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Doc Rivers: A ‘smarter’ Kevin Garnett is well-rested and ready for stretch

03.04.13 at 5:58 pm ET
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A fresh Celtics forward Kevin Garnett continues to rise above the competition. (AP)

A fresh Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (5) continues to rise above the competition. (AP)

WALTHAM — In years past, when Kevin Garnett was given a day off like he was on Feb. 22 against the Suns in Phoenix, he might have hit the roof with Doc Rivers.

Not this year.

The Celtics coach said Monday he is giving more and more time off to Garnett and he believes it’s paying dividends. Indeed, Rivers may have given the 36-year-old Garnett just one game off but he’s giving the big man much more time off from practice, like this weekend when he told Garnett and Paul Pierce to stay away from the gym on Sunday, when the team had a skeleton practice.

“We’ve given him more time off this year than we ever have for him,” Rivers said. “In the past, we couldn’t even broach that subject with him. This year, he wants the days off. So, I think he’s gotten smarter in that regard and that to me is why he’s been able to play in more games.”

Garnett has played in 57 of Boston’s 58 games, averaging 14.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Most significantly, he’s averaging just a tick over 30 minutes a game, which is right where Rivers wants him. It would be even lower if the Celtics hadn’t played a franchise-record 10 overtime games so far, including the epic triple-OT game against Denver on Feb. 10.

“I think the days off have really helped, the subbing, the second year in a row with it, has helped. The 10 overtime games have not helped. That has not gone the way the planned it but it is what it is.”

Rivers also said that he is not paying particularly close attention to the Eastern conference standings in which is 31-27 Celtics find themselves just two games out of the fourth playoff spot, which would assure them home-court advantage and the opening-round.

That’s not to say Garnett doesn’t see value in being in the gym and working up a sweat.

“They’re very important,” Garnett said Monday, before the team readies for back-to-back road games in Philadelphia and Indiana. “You gain chemistry and you gain timing. New guys coming in, you need these practices. I won’t say the days off aren’t great. Practice is essential.”

Speaking of the new guys, Garnett said he’s ready to work with Terrence Williams, DJ White, Shav Randolph and Jordan Crawford as they assimilate the Celtics’ way.

“I’ve always made myself accessible for anybody who needs me,” Garnett said. “It’s no different for this group of guys here to try and make their transition. If I can make somebody’s transition easier, I will.”

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Jeff Green: A hard fall ‘woke me up’

03.02.13 at 10:00 am ET
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Jeff Green chose to use humor to deal with pain Friday night – specifically the pain of falling down on his left side hard midway through the third quarter.

Green fell to the floor with 6:13 left in the third quarter. He remained there on the court for several minutes while Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte tended to him.

“I fell. I didn’t hurt myself. I was tired so I wanted to lay there a little bit and catch my breath. It kind of woke me up a little bit, got my shot to start fall so I’m glad I fell.”

“He was fine,” Doc Rivers said. “He came back in and played great. I thought Jeff struggled tonight. And it was almost after he got down he came back in and played really well. I thought he kind of got it going. You know in his defense offensively, I thought our spacing was poor in the first half. Every time, there were no driving lanes for him, and we were small. And when you’re small, you should have a lot of driving lanes.”

After the fall, Green came back in with 2:22 left in the third, sporting a white protective sleeve on his left elbow and arm. He hit his next two shots and finished the game by hitting six of seven attempts, scoring 18 points on the night in Boston’s 94-86 win over the Warriors at TD Garden.

“He was awesome,” Paul Pierce said. “He really carried us that fourth quarter, took it upon himself to be aggressive. You know, he’s coming into his own, after a slow start, which you can expect. Its tough when you take a year off from basketball and try to get back in the game, but I think since January he’s just been phenomenal, very consistent doing what we ask on both ends of the court, and he’s getting better and better as time goes on.”

Asked if it would just be easier for Rivers to just hit him in the head to wake him up the next time, Green laughed, “I would like that to happen. Those things seem to happen for a reason. Tonight was just not a ‘smack in the head’ type of night for me.”

What exactly happened on the fall?

“My whole body hurt,” Green said. “Whatever hurts in the morning, I guess that’s what I fell on the most.”

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Avery Bradley: ‘I want to shut down everybody’

03.02.13 at 1:27 am ET
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After torching the Knicks for 54 points on Wednesday night, Warriors guard Stephen Curry got off just two field goal attempts against Celtics defensive wunderkind Avery Bradley.

“He’s a very good player,” said Bradley. “I just tried to make everything hard on him tonight and tire him down.”

In the opening 10:18, Curry missed his only shot and turned the ball over twice. Meanwhile, the Celtics established a 26-15 lead and never trailed again in their 94-86 victory.

“I thought Avery set the tone for us early,” said Kevin Garnett. “Any time you’ve got a guy who’s coming off scoring a lot of points, our backcourt, our guards, they were ready for tonight’s challenge, and Avery set the tone.”

