|04.25.13 at 9:41 am ET|
The Celtics lost the first two games of their playoff series in New York, both times struggling badly on offense after halftime (48 points combined in the two second halves).
“I would love to say it’s as simple as play harder, play better, but we have to do a lot of things,” Rivers said. “Both games were completely different except for the score, as far as our scoring. In the second game, the third quarter we gave up  points, which meant that we played taking the ball out of bounds, and their pressure affected us. Our defense, though it’s been good, is still tied to our offense. And I would say in the third quarter that was the big part of it.”
Jeff Green continues to shine in spurts, but he’s been unable to carry it through for an entire game. Rivers acknowledged Green’s inconsistency can be frustrating.
“At times. Because I know how good he can be — and I know how good he will be,” Rivers said. “He was fantastic in Game 1, if you just go by total numbers [26 points, 7 rebounds]. Obviously he’s not going to have the half he had in the first half, you’re not going to do that in two halves. That’s a 50-point game. I guess that’s possible, but that’s hard to do.
“In Game 2 our pace was bad. And if our pace affects any single guy, it’s Jeff Green. Without the pace that we wanted to play at, I thought we hurt him as much as Jeff. So, that’s on us. It really is. It’s on me, it’s on our group. Our guys understand the important of that. If you want him to be effective, we have to get him in the open court, otherwise they’re just loading up on him.”
|04.24.13 at 5:14 pm ET|
“It was affecting him,” said Rivers. “In a couple timeouts, I kept asking him if was he OK, and he is. He’s good. He’s good to go. He’ll practice [Thursday] and then play on Friday.”
|04.24.13 at 2:22 pm ET|
Veteran leadership. Superior coaching. Clutch playmaking. Suffocating defense. When did the Celtics and Knicks switch jerseys? In the first two games of their opening-round series, New York has simply out-Celtics-ed the C’s.
Despite establishing halftime leads in their first two meetings, the Celtics failed to execute anything resembling an offense, toyed with head-scratching matchups and generally just crapped their pants after the break. The result is a 2-0 hole and an early NBA playoff exit staring them back in the face. That’s supposed to be the Knicks’ role.
This can’t be how a team led by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett goes out. Can it? Doc Rivers is coaching like a desperate man, and maybe he is. Maybe he knows Garnett’s injuries are worse than we thought, Jordan Crawford is his best option off the bench and the success of the pitbull backcourt was simply smoke and mirrors.
Here’s what we do know: Carmelo Anthony is the best player in this series, and it’s not even close. The only guy who could possibly answer Anthony’s ability to create clutch offense out of nothing is dressed dapperly on the Boston bench. His name is Rajon Rondo, and he’s not walking through that door.
Paul Pierce used to be that guy, but now that his age matches his minutes, he can’t shoulder the load. Maybe on a night or two, but not over a seven-game series. Kevin Garnett was that guy as recently as last year’s playoffs, but cameras caught him clutching his abdomen on multiple occasions and bone spurs don’t disappear from your foot overnight. And Jeff Green may one day be that guy, but not now. Not consistently anyhow.
The C’s needed a collective effort from that trio in concert with a chorus line of contributions from their teammates, and nothing’s changed. That’s still the formula. Whether they can execute it or not is an entirely different matter.
|04.24.13 at 1:59 pm ET|
Prior to Friday night’s Game 3 playoff matchup against the Knicks, the Celtics are asking fans to arrive early to the team’s first home contest since last week’s tragic Boston Marathon bombings for security purposes.
In order to allow ample time for fans to file into their seats, doors will open 90 minutes before the game’s scheduled 8 p.m. start. The Celtics are also reminding ticket-holders that current security measures are still in place, including no bags and discretionary searches.
|04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET|
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.”
|04.24.13 at 8:59 am ET|
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.”
|04.24.13 at 1:03 am ET|
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.