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Doc Rivers puts Brandon Bass back in starting lineup for Jason Terry 04.28.13 at 12:29 pm ET
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Noting that he really likes his defense on Carmelo Anthony, Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced that he is re-inserting Brandon Bass into the starting lineup, as Jason Terry heads back to his more customary role off the bench.

Bass will join Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green in the starting lineup.

“I just like Brandon on Melo more,” Rivers said. “Like I said [Saturday], the smaller lineup, the numbers actually say it’€™s better, but I like our defense better the other way.”

The Celtics will face a Knicks team in Game 4 that will be without “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith, suspended for the game after throwing an elbow in the face of Terry with seven minutes left in Game 3. Smith, who was averaging 16.3 points in the first three games, was assessed a “Flagrant Foul 2″ for the violation and was suspended by the NBA on Saturday.

What will be the biggest impact of the Knicks losing their second-leading scorer?

“Listen, he’€™s one of their other guys that can create shots and, especially in the playoffs, you need a guy,” Rivers said. “You think about what we’€™ve done good in this series, the Knicks are being held 13 points under their normal [scoring] average. And J.R. Smith has played well, because in the playoffs you take teams out of their stuff, and it comes down to guys creating shots for themselves and others. Well, Melo does that, [Raymond Felton] has done that, and J.R. Smith does that. Now they don’€™t have one of those guys.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to take the first step on the path to NBA history as no team has ever overcome an 0-3 hole in the postseason.

“Obviously when one team is in an elimination situation, and the other team is not, it’€™s mental really for both,” Rivers said. “I’€™m not going to concern myself with their mental, but with ours, it’€™s all mental, it always is.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry
NBA suspends J.R. Smith for Game 4 04.27.13 at 9:54 pm ET
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On the eve of what could be a series-clinching sweep in Game 4, Knicks guard J.R. Smith has been suspended by the NBA for one game without pay for throwing an elbow and striking the chin of Celtics‘€™ guard Jason Terry. Stu Jackson, Executive Vice President for Basketball Operations made the announcement.

The incident, for which Smith was assessed a Flagrant Foul Two and ejected, occurred with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter of New York’€™s 90-76 win over Boston last night, at the TD Garden.

Smith will serve his suspension when the Knicks face the Celtics at the TD Garden on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the Knicks needing just one more win to complete the series sweep.

Smith, who was honored before Game 2 on Tuesday as the NBA “Sixth Man of the Year”, has been New York’s second-leading scorer in the series (16.3) for the Knicks behind Carmelo Anthony.

Read More: Boston Celtics, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry, NBA
Paul Pierce: ‘I thought we wanted it so bad, we were so anxious’ 04.27.13 at 1:18 am ET
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Sometimes you can want something so bad, you hurt your chances of accomplishing your goals.

Such was the case for Paul Pierce and the Celtics before a TD Garden crowd desperate to rally behind them in light of the Boston Marathon tragedy of the last two weeks. The Celtics came out flat and never recovered in a 90-76 loss to the Knicks that leaves them in a 3-0 hole from which no NBA team has ever overcome.

From the opening 15 seconds when Pierce and Kevin Garnett missed layups at the basket and Avery Bradley missed an open 3-point shot, the Celtics looked like they were pressing all night.

‘€œI thought there was a lot of energy in the building,” Pierce said. “I thought we wanted it so bad, we were so anxious. You want it so bad and you rush, and get real anxious. And I thought that’€™s what we did tonight. I thought we played hard, had some good looks. The ball just didn’€™t bounce our way.’€

The Celtics have not scored 80 points in any of their three games of the series, becoming the first Celtics team in playoff history to achieve that bit of unwanted history.

‘€œThe Knicks are really doing a good job on defense, trying to take us out of our offense,” Pierce said. “I think our 3-point game hasn’€™t really been there the whole series. We haven’€™t really got to the line a ton. But we have got to figure it out. We have got to do a better job of knocking down open shots, we’€™ve got to get to the free throw line, got to move the ball. Can’€™t turn the ball over. We turned the ball over a lot tonight and I think that’€™s something that’€™s biting us.’€

Indeed, the Celtics committed 18 turnovers resulting in 26 New York points while the Knicks committed just 11 resulting in only eight points.

‘€œYou know, I was surprised. I thought we were a team that matched up really well with the Knicks. I thought we played them pretty good throughout the season. We lost a couple close ones but I didn’€™t expect this coming in. I knew this would probably be a long series being the way we matched up, so I am surprised we are down 0-3 right now.’€

Does Pierce believe the Celtics can accomplish history?

‘€œYeah. I think that’€™s all it’€™s going to take right now, one game at a time,” Pierce said. “That’€™s got to be the focus. We’€™re going to look ahead, the focus is Sunday, and then we’€™ll go from there.

