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Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘can’t win without Rajon Rondo’

04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET
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Paul Pierce and the Celtics are down 2-0 in their series against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. (AP)

Paul Pierce and the Celtics are down 2-0 in their series against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. (AP)

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics, who are in a 2-0 hole against the Knicks in their Eastern Conference playoff series following Tuesday night’s 87-71 loss at Madison Square Garden.

“They can’t win without Rajon Rondo. It kind of just boils down to that,” Mannix said. “It was such a gutty first half, how they played. They defended, they made shots, Jason Terry was big for them. But the second half, when the Knicks came out with a modicum of defensive intensity, they could do nothing, because they don’t have anyone on the floor that knows how to manufacture shots. [Paul] Pierce did the best he could, but it was pretty clear to me that the Knicks were loading up on him and really putting a focus on keeping him under control in the second half, contesting more shots in the second half. And without Rondo, they got nothing in the paint. Everything was a contested jump shot off one or two passes.

“In a lot of ways, it’s kind of depressing to watch. Because the Knicks, they’re not a good defensive team. They were good for like five games in the month of November. Then all of a sudden they reverted back to Carmelo Anthony ball, circa 2008, and decided to outscore people. But the Knicks, when they put any kind of pressure on the Celtics last night, they just didn’t have anything in terms of playmaking that could respond.”

The Celtics were able to play well for stretches after Rondo’s season-ending ACL injury in the regular season, but Mannix noted that the style and intensity in the playoffs are a different matter.

Said Mannix: “We’ve seen first-hand the last two years what Rondo has done for this team in the playoffs — he’s been the best player on the floor every single year. … He just creates shots, and he wreaks havoc in the paint. You simply can’t replace that.”

Jeff Green‘s inconsistency continues to be an issue. After recording 26 points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, Green had 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting with one rebound in almost 35 minutes Tuesday.

“I don’t know what it is, other than the fact that it’s just kind of who Jeff Green is at this point,” Mannix said. “He has been a workhorse for him in the second half of the season, and so many nights you can see just that talent. But I can tell you this: The inconsistency was maddening to Oklahoma City back in the day. They wanted to keep Jeff Green, they offered him a good contract extension. But they weren’t willing to go as high as Jeff Green wanted them to go because of that inconsistency. It was a big part of it. They didn’t know if he was going to be that guy every single night. At his best, he’s one of the most versatile forwards in the NBA, he can do a lot at either forward spot from the perimeter and on the inside. But some nights, as you mentioned, he does disappear. That’s one of the most frustrating things about Green, and that’s something I think that until he resolves, it’s always going to hold him back.”

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Read More: Chris Mannix, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

Jason Terry: ‘In the second half, we didn’t show up’

04.24.13 at 8:59 am ET
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NEW YORK — The stars finally seemed aligned. Jason Terry found his sweet spot on the floor 26 feet out on the left wing, a spot from which he hit three 3-pointers in the first half as the Celtics built a nine-point lead and led by six at the half.

Then the sweet spot turned bitterly sour, and it all fell apart for Terry and the Celtics.

He didn’t score in the second half and the Celtics managed just 23 points in the final two quarters of another abysmal playoff performance – an 87-71 loss to the Knicks Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

“In the second half we didn’t show up so we look forward to going home and getting this first one,” Terry said. “I never get too high or too low. So, I’m always even keeled. It’s a long series. I always say that. We’ll see what adjustments we make going forward.”

So, what happened?

“I think they turned the pressure up and didn’t allow us to get into our offense,” Terry said. “We have to do a much better job of maintaining our pace. We got it up-tempo in the first half. Second half, we slowed down a little bit so going home just looking forward to us picking up the pace and making it a much more up-tempo game.”

Terry appeared to find his rhythm early, as his first three and first field goal of the playoffs gave Boston a 20-15 lead late in the first quarter.

“We made a good run of it in the first half,” he added. “We played our style of basketball, our tempo. But in the second half we definitely got away from what what gave us success in the first [half].”

Terry attempted just two shots in the second half and missed them both and finished with nine points.

“It’s shouldn’t differ, whether we’re down or we’re up, we have to play the same way, constant, persistent pressure on them offensively by pushing up the ball and looking for early offense. The defense has been solid. We made some errors where we’ve given up some threes that we shouldn’t have, per our game plan. For the most part, we’ve been solid. They haven’t gotten 90 points this series and neither have we. We’re going to have to pick it up offensively.”

Will Terry’s three first-half 3-pointers translate to personal momentum as the series shifts to Boston?

“Not necessarily,” Terry said. “That’s my job. I still have to be a lot more assertive and aggressive and I look forward to doing that at home.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jason Terry, NBA, New York Knicks

Doc Rivers: ‘I thought the fouls on [Kevin Garnett] were horrendous and had a huge effect’

04.24.13 at 1:03 am ET
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NEW YORK — The Celtics wanted more out of Kevin Garnett and got it in Game 2, as he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

But in the mind of coach Doc Rivers, it could’ve been more – much more – if it weren’t for the officials. For the second straight game, Garnett got into foul trouble, with three fouls at halftime and five midway through the fourth quarter. When the Celtics needed him the most, Garnett couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm in the second half, and Rivers said the officiating early had an impact in the end.

