into the staring lineup. The Knicks will go with a starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert, to go along with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.

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Live Blog: Celtics take on Knicks in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden

04.20.13 at 2:17 pm ET
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Irish Coffee: Breaking down Celtics vs. Knicks

04.19.13 at 3:25 pm ET
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It’s only fitting that Boston and New York will meet again in a playoff series.

An underlying respect between the two cities rose to the surface this week, when the Yankees honored Red Sox Nation with a “United We Stand” sign outside their Stadium and sang Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” inside. Bound further now by more than a rivalry, we can only hope sports provide the same small distraction and healing power in Boston that they did in New York City after Sept. 11, 2001.

As we did during Wednesday’s emotional National Anthem at the Bruins game, let’s attempt to welcome that distraction and healing power in the aftermath of the cowardly Boston Marathon bombings and ensuing manhunt by previewing the first-round NBA playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

CENTER

Kevin Garnett (29.7 MIN, 14.8 PTS, 7.8 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.9 BLK)
Vs. Tyson Chandler (32.8 MIN, 10.4 PTS, 10.7 REB, 1.1 BLK, 0.9 AST, 0.6 STL)

The two erstwhile Defensive Players of the Year have each served as anchors of NBA title teams and enter this series dealing with recent injuries. While Chandler (neck) has relative youth and superior rebounding on his side, Garnett (ankle) is a more versatile offensive threat, illustrating a far wider shooting range and facilitating at a higher rate. There’s a reason one’s a future Hall of Famer and the other made his first All-Star roster this winter.

Slight advantage: Celtics

POWER FORWARD

Brandon Bass (27.6 MIN, 8.7 PTS, 5.2 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.8 BLK, 0.5 STL)
Vs. Carmelo Anthony (37.0 MIN, 28.7 PTS, 6.9 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK)

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We have to make [Carmelo Anthony] work for it’

04.18.13 at 11:00 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

With the regular season over and the playoffs starting Saturday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and discussed his experience during the Boston Marathon bombing, the team’s matchup with the Knicks, and how to stop Carmelo Anthony.

When the two explosions went off at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Rivers had just finished up his team’s practice and was planning on heading for the conclusion of the race.

“I just noticed people, literally running around,” Rivers said. “Then my phone rang and I think it was my assistant who told me what was going on. Obviously I didn’t have any hardship personally except for trying to navigate through people. What I witnessed more was just how quickly, in my opinion, the city went to work. I’m not talking just the first responders. What I did get to witness, it felt like hundreds, it wasn’t, but it felt like hundreds of ambulances, fire trucks roaring by me because I was on Huntington Avenue, which is the next block. … I saw a guy in a suit and tie directing traffic and saw guys hugging and saw people just trying to help each other, and that’s what struck me.”

Rivers talked about how his team will not be returning to Boston before the team’s first playoff game on Saturday in New York.

“The playoffs start on Saturday, so just the travel would have been hard and we made that decision,” Rivers said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. It’s an extended road trip, basically. But guys, they call home, they check on people they know, so that will be part of it. One of the things that I’ve never let go [of] and I understand more than anything is that athletes have a human life. A lot of times a guy will have a bad game and fans or the media will just want to say he didn’t play well, but you may know why for real. Maybe he had a personal issue at home that affected him, and this may affect us, but I’m hoping this affects us in a positive way.”

The Celtics finished 41-40 and with the seventh seed and will play Game 1 of their series vs. the second-seeded Knicks on Saturday afternoon. Games 1 and 2 will be at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics have had success in the postseason vs. the Knicks, but Rivers said he doesn’t expect past series to affect this year’s games.

“I hope [past history will help], but I don’t think it will,” Rivers said. “It would be nice if it helped but none of those guys or at least very few of those guys are part of that history. In a lot of ways it’s a brand new team we’re playing and they’re really good. They didn’t win our division and win the amount of games that they won by fluke. They’re a good basketball team.”

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Knicks vs. Celtics: NBA playoffs 1st round schedule

04.18.13 at 10:07 am ET
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The NBA released the full schedule for the first-round playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks.

Game 1: Celtics at Knicks on Saturday (3 p.m., ABC)
Game 2: Celtics at Knicks on Tuesday (8 p.m., TNT)
Game 3: Knicks at Celtics on April 26 (8 p.m., ESPN)
Game 4: Knicks at Celtics on April 28 (1 p.m., ABC)
Game 5: Celtics at Knicks on May 1 (TBD, if necessary)
Game 6: Knicks at Celtics on May 3 (TBD, if necessary)
Game 7: Celtics at Knicks on May 5 (TBD, if necessary)

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