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Fast Break: Knicks blowout leaves Celtics staggering

04.26.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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The Celtics submitted another miserable offensive effort, shooting worse than 40 percent from the field, and fell into a 3-0 hole against the Knicks with a 90-76 loss in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. Kevin Garnett totaled 12 points and 17 rebounds, Jeff Green gave them 21 points and eight boards, and Jason Terry and Paul Pierce combined to score 24 of their 31 points in the second half, but none of it mattered in a game the Knicks led by as many as 21 points. Here’s all that went awry.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Everything: When 31 points in the first half is an improvement from their last half of basketball, the Celtics are in trouble. After scoring 23 points in the second half of Game 2, the C’s managed just 31 points in the first two quarters on Friday night. They shot 35 percent from the field (14-40) and committed three more turnovers (9) than they had assists (6) at the break. Outside of Garnett and Green, who combined to score 17 of those 31 points, the Celtics shot 6-of-22 (27 FG%) thanks to an offense that featured a string of failed turnaround jump shots.

Lineups: To the surprise of pretty much everyone, Doc Rivers inserted Terry into the starting lineup in place of Brandon Bass. The move failed miserably, as the Celtics found themselves in a 16-9 hole when Rivers replaced Terry with Courtney Lee with 4:20 left in the opening quarter. This after the Celtics coach benched Lee in favor of Jordan Crawford in Game 2. At one point in the second quarter — as Garnett, Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph sat on the bench — Green guarded 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler. Odd moves all.

Pierce: After carrying the load in Games 1 and 2, Pierce looked cooked. He shot 2-of-10 in the miserable first half, committing three turnovers in that span and bumbling another handful of balls. And then started the third quarter by throwing the ball to Raymond Felton. The Celtics looked old, tired and slow, and Pierce epitomized all of it. He battled, as he always does, but his tank was running on empty.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Garnett: As usual, Garnett came out like a wild man, nearly notching his double-double by halftime. Why the Celtics didn’t feed him more was a mystery. KG played his manic defense, too, neutralizing Chandler and Kenyon Martin. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony (26 points), J.R. Smith (15 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter) and Felton (15 points) continued to force their will upon the rest of the C’s. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Garnett gave them that. The Celtics just didn’t have the personnel to match the Knicks.

Green: While everything crumbled around him, Green gave the Celtics everything they had hoped for all season. He attacked the basket and cleaned the glass, making an impact in the flow of the game while playing the majority of his minutes alongside both Pierce and Garnett. Green was supposed to be the X-factor in this series, but instead he’s been one of the only factors. Exhibit 326: Smith has outscored the entire Celtics bench 49-33 in the series.

Rebounding: At least the Celtics did something well. Pierce and Bass aided Garnett and Green on the glass, each grabbing at least four boards by halftime. The C’s out-rebounded the Knicks 41-37 for the game and here’s the real shocker: They even grabbed more offensive boards than New York (11-6). Of course, their inability to make baskets gave them plenty of opportunities for offensive rebounds.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Jeff Green, NBA

Deep hole: Sloppy C’s in 3-0 hole after Knicks shoot their way to another win

04.26.13 at 10:33 pm ET
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Another 3-0 playoff hole to a New York team. But the Celtics don’t exactly feel like the 2004 Red Sox.

The Celtics committed 18 turnovers and the Knicks turned that into 24 points while Carmelo Anthony scored 26 to lead the Knicks to a 90-76 win in Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden. The Knicks were blazing hot from 3-point range, hitting 11-of-26 attempts from beyond the arc in taking a commanding 3-0 hole in the series.

The Knicks outscored the Celtics, 24-8, in points off turnovers while Jeff Green led all Boston scorers with 21 points. Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 17 rebounds while Paul Pierce had 17 points for the Celtics, who have yet to break 80 points in three games in the series. It is the worst offensive output in Celtics’ playoff history.

J.R. Smith, who scored 15 off the bench, was called for a “Flagrant 2″ foul with just over seven minutes left in the game. He was ejected for throwing an elbow in the face of Jason Terry.