‘€œI think it was tough because you try to make a run and then they make a big three. You miss wide open shots, you miss a layup, then they make a tough basket. You get yourself in those types of situations and it gets tougher. You look at each other, you look down, some guys lose their confidence. But you have got to stick with it and understand it’€™s hard, it’€™s not easy. It’€™s going to be difficult. The playoffs are hard to win and we’€™ve got to figure out a way to grind through.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, New York Knicks, Paul Pierce
Deep hole: Sloppy C’s in 3-0 hole after Knicks shoot their way to another win 04.26.13 at 10:33 pm ET
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Another 3-0 playoff hole to a New York team. But the Celtics don’t exactly feel like the 2004 Red Sox.

The Celtics committed 18 turnovers and the Knicks turned that into 24 points while Carmelo Anthony scored 26 to lead the Knicks to a 90-76 win in Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden. The Knicks were blazing hot from 3-point range, hitting 11-of-26 attempts from beyond the arc in taking a commanding 3-0 hole in the series.

The Knicks outscored the Celtics, 24-8, in points off turnovers while Jeff Green led all Boston scorers with 21 points. Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 17 rebounds while Paul Pierce had 17 points for the Celtics, who have yet to break 80 points in three games in the series. It is the worst offensive output in Celtics’ playoff history.

J.R. Smith, who scored 15 off the bench, was called for a “Flagrant 2″ foul with just over seven minutes left in the game. He was ejected for throwing an elbow in the face of Jason Terry.

The Celtics shooting woes from the second half of Game 2 continued early on in Game 3. The shot just 34.8 percent in the first quarter while the Knicks came out on fire from long distance.

The tone of the game was set in the first 15 seconds of the game. The Celtics won the tip and Pierce broke free under the basket for a layup. He missed the shot. Garnett missed the easy put-back and Avery Bradley missed a wide-open three from the right baseline.

Pablo Prigioni got the Knicks long-distance game going in the first quarter, hitting a pair of threes as the Knicks held a 23-18 lead after one.

In between the first and second quarter, the Garden crowd gave a standing ovation to first responders, police and other heroes who assisted victims and helped the community through the Boston Marathon tragedies of a week earlier. It was Boston’s first home game in 16 days and the first Celtics game since the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15.

When the game resumed in the second half, New York continued their torrid shooting. The Knicks shot 10-of-18 while Boston converted just 6-of-17 shots and were outscored 24-13 in the quarter as the Knicks took a 47-31 halftime lead. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry
Game 3 pregame: Kevin Garnett feels ‘good’, Avery Bradley battles through illness, Jason Terry starts for Brandon Bass 04.26.13 at 7:39 pm ET
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Asked if he would make any changes to the starting lineup, Doc Rivers said “we’ll see.”

As it turned out, there was a change as Jason Terry took the place of Brandon Bass to start the game.

Rivers also announced 45 minutes before Friday’s Game 3 with the Knicks that Kevin Garnett felt “good” in Thursday’s practice and kept pestering him to practice more. Rivers was playing it cautious with his star after Garnett injured his right hip in the Game 2 loss on Tuesday night.

As for Avery Bradley, Rivers explained his tardiness to Thursday’s practice was due to an illness, which kept him on the sidelines for most of practice. “We gave him a TUMS and told him not to do too much.”

Rivers said he wasn’t sure whether Bradley would start but that he is feeling “good” and would likely be available at close to 100 percent.

As for his $25,000 fine on Thursday from the NBA for criticizing officials after Game 2, Rivers said, “Like I said to [NBA security], I didn’t get fined for being wrong, I got fined for saying it.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Thursday notes: Doc Rivers declares ‘he’s Paul Pierce, not Christopher Reeve’ 04.25.13 at 4:07 pm ET
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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.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Christopher Reeve, Doc Rivers, NBA playoffs
Doc Rivers fined $25,000 for criticizing officials after Game 2 04.25.13 at 2:14 pm ET
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Sticking up for Kevin Garnett has cost Doc Rivers a pretty penny.

The Celtics head coach has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating, Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President Basketball Operations, announced on Thursday.

Rivers made his comments in the postgame press conference following the Celtics’€™ 87-71 loss to the New York Knicks on April 23 at Madison Square Garden.

Specifically, he was critical of the trio of David Jones, Rodney Mott and Derrick Stafford for what he termed “horrendous” foul calls on Garnett that he said had a “huge effect” on the Celtics in their 87-71 loss to the Knicks in Game 3.

Garnett was called for three fouls in the first half and had five fouls midway through the fourth quarter, when he came out of the game.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA officials
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