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.”
Rivers on why Jordan Crawford is ahead of Courtney Lee  off the bench: “Right now, honestly, Jordan’s moved in front of [Lee] on the depth chart. But Courtney will have a say-so in this series. And I believe that. He’s handled it great, as far as I know — you never know. But, listen, it’s the way sports are. Guys move in front of you, move behind you, and, right now, Jordan is another guy that can give us [a spark] offensively. For us, our defense has been pretty good. So if it struggles, then Courtney is back in. The one thing that Courtney does better is he can make the spot-up shot from the corners. But right now we’re just going the other way.”
Crawford had 10 points, two steals and two turnovers in 25 minutes off the bench Tuesday in Game 2. Lee didn’t see the court until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was no longer in doubt.
Rivers on Rajon Rondo  and his advice: “He’s been good. He talks to guys, he’s been great with [coaches], too. Rondo knows my offense, sometimes I think better than me. That’s the truth, too. He reminds me all the time, ‘Hey what about this, what about that?’ Sometimes I say, ‘Well, we could run it if you were in, but we can’t.’ We have a lot of dialogue during the game.”