The Celtics shooting woes from the second half of Game 2 continued early on in Game 3. The shot just 34.8 percent in the first quarter while the Knicks came out on fire from long distance.

The tone of the game was set in the first 15 seconds of the game. The Celtics won the tip and Pierce broke free under the basket for a layup. He missed the shot. Garnett missed the easy put-back and Avery Bradley missed a wide-open three from the right baseline.

Pablo Prigioni got the Knicks long-distance game going in the first quarter, hitting a pair of threes as the Knicks held a 23-18 lead after one.

In between the first and second quarter, the Garden crowd gave a standing ovation to first responders, police and other heroes who assisted victims and helped the community through the Boston Marathon tragedies of a week earlier. It was Boston’s first home game in 16 days and the first Celtics game since the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15.

When the game resumed in the second half, New York continued their torrid shooting. The Knicks shot 10-of-18 while Boston converted just 6-of-17 shots and were outscored 24-13 in the quarter as the Knicks took a 47-31 halftime lead. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry

Celtics honor Boston Marathon victims, heroes

04.26.13 at 8:41 pm ET
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Prior to Game 3 of the first-round NBA Playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks, the C’s honored the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings with a moment of silence and a video tribute during the National Anthem. Game 3 marked the first home game for the Celtics since the April 15 terrorist attacks.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Boston Marathon, New York Knicks,

Game 3 pregame: Kevin Garnett feels ‘good’, Avery Bradley battles through illness, Jason Terry starts for Brandon Bass

04.26.13 at 7:39 pm ET
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Asked if he would make any changes to the starting lineup, Doc Rivers said “we’ll see.”

As it turned out, there was a change as Jason Terry took the place of Brandon Bass to start the game.

Rivers also announced 45 minutes before Friday’s Game 3 with the Knicks that Kevin Garnett felt “good” in Thursday’s practice and kept pestering him to practice more. Rivers was playing it cautious with his star after Garnett injured his right hip in the Game 2 loss on Tuesday night.

As for Avery Bradley, Rivers explained his tardiness to Thursday’s practice was due to an illness, which kept him on the sidelines for most of practice. “We gave him a TUMS and told him not to do too much.”

Rivers said he wasn’t sure whether Bradley would start but that he is feeling “good” and would likely be available at close to 100 percent.

As for his $25,000 fine on Thursday from the NBA for criticizing officials after Game 2, Rivers said, “Like I said to [NBA security], I didn’t get fined for being wrong, I got fined for saying it.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett

Danny Ainge ‘not particularly thrilled’ with Knicks matchup

04.25.13 at 5:52 pm ET
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During his weekly Thursday appearance with Salk & Holley, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stopped short of saying he thought his C’s are the better team in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Knicks.

“We don’t think that we’ve played like we are capable of playing,” said Ainge. “It’s one thing to lose to a team who deserves to beat you and is a better team, but I feel like we’€™ve come out ready to play and I have no idea why the beginning of the third quarter in the last two games has not been good.”

Asked to clarify his comments, Ainge showered praise on the Knicks, who lead the series 2-0 and have held the Celtics to 48 combined second-half points.

“They’€™re very good. I have a great deal of respect for the Knicks, and Carmelo [Anthony] is a great player — maybe the toughest matchup in the entire league,” he said. “He’s right there in the same category as difficult a matchup as the Lebron [James]es and the Kevin Durants and the Kobe Bryants. He’s one of those types of players that can score against certain defense. So, no, I’m not particularly thrilled with the matchup.”

Still, Ainge placed the blame on his players. The Celtics simply haven’t lived up to their ability.

“We just need to play with more mental and physical toughness,” he said. “This isn’€™t the team I’ve seen play all year. The first halves have been, but not the second half. I wish I had an explanation, but we just need to be tougher, instigating the physical play. I think that they are getting into us, and we’re not responding. I’d like to see us instigate and initiate contact and be aggressive and not let their pressure affect us as much as it has.”

And the blame doesn’t rest with just one or two Celtics. They’ve pretty much all been been underwhelming.