Curry scored 25 points on the night but finished just 6-of-22 from the floor.

“I thought Avery did a good job of wearing out Curry,” added Celtics captain Paul Pierce.

Yet, Bradley claimed his approach on Friday is no different than any other night. Just a different opponent.

“I want to shut down everybody every single night. If you notice, every game I play the same way. Every single game on the defensive end. That’s just my mindset. That’s how I play. That’s how I always play my whole life.”

Really? There’s not even a little part of Bradley that gets up for a guy like Curry coming off 54 points?

“I play the same every single game,” he said. “I play as hard as I can when I’m out there on both ends of the court.”

Bradley picked up his fourth and fifth personal fouls in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Thankfully, Courtney Lee picked up where his fellow “pitbull” left off, because Bradley thought he only had three fouls.

“You’ve got to just keep playing,” he said. “I got in some foul trouble, but I fought through it and just kept trying to make everything hard on him despite the calls. … I just tried to continue to be aggressive on the defensive end. I know that’s what my team needed me to do. If I fouled out the game, I was going to be fine with that, because I was just going to play as hard as I can. That’s my goal going into the game.”

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Jason Terry: ‘My best basketball is ahead of me’

03.02.13 at 12:35 am ET
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Jason Terry

Jason Terry

It’s been a month since Jason Terry proclaimed the unpredictable, “free-wheeling” and Rajon Rondo-less offense more suitable to his style of play, but he’s been just as inconsistent as he was for the first three months of the season, including Friday night’s disappointing 2-for-11 performance against the Warriors.

“At this point, I’m as comfortable as I’m going to get,” admitted Terry after the 94-86 victory. “It was an adjustment period earlier, but now the way we’re playing, things are flowing and we’re having fun.”

While Terry’s shooting percentages (43.9 FG%, 36.8 3P%) are comparable to last season’s (43.0, 37.8), he’s been held to five points or fewer on 14 occasions and scored 20 or more points just three times this season. On the Mavericks in 2011-12, those numbers were essentially reversed.

“I’m very satisfied right now,” said Terry, who finished with seven points on his 11 shots in 30 minutes Friday night. “We’re winning, and that’s the most important thing. You never want to be too hard on yourself. So, for me, my best basketball is ahead of me. I’m a guy that in big games is going to hit big shots and make big plays.”

One thing Terry never lacks is confidence, and that should only benefit the Celtics going forward. If his best basketball has yet to come, the C’s 11-4 run in the 15 games since Rondo’s injury is all the more impressive.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Paul Pierce gets attitude adjustment and Celtics pull away

03.01.13 at 11:53 pm ET
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Doc Rivers saw it. Paul Pierce knew it.

The Celtics captain was sulking in the third quarter as the Warriors came out fast and took the lead after Boston controlled most of the first half.

Both knew it had to change and fast.

“Yeah, I think I was the one that kind of brought the body tone down a little bit, because I made some bad turnovers there to start the third quarter, kind of got me down,” Pierce said. “So it was up to me to kind of get it back, get the team back on. That’s what I try to do, I cant have any lapses like that because it really affect the team and I realize that, so I have to do a better job in that department.”

“He started out playing great and then when I subbed him and brought him back in, I don’t know what happened. We were turning the ball over and he was struggling,” Rivers said. “It was funny, in the third quater, the only thing I told him was I don’t care that you’re not playing well in this stretch or we’re not, I just hate our body language right now. And I give Paul a lot of credit, he basically said, ‘That’s on me. That’s my fault.’

“I thought we were hanging our heads a lot in the third quarter. We were turning the ball over and we were missing shots. The end of the world is not going to happen. We just have to keep playing. I didn’t like the way we responded to that and I thought Paul did a good job in the timeout right after that of getting the guys back.”

Pierce finished with a game-high 26 points in Boston’s 94-86 win over Stephen Curry and the Warriors Friday night at TD Garden.

“It was good,” Pierce said. “You play a quality ball club who’s playoff-bound who’s very dangerous in the West, capable of beating anybody. Sometimes that first game at home feels like a road game, your body is readjusting. You know you haven’t been in this building in a couple of weeks, so sometimes its difficult. We were a little sloppy with the ball, but it’s a good win nevertheless.”

The Celtics actually went into a zone defense when Avery Bradley went out with his fifth foul with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

“I think it really bothered them,” Pierce said. “They’re a great one-on-one team who really thrives on taking you off the dribble, making an extra pass, shooting the three-ball….I think it altered their offense a little bit once we got into the zone. It was really effective, especially in the second half.”

Jeff Green took a hard spill on his left side midway through the third and when he returned, the Celtics went on a 9-0 run to pull away for good late in the third.

“He was awesome tonight,” Pierce said of Green, who finished with 18 points. “He really carried us in that fourth quarter, took it upon himself to be aggressive. You know, he’s coming into his own, after a slow start, which you can expect. Its tough when you take a year off from basketball and try to get back in the game, but I think since January he’s just been phenomenal, very consistent doing what we ask on both ends of the court, and he’s getting better and better as time goes on.”

