|Danny Ainge ‘not particularly thrilled’ with Knicks matchup||04.25.13 at 5:52 pm ET|
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.”
“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:
|Doc Rivers: Kevin Garnett ‘good to go’ for Game 3||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.”
|Irish Coffee: When did the Celtics become the Knicks?||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.
|Celtics urge fans to arrive early for Game 3||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.
|Irish Coffee: Breaking down Celtics vs. Knicks||04.19.13 at 3:25 pm ET|
It’s only fitting that Boston and New York will meet again in a playoff series.
An underlying respect between the two cities rose to the surface this week, when the Yankees honored Red Sox Nation with a ‘United We Stand‘ sign outside their Stadium and sang Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ inside. Bound further now by more than a rivalry, we can only hope sports provide the same small distraction and healing power in Boston that they did in New York City after Sept. 11, 2001.
As we did during Wednesday’s emotional National Anthem at the Bruins game, let’s attempt to welcome that distraction and healing power in the aftermath of the cowardly Boston Marathon bombings and ensuing manhunt by previewing the first-round NBA playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks.
The two erstwhile Defensive Players of the Year have each served as anchors of NBA title teams and enter this series dealing with recent injuries. While Chandler (neck) has relative youth and superior rebounding on his side, Garnett (ankle) is a more versatile offensive threat, illustrating a far wider shooting range and facilitating at a higher rate. There’s a reason one’s a future Hall of Famer and the other made his first All-Star roster this winter.
Slight advantage: Celtics
Brandon Bass (27.6 MIN, 8.7 PTS, 5.2 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.8 BLK, 0.5 STL)
Vs. Carmelo Anthony (37.0 MIN, 28.7 PTS, 6.9 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK)
|Knicks vs. Celtics: NBA playoffs 1st round schedule||04.18.13 at 10:07 am ET|
The NBA released the full schedule for the first-round playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks.
Game 1: Celtics at Knicks on Saturday (3 p.m., ABC)
Game 2: Celtics at Knicks on Tuesday (8 p.m., TNT)
Game 3: Knicks at Celtics on April 26 (8 p.m., ESPN)
Game 4: Knicks at Celtics on April 28 (1 p.m., ABC)
Game 5: Celtics at Knicks on May 1 (TBD, if necessary)
Game 6: Knicks at Celtics on May 3 (TBD, if necessary)
Game 7: Celtics at Knicks on May 5 (TBD, if necessary)
|Irish Coffee: Jordan Crawford’s Celtics career in 4 minutes||04.12.13 at 12:41 pm ET|
This video pretty much sums up Jordan Crawford‘s 24-game Celtics tenure. He’s been hit or miss. Mostly miss.
Crawford’s 39.3 field goal percentage and 29.0 3-point percentage reflect his career averages (39.9 FG%, 29.8 3P%), so the questions that followed him from Washington remain: Can Doc Rivers trust the 24-year-old shooting guard? Or has the Celtics coach’s decision to insert Jeff Green alongside Avery Bradley in the starting backcourt leave Crawford out of a guard rotation that also features Jason Terry and a struggling Courtney Lee?
The C’s haven’t won a single game when Crawford attempts more than 10 shots, and he’s taken double-digit shots in six of their last seven losses. They’re 12-6 when Crawford fires fewer than 10 shots. Likewise, the Celtics are 8-4 when Crawford plays fewer than 20 minutes and 4-8 when he plays more than 20. Maybe that’s why Rivers hasn’t trusted him with more than eight clutch minutes (within five with five minutes to go) since Feb. 22.
The good news? Crawford’s best production for the Celtics has come in the fourth quarter, when he’s shooting 47.2 percent from the field (34-72 FG), 40.0 percent from 3-point range (10-25 3P) and 88.0 percent from the free-throw line (22-25 FT). Then again, he’s committed 22 turnovers against 19 assists in the final 12 minutes of games — by far his most careless quarter (he owns a respectable 2.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ration in quarters 1-3).
Meanwhile, he ranks 244th among defenders since coming to Boston, according to Synergy Sports. Add it all up, and it’s hard to argue Crawford deserves any more than emergency minutes in the playoffs.
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