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Doc Rivers: ‘I’m not happy that [Kenyon Martin] went to the Knicks’

03.25.13 at 3:55 pm ET
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There are – no doubt – Celtics fans wondering the following: How good would Kenyon Martin look playing alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce right about now?

But that didn’t happen, and to make matters worse, Martin is playing for a team that is threatening to run away from the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after Boston’s four-game losing streak has dropped them 6.5 games behind the Knicks entering Tuesday’s showdown at the Garden.

Doc Rivers acknowledged before Monday’s practice that Martin was on the Celtics’ radar but it never worked out. One reason, according to Rivers, it didn’t work out was the area of immediate need didn’t match. The Celtics had just lost Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa to season-ending injuries. The Celtics were looking to build depth in the back-court.

“I don’€™t know,” Rivers said when asked why Martin didn’t wind up with the Celtics. “We looked at all the guys, we were still looking at guards at the time. So we were in no hurry at the time for a big. We were looking for more a big of size, if you know what I mean. And by the time we got around to it, he was gone.”

With injuries to Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks were more desperate and willing to take a chance on Martin. It’s worked out quite well for New York. Martin is averaging 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 23.1 minutes per game, starting six of the 11 games.

“I think Kenyon’€™s been great,” Rivers said of the former All-American out of Cincinnati. “He’€™s been absolutely fantastic. I’€™m happy for Kenyon. I’€™m not happy that he went to the Knicks, but I am happy for him. Because he was out there and we looked at him — a lot of [teams] looked at him — and, in the end, I didn’€™t care where he ended up, I just wanted him to do well. I don’€™t know him well, but we’€™ve always had a very good relationship. Guys like that, you want them to do well. For me, it’€™s as simple as that.”

With or without Martin, the Celtics have always seemed to be primed and ready for New York. Before splitting the previous six regular season meetings over the past two seasons, the Celtics owned the Knicks. Boston swept the four games in 2010-11 and won three of four in 2009-10. And of course, they swept the Knicks in the 2011 playoffs.

“It’€™s New York, our guys get up for them,” Rivers said. “I think they get up for us. Up until this year and last year, we had an advantage. We had the advantage and our guys were up, that usually meant good things for us. Now it’€™s pretty even, but both teams get up each other. It’€™s a fun matchup. I preferred it better in the past, but it’€™s good now. I like games when guys are up for each other, I think they are a lot of fun.”

If the Celtics don’t sweep the next two games with New York in the next six days, there’s virtually no chance of Boston catching New York in the division. It will be the first time in the Pierce-Garnett-Rondo era that the Celtics haven’t won the division. But to Paul Pierce, he knows full well they could still play New York in the playoffs if the Knicks finished with the No. 3 seed and the Celtics finish sixth in the East.

“Well, definitely being that this is a team you may face in the playoffs, you get a chance to beat them a couple more times, it really takes away a team’s confidence going into the playoffs,” Pierce said. “So that’s got to be a little extra motivation. They’ve been playing well all year long, they’ve been on top of the Atlantic Division. But right now it’s about heading into the playoffs, picking up the pace. The Knicks are a team we might have to face, so we want to try to put a little bit of doubt in their minds if we can go out here and get a couple of wins verse them going into the season’s end.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Garnett, NBA
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