“It’s everybody,” said Ainge. “It’s gotta be everybody. Avery [Bradley] embodies toughness. Paul Pierce is toughness to us, and Jeff Green — when he’s playing the way that we need him to play — he’s asserting himself and tough. And we know how tough Jason Terry is. And right on down the line. It takes everybody. Brandon Bass. It takes every one of the guys. We don’t have a team where we can rely on one or two guys. We have to get good performances out of the whole team.”

Everybody? Everybody.

“We’ve got to have contributions from the whole team,” he added. “You can’t do it with one or two guys like New York has done. We don’t have that kind of scoring power. We don’t have the league’s leading scorer on our team right now, so we have to get contributions out of a lot of people.”

Got it? Good. Now here are the remaining highlights of Ainge’s interview, which can be heard in full on the Salk & Holley audio on demand page:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett

Thursday notes: Doc Rivers declares ‘he’s Paul Pierce, not Christopher Reeve’

04.25.13 at 4:07 pm ET
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Paul Pierce is a lot of things to the Celtics. He’s the captain, the leader, the top scorer, the best passer and one of the best defenders. But he can’t be the end-all, be-all to the Celtics if they are to have any chance of coming back in the series against the Knicks.

That was the message from Doc Rivers before Thursday’s practice.

“We’re not going to put all that pressure on Paul,” Rivers said. “If we’re asking Paul to score, start the offense and pass the ball, we’re going to struggle scoring. One of our [coaches] even gave me a list of guys who should throw the post pass and it was two guys, and I laughed because one of them was the post guy. That [narrows] our choices a little bit. We can be more creative. I have to be [more creative] because that’s just asking Paul to do too much. We’re asking him to guard [Carmelo Anthony] at times, we’re asking him to bring the ball up the court at times, we’re asking him to be our post passer. He’s Paul Pierce, not Christopher Reeve.”

Another player under the microscope in this series so far is Avery Bradley.

Bradley was not on the floor with his teammates to start practice but after showing up late did participate, according to the team. He is expected to play Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden.

In two losses to the Knicks, Bradley is averaging 10.5 points and 3 assists over 34.5 minutes per game.

“It’€™s a hard role for Avery,” Rivers said. “We talk about [increased responsibilities for] Paul, but we’€™re asking Avery to pressure, pressure, pressure, and then try to do something that he’€™s not. Avery’€™s a good basketball player, but we never wanted him to be in the position of facilitating offense, seeing that guys aren’€™t set, and trying to get guys in the right spots, delivering the pass on target — a lot of that. We’€™re asking a lot, we understand that.”

The Celtics have made the wrong kind of history in two abysmal second half performances. Not only have they recorded back-to-back franchise lows for playoff points in a half (25 in Game 1, 23 in Game 2), they are the first team in the shot clock era to score 25 or fewer points in the second half in consecutive games (regular season or playoffs).

They have managed just 149 points, which is the second-fewest points they’ve scored over any two-game span in their postseason history (They scored 146 points in Games 6 and 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals vs. the Lakers).

“Well, we’€™ve come out flat twice [in the second half],” Rivers said. “I don’€™t know why that is. But they put a lot of pressure on us. Game 2. They scored a ton of points, 32 in the third quarter. We took the ball out and they pressured us. But we’re not organized offensively the way we should be, in my opinion. And that’€™s what we have to be. You’€™re going to have to play some halfcourt in the playoffs and we knew that going into the series, we just haven’€™t handled it very well.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Christopher Reeve, Doc Rivers, NBA playoffs

Doc Rivers fined $25,000 for criticizing officials after Game 2

04.25.13 at 2:14 pm ET
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Sticking up for Kevin Garnett has cost Doc Rivers a pretty penny.

The Celtics head coach has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating, Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President Basketball Operations, announced on Thursday.

Rivers made his comments in the postgame press conference following the Celtics’€™ 87-71 loss to the New York Knicks on April 23 at Madison Square Garden.

Specifically, he was critical of the trio of David Jones, Rodney Mott and Derrick Stafford for what he termed “horrendous” foul calls on Garnett that he said had a “huge effect” on the Celtics in their 87-71 loss to the Knicks in Game 3.

Garnett was called for three fouls in the first half and had five fouls midway through the fourth quarter, when he came out of the game.

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