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Doc Rivers: Kevin Garnett ‘good to go’ for Game 3

04.24.13 at 5:14 pm ET

Kevin Garnett suffered a hip pointer in Game 2 against the Knicks, but should be “good to go” for Thursday’s practice and Friday’s Game 3, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on a conference call.

“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.”

The C’s coach touched on a number of different subjects during the call — from Garnett’s foul trouble to his team’s second-half struggles and the benching of Courtney Lee. Here are the highlights.

On Kevin Garnett’s foul trouble.

“Him getting in foul trouble had a huge impact on the game, and we have to find a way to keep him out of it. That hurt us. If Carmelo [Anthony] gets in foul trouble, it’s going to have a huge impact on the game for them, and it did for us. No doubt. I actually thought Kevin started out great. You can see he was aggressive, ready, getting in his spots. Getting two fouls early like he did, he really never was allowed to get his rhythm again. We got him right to the right spots that we wanted to, but, again, he was sitting next to me a lot.”

On the team’s offensive struggles.

“The game is not as difficult as we make it at times. In the first half, we got a lot of early baskets, a lot of transition baskets. We were so active defensively that we got out into the break and we were able to score. Since [Rajon] Rondo‘s gone down, that’s how we have to score.

“We have to be an even better defensive team, and we were for the first half. In the third quarter, we gave up 32 points, and so everything felt like we were walking the ball up the floor under an amazing amount of pressure. And that’s where the Knicks clearly turn up their pressure, and we have to figure out a better way to handle it.”

On Raymond Felton’s success.

“He’s killing us. He’s getting into the paint and attacking us. Clearly, that doesn’t look good on film. I can tell you that. And we have to do a better job on him. … We have to keep him out of the paint.”

On returning to Boston for the first time since the Marathon bombings.

“It’ll be great to be home. Obviously, these are extreme circumstances. We missed our last home game of the year, which I don’t know if that’s ever happened, and we’ve been on the road ever since. So, first of all, it’s good to be just back in Boston. Second, it’ll feel great and be great to be back in the Garden playing in front of our fans.

“But we have to play better. We do. We have to play harder. Clearly, the Knicks came out in the second half and acted more desperate than we did, and I thought it showed in the way they played.”

On Paul Pierce’s extended minutes.

“I shouldn’t have to worry about it at the beginning of the third quarter, but that’s where we’ve come out flat twice — to start the third quarter. If you do that on the road, you’re going to give the home team confidence. But the fatigue thing is a definite concern of mine with Paul, Kevin and Brandon [Bass]. … It’s absolutely a factor.”

On his new players being “wide-eyed” in the playoffs.

“I don’t know. I hope not. They could be. For a lot of them, it’s their first shot at it. Put yourself in that spot. Your first time playing in the playoffs is at Madison Square Garden. That’s expected in some ways. Now we’ve gone through it, so maybe we’€™re ready. …

“I don’t know if it surprises me or not. This group has been mentally tough this year at times. You’€™re on a roll, things aren’t going your way, and I didn’t think we handled it very well. For us to win the series, we’re going to have to.”

On Pablo Prigioni’s flopping exhibition.

“I can’t say anything. Even yesterday, I didn’t think I said much and that can be a problem, because all I basically said was that Kevin getting in foul trouble had a huge impact on the game. That’s not criticizing the officials. So, I’ve just gotta make sure I focus on our stuff and let you talk about it.

“I saw that, but there’s nothing I can do about it. That’s not the difference in the game, either. At the end of the day, we cannot be outplayed in the effort department and in the desperation department. I really thought the second half of that game the Knicks played like their season was on the line, and I didn’t think we answered it.”

On delving deeper into his bench.

“I don’t mind our rotations. They looked good in the first half. It’s the second half that hurt us. I don’t mind playing more guys. I really don’t, if it’s the right time and the right place. If we find the right time and the right place to do it on Friday, we will. For the most part, role players play better at home, and that gives us the opportunity to add one or two to the rotation. I just want to stay fresh, and if that’s playing more guys, then that’s what we’ll do.”

On whether Jordan Crawford is a better option than Courtney Lee.

“It’s not that deep. I just think right now he is, and I think offensively he gives you a better shot at it. Courtney defensively is better, so it really depends. Because of the injuries we had at the guard spots, it really depends on the matchups for us whether Jordan in certain spots or Courtney will play. And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

On benching Lee for most of Game 2.

“I did talk to him about it. I told him, ‘Listen, there’s a competition for minutes.’ I told all of our guards this. I told the team. Really, Courtney played consistent minutes until the very end of the year. Once he came back from injury, I thought he didn’€™t play consistent minutes anymore, because Jordan was playing well, Jeff [Green] was playing unbelievable and so we made a change.

“In the playoffs, you gotta be ready when you’re called. You can’t have any excuses or anything like that. Every team shortens their bench. Guys play more minutes, some guys play less. The starters play more, everybody else plays less. You’ve just got to buy into the team, and if you get called four minutes, you have to be ready, or if you get called 20 minutes, you have to be ready. That’s what winning teams do.”

On inspirational halftime speeches.

“If it’s going to come to that, we are in trouble. I don’t even remember what [former Hawks coach] Mike Fratello said at halftime. We have to do something. You’re darn right about that. We have to do something, because we’ve come out flat. We did all the other stuff. We’ve come out flat after back-to-back halftimes, and I don’t know what that is. As a coach, that’s an alarm, and I don’t know what it is. But we have two days to figure out what it was.”

On the Knicks’ defense of Pierce.

“They’re doing a great job. They’€™re fighting him. They’€™re getting into him. The way the games are being called, they are allowing a lot of physical play, which I like. I think that’s good for the way we all play, but they are doing a better job of it. And you’ve got to give them credit. I think Raymond is up for the challenge, and he’s doing a great job. … They’re taking us out of stuff with their ball pressure, and we have to find a better way to handle it.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Courtney Lee, Kevin Garnett, NBA
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