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Fast Break: Paul Pierce in a golden state in win over Warriors

03.01.13 at 10:07 pm ET
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Paul Pierce (26 points) and Jeff Green (18 points) were the only Celtics in double figures, but they earned payback for a 101-83 loss to the Warriors two months ago, holding off Golden State for a 94-86 victory.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Bradley vs. Curry: Avery Bradley set the tone against Warriors counterpart Stephen Curry, coming off his 54-point effort against the Knicks. Bradley limited Curry to 0-for-1 shooting and forced a pair of turnovers in the opening 10:12. The C’s pit bull was so far up in Curry’s grill he must’ve known what the Warriors guard ate pregame. Of course, Curry found ways to get his points (25), particularly at the free throw line, and forced Bradley into five fouls in 21 minutes, but the message was sent in a game that saw the Warriors shoot 34 percent.

Old man Pierce: The Celtics captain broke out just about every move in his bag of veteran tricks, baiting defenders into fouling him on jumpers and carving through defenders in slow motion. Pinched nerve be damned, Pierce contorted his way into a handful of improbable layups. He finished the first half with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with four assists and three rebounds. Needless to say, the C’s led 50-46 at the break.

Mean Jeff Green: After falling hard on his left arm and remaining on the floor during a few scary minutes midway through the third quarter, Green climbed to his feet and walked to the Celtics bench, where he shook off the pain and covered it in a padded sleeve. He proceeded to convert his next four shots, including three jumpers, to help turn a 60-60 game late in the third into a double-digit lead early in the fourth.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Everything Crawford: The only air Jordan Crawford got was the breeze he felt when Stephen Curry blew past his saloon-door defense. He played three feet off Harrison Barnes five feet from the basket. In other words, Crawford’s defense came as advertised: Practically non-existent. And his offense wasn’t much better, as he finished 2-of-6 in 17 minutes, including a couple ill-advised pull-up jumpers in transition.

Terry-ble: As soon as it appears Jason Terry might be getting comfortable in the Celtics offense, he submits a game like Friday night, when he missed 9-of-11 attempts in 30 minutes. When Rajon Rondo suffered his season-ending ACL injury, Terry insinuated he might benefit from a less Rondominated offense. Not so much.

KG’s shot: A week ago, when he rested Kevin Garnett against the Suns, Celtics coach Doc Rivers claimed KG hasn’t been the same since the triple-overtime Nemo blizzard victory against the Nuggets. After solid performances against the Blazers and Jazz, Garnett grabbed his share of rebounds and met his quota for profanity-laced outbursts against the Warriors, but his shot wasn’t falling. Garnett finished 2-for-10 from the floor.

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Teamwork: Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Courtney Lee pick it up in win over Warriors

03.01.13 at 10:00 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley pointed the way to another home court victory as Stephen Curry (background) looked on. (AP)

Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley pointed the way to another home court victory as Stephen Curry (background) looked on. (AP)

Paul Pierce scored 26 points and Jeff Green added 18 off the bench as the Celtics overcame foul trouble from Avery Bradley to beat the Golden State Warriors, 94-86, Friday night at TD Garden. Kevin Garnett was just 2-for-10 from the field but finished with a team-high 13 rebounds. The Celtics avenged their ugly 101-83 loss from late December in Oakland. Pierce and Green were the only Boston players to score in double figures.

Stephen Curry scored 54 points earlier in the week in New York against the Knicks, a season-high in the NBA this season. He had scored 94 points in his previous two games but was held to 25 points on Friday night on just 6-of-22 shooting, as the Celtics (31-27) won their eighth straight home game. David Lee had 10 points and a game-best 19 rebounds for the Warriors, who fall to 33-26.

The Celtics used hot shooting early to build a 13-point first-quarter lead. Pierce led the way with 13 points in the opening period. Pierce finished with 18 in the first half. The Warriors, mostly behind the scoring of Curry, worked their way back into the game in the second quarter. Curry drew three fouls on Bradley in the first half and scored 10 points in the second quarter as the Warriors cut Boston’s lead to 50-46 at the half.

The Warriors scored the first two baskets of the third quarter and tied the game. The tide seemed to be turning heavily against the Celtics when Bradley – the player assigned to defend Curry – picked up his fourth and fifth fouls of the game in a 27-second span of the third quarter and had to check out with 8:01 left in the quarter after his fifth foul.

Courtney Lee stepped in and shutdown Curry as the star scored just two points against Lee and the Celtics in the period. The Celtics had another scare when Green landed hard on his left elbow midway through the third and stayed on the ground for several minutes. After coming off the floor on his own power, Green was given a white protective sleeve and returned with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

With Green back and Bradley in foul trouble, the Celtics took command of the game for good, going on a 9-0 run to break a 60-60 tie and take a 69-62 lead into the fourth.

The Celtics are off until Tuesday when they play in Philadelphia. For more from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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