“I thought the fouls on Kevin were horrendous, and had a huge effect on us,” Rivers said after the 87-71 loss in which Boston scored 23 points in the second half. “He never got his rhythm when you could see he was going to have a game. It hurt us.”

Garnett felt the frustration as well, but held back a bit, deflecting some of the criticism on himself.

“At times, it’s frustrating,” Garnett said. “But fouls are part of the game. Refs are calling things but it’s an aggressive time in postseason play. I just have to be consistent and position myself not to foul so much.”

The trio of David Jones, Rodney Mott and Derrick Stafford officiated the game, which ended with Garnett and Paul Pierce each with five fouls before they were taken out after the game was out of reach with four minutes left.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA

Doc Rivers on his offense: ‘So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots’

04.24.13 at 12:39 am ET
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Doc Rivers had Paul Pierce back in the lineup Wednesday against Detroit. (AP)

Doc Rivers had no answers for another second-half freeze out. (AP)

NEW YORK — Celtics coach Doc Rivers took full responsibility for the historic futility of his offense has suffered through in dropping the first two games of their series at Madison Square Garden.

For the second straight game, the Celtics established a playoff franchise record for fewest points in a half when they scored just 23 in the second half of Tuesday’s 87-71 loss to the Knicks.

“We are who we are,” Rivers said when asked about the effect of not having Rajon Rondo available. “We can’t apologize for that. That is who we have been left with and I think it is good enough to win. So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots. We can play better and we have to play better.”

The Celtics led 48-42 at the half. But Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes early in the third quarter, part of a 29-6 New York run that put the Knicks in complete control. The Celtics were outscored 32-11 and converted just 4-of-17 shots from the floor in posting another abysmal third-quarter performance.

“They attacked us,” Rivers said. “We didn’t handle it very well. We have to be able to do better. I don’t know what we are doing wrong in the beginning of third quarters but we gave up those two back-to-back threes, which helped their confidence. It was a tale of two halves.”

Paul Pierce led the way with 18 points but came out with four minutes left as the Celtics conceded.

“He needs some help,” Rivers said. “I think Paul was playing pretty well. He started getting tired in the second half because he tried to do everything.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Iman Shumpert, NBA

Bad sequel: C’s repeat their horrific Game 1, fall again to Knicks in Game 2

04.23.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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J.R. Smith shoots over Jordan Crawford Tuesday in New York in Game 2. (AP)

J.R. Smith shoots over Jordan Crawford Tuesday in New York in Game 2. (AP)

NEW YORK — Another horrific second-half drought. Another very bad result for the Celtics.

Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, NBA “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith added 19 while Raymond Felton (16 points) chipped in with several big drives to the basket, as the Knicks beat the Celtics, 87-71, in Game 2 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The series now shifts back to Boston with the Celtics, down 0-2, facing a virtual must-win on Friday night at TD Garden.

Paul Pierce scored 18 while Kevin Garnett added a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) for the Celtics, who suffered through another horrendous second-half drought, blowing a nine-point lead late in the first half to fall two games down to the Atlantic Division champs. After scoring just 25 points in the second half Saturday in Game 1, and eight in the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored just 11 points in the third quarter and finished the second half with just 23 points, the lowest second-half scoring output in team playoff history since the introduction of the shot clock.

The Celtics appeared to have momentum early. They built a 20-15 lead in the first quarter on Jason Terry‘s first field goal of the series. After going 0-for-5 in Game 1, Terry’s 3-pointer was the first of three treys in the first half. But the Knicks then ran off the next 12 points, closing the first quarter on an 11-0 run, thanks in part to a troubling turn at the end of the period.

Smith hit a jumper with 6.8 seconds left to put the Knicks up 23-20. Pierce committed a turnover and the Knicks found Smith, who drained a 36-foot three at the buzzer, putting the Knicks up 26-20.

After the Knicks went up 27-20, the Celtics answered with the next 11 points as Terry led a resurgent bench. When Pierce hit a 12-foot turnaround with 1:02 left in the second quarter, Boston had its biggest lead, 48-39. That would be the last time the Celtics had control.

The Knicks scored the final three points as another Pierce turnover kept Boston from building momentum at the half. As hot as the Celtics were in shooting 11-of-18 from the field in the second quarter, the Knicks were just as cold, making just 4-of-17 shots.

Those three points at the end of the first half started a remarkable turnaround for New York. Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes to open the third quarter as the Knicks exploded on a 29-6 run. Before the third quarter was over, the Knicks had outscored the Celtics 32-11, building their lead up to 15, 74-59, heading into the fourth. It was a complete role reversal for the two teams in the third, as the Celtics made just 4-of-18 while the Knicks were blazing hot, converting 12-of-17 from the field.

Pierce rattled in a three with 9:47 to cut New York’s lead down to 11, 76-65. Jordan Crawford hit a jumper over Steve Novak with 9:15 left and Boston trimmed the deficit to single digits, 76-67.

