|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.
|Irish Coffee: Why does LeBron James do stuff like this?||04.11.13 at 2:29 pm ET|
Just when you’re thinking, “Hey, maybe LeBron James isn’t so bad after all,” he goes and pulls a stunt like this. Of all the weird stuff he’s done in the past, this might be the strangest. Guess he isn’t the total package after all.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 11, 2013
Dude, you’re the best basketball player on the planet. We get it. You won the NBA title, and you’re probably going to win it again. Same goes for the MVP. But that doesn’t mean we want to see you in your spandex. Twice. By the way, was he really working out like that, or did he strip down to take the picture of himself? No wonder none of his teammates are in the gym working out with him. Seriously, I would’ve thought this was a joke if it wasn’t LeBron.
By the way, when’s the last time you saw Garnett tweeting a picture of himself working out? Over his dead body. I don’t know how he and Pierce let Doc talk them into not playing against this weirdo Friday night.
|Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce (ankles) won’t face Heat||04.11.13 at 12:59 pm ET|
Paul Pierce & KG are traveling with the Celtics to Miami but neither will play against the Heat due to sore left ankles. Both are day-to-day
Both will travel to Miami and neither has been ruled out the Magic in Orlando on Saturday. After Wednesday’s loss to the Nets, Garnett and Pierce each left the decision about rest up to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
‘Whatever Doc wants me to do,’ said Garnett.
“I’m going to leave that up to the coach,” said Pierce. “I think practice time is good for us. I think playing together is good for us. But that’s up to the coaching staff, what they say and best preparing us going forward in the playoffs.”
With four games remaining, the Celtics lead the Bucks by three games for the seventh seed. The C’s play three of their final four games on the road, hosting a Pacers squad that has an outside shot at the No. 2 seed between this weekend’s trip to Florida and the regular-season finale in Toronto.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee travels to Atlanta on Friday and Charlotte on Saturday before hosting the Nuggets and visiting Oklahoma City next week. The Bucks own the tiebreaker against the Celtics, so any combination of C’s wins or Milwaukee losses adding up to two clinches the right to avoid Miami until the Eastern Conference finals.
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