Following a Knicks timeout, Anthony hit a shot over Garnett with 8:56 left to put the Knicks up, 78-67. After two Garnett free throws, it was Anthony again with a jumper. The Garden crowd exploded when Felton fed Smith with 7:52 left for an alley-oop dunk putting New York ahead, 82-69. After Garnett picked up his fifth foul with 6:28 left, Felton hit a mid-range jumper at the free throw line to put New York up, 84-69.

Pierce and Garnett came out with just over four minutes left as the Celtics conceded their second straight playoff loss in New York. With the Knicks up, 2-0, the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday night at 8 p.m. at TD Garden. Game 4 will also be played in Boston (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

For more from Mike Petraglia with the Celtics in New York, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, NBA playoffs, New York Knicks

‘Brilliant’ Pablo Prigioni returns for Game 2, Doc Rivers talks road toughness

04.23.13 at 8:25 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Pablo Prigioni, who did not play in Game 1, returned Tuesday night from a sprained right ankle and will start for the Knicks against the Celtics in Game 2.

What does the return of Prigioni to the Knicks starting lineup mean Doc Rivers?

“Well, it just gives them another decision-maker. He’s brilliant,” Rivers said. “He’s another Jason Kidd-ish-type guy. It just gives them another smart player on the floor and another guy that can create plays. That makes them really good. It’s no coincidence that when he’s in the lineup they play better because they have a lot of IQ on the floor at the same time.”

“He gives us a guy who can help run our team, and gives us a defensive presence out front guarding the ball,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, adding there won’t be a minutes restriction. “Not at all. He’s practiced the past few days and moved around real well. I think he’s going to be fine.”

Prigioni came out and guarded Avery Bradley while Raymond Felton was on Paul Pierce.

“We’re going to attack whoever guards Paul,” Rivers said. “I’m sure [Mike Woodson] is thinking the same thing, it doesn’t matter who’s guarding Paul because Paul’s going to get the ball in the post. They’re going to come trap. I hope there’s an advantage there but I don’t know if there is.”

With Prigioni returning to action, that sent Chris Copeland to the bench.

Rivers said the 72 hours is a long time to wait between playoff games but there’s no better city to spend it in if you’re on the road then in New York.

“You never know but I think pretty well,” Rivers said when asked how he thought his team handled it. “Obviously, especially on the road, you’d rather get right back at it. You just feel like you’re sitting around the room and things like that, but obviously being in New York helps in some ways. It’s not a bad city to hang out in, go have dinner so I think we’ll be ready.”

Rivers is hopeful his team can channel the 2008 team in terms of toughness and the 2010 team that found a way on the road.

“I was going into the ’08 playoffs because we literally had the easiest year you could possibly have,” Rivers said. “We won every game it felt like and didn’t get tested a lot. I was concerned going into the playoffs with a team, even though they were really good, that didn’t get tested. I thought Game 6 in Atlanta we came apart a little bit.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, New York Knicks, Pablo Prigioni

Tuesday shootaround: Jeff Green says C’s ‘can still play good without force-feeding’ Kevin Garnett

04.23.13 at 11:45 am ET
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Jeff Green felt relaxed and comfortable at Tuesday morning's shootaround at Madison Square Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jeff Green felt relaxed and comfortable at Tuesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

NEW YORK — Jeff Green isn’t necessarily buying into the theory that the Celtics have to get Kevin Garnett involved on every possession he’s on the court for the Celtics to have a chance of tying the series, 1-1.

“I think we have one of the best coaches [Doc Rivers] in the league who can figure out the adjustment and how we can still play good without force-feeding [Garnett],” Green said Tuesday morning prior to the team’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.

But Green added later that an established Garnett in the post will clearly increase the chances of Boston walking out of MSG with a victory in Game 2 Tuesday night.

“Well, to make it easier for him in the post, I’ve got to continue to be aggressive off the dribble, trying to get to get to the rim, because if I do that it’s going to take a man [to guard me] in the post and open up a lane for Kevin,” Green said.

Green scored a team-high 26 points and played nearly 46 minutes in Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the New York Knicks. Rivers Green also said he needs to work through the fatigue to remain productive. Green scored 20 points in the first half but only six in the second half as the Celtics offense went cold. Green split time with Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass in guarding Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 but needed 29 shots to do so.

“I just have to do it. I have to play through the fatigue,” Green said. “I have to continue to look for mine, basically. There’s no excuses now. I want to be out there. I want to compete. I want to play against the best. I want to guard Carmelo. I want to do it all. It’s something I just have to get through.

“Just continue to be more aggressive in the open court, that’s about it. Defensively, continue to make everything for Carmelo tough, keep him off the offensive boards and get all the 50-50 plays.”

Green is confident that if he remains aggressive, the offensive – and points – will continue to flow for him.

“I got to the free throw line,” said Green, who made all seven free throws Saturday. “I made a couple of shots outside on the perimeter to get me going and I got some layups in transition. That’s how you get yourself going. That’s how you get a rhythm.”

Told that Anthony feels this is a “must-win” game for the Knicks before the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday, Green said Boston feels the same way.

“Every game is a must-win game,” Green said. “It’s the playoffs. That’s the only way you can move on is to win. We go into every game thinking it’s a must-win.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green
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