|J.R. Smith wins NBA ‘Sixth Man’ award, Jordan Crawford gets a first-place vote, finishes seventh||04.22.13 at 2:31 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Celtics got an up-close and personal look at just how dangerous J.R. Smith can be off the New York bench on March 26.
He scored 32 points and powered the Knicks to a 100-85 win, a victory that was part of New York’s 13-game winning streak at the end of the season that propelled them toward the Atlantic Division title.
On Monday, Smith was honored as the 2012-13 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award as the league’s best player in a reserve role. Smith, who came off the bench in all 80 games in which he appeared, led all reserves in scoring, averaging 18.1 points. Additionally, Smith added 5.3 rebounds per game, 2.7 assits and 1.3 steals in 33.5 minutes per game to a Knicks squad that went 54-28 and earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Smith received 484 of a possible 1,084 points, including 72 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers finished second with 352 points (31 first-place votes). Jarrett Jack of the Golden State Warriors finished third with 170 points (14 first-place votes).
Boston’s Jordan Crawford received a first-place vote and finished seventh.
In order to be eligible for this award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
Smith, who led reserves in 30-point (seven) and 20-point games (29), became the first player with four 30-point games off bench in same month (March) since Ricky Pierce had four in November of 1990. He earned Player of the Week honors for games played March 25-31, leading the Knicks to a 4-0 record with averages of 29.8 points (second in the league), 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals. In Smith’s 80 games, the Knicks enjoyed a +5.3 score differential with him on the court compared with +1.9 when he was on the bench. Read the rest of this entry »
|Monday notes: Doc Rivers says Brandon Bass played ‘the perfect game’ while the bench, not so much||04.22.13 at 2:17 pm ET|
NEW YORK — So what did the Celtics film session reveal on Sunday?
“I thought Brandon played the perfect game for us,” Rivers said. “I thought defensively, he guarded Melo [Carmelo Anthony] well. He took shots when he should have. He moved the ball because they were coming [on traps].”
And it showed that the team’s energy and effort was there.
It also showed one huge area of need – getting Kevin Garnett more involved in the right spots on the court so that the offense doesn’t go into hibernation like it did for the final 13 minutes on Saturday.
“It was good, it was good,” Rivers said. “The film never lies. It didn’t. I thought our guys were great. They saw what we could’ve done and didn’t do. I’m sure New York saw the same things. So, I expect them to have a great game [Tuesday] and I expect us to play better as well.”
After hitting his first two shots from the field, Garnett made just two of his final 10 shots and finished 4-of-12 with eight points.
“He could’ve gotten himself in better spots and that’s again on us, too,” Rivers said. “It’s never one thing, it’s both. We have to create them for him. Kevin can’t dribble or pass to himself. We have to create that for him but listen, they’re still very good defensively. They trap and get down there [on block]. Even if you get him deep, they’re still coming.”
Did film help Garnett himself?
“Yeah, actually it did,” Garnett said. “It was nice session. Obviously, we put some things in, dropped some things. We’ll go over that in practice.”
The mood of the team was good, led by its always-smiling head coach, who as Garnett was talking to Rivers, asked Rajon Rondo if he were going to take part in practice. Rondo – wearing a pair of stylish green beats – was doing what he has been doing for the last two weeks, shooting around with his team and taking in practice and offering insights as he rehabs his reconstructed right ACL.
Now, Rivers is trying to regroup his troops and remind them that there was a lot to be happy about in the first three quarters of Saturday’s loss to the Knicks.
One thing he made clear on Monday was that the energy Saturday was good, just not the execution.
“I’m always pleased with that,” Rivers said. “We played hard, and so did they. We have to play better. It’s like I told our guys, hard is great but hard and smart is more important.”
The perfect example of that was in the third quarter when Lee saved a ball with a behind-the-back pass. But he saved it under the basket the Celtics were defending and into the hands of the Knicks, who easily converted the layup.
“We made a lot of hard plays, even Courtney saves the ball inbounds, he was hustling so you give him an ‘A’ for effort and then the rest of the part is where you have to be smarter as a group. I thought we did a lot of that in the game [on Saturday].” Read the rest of this entry »
|Sunday notes: Celtics need a way to feed Kevin Garnett, get more out of Jason Terry, bench||04.21.13 at 2:08 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday. Instead, they hunkered down in a suite inside the Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan to go over the ugly details of their 85-78 loss to the Knicks in Game 1 Saturday afternoon.
Specifically, what happened in the final 13 minutes, 40 seconds when they scored exactly eight points.
‘I thought, from an offensive standpoint, I didn’t have a lot of different opportunities,” Garnett said. “Obviously, I had shots and stuff. Some went down, some didn’t. But I try not to let that predicate things or my level of play. I thought I moved the ball very well, got other guys open, was able to rebound obviously, trying to be as much of a force as I can on defense. In Game 2, I’d like to be a little more aggressive, obviously, but being consistent with the overall game.’
For the first time in his career, Jason Terry was held scoreless in a playoff game. But Terry was far from alone on an unproductive Boston bench. To Rivers, it was a case of something he likes to call “hero-ball” – where the ball stagnates and teammates watch as one player tries to generate something all by himself.
‘We didn’t do a good job with Terry [Saturday], especially in the second half, there were so many [isolations] that Jason has nothing to do with,” Rivers said. “In the first half, Jason didn’t score, but we ran that play with the pick-and-roll with him and Paul. We scored five times in a row because of Jason Terry’s involvement, so I don’t actually look at if he scored. I look at the points he created, and in the first half he created 12 points. In the second half, it was all ISOs. I mean, it’s not us. We’re not built that way.’
Courtney Lee provided the only four points (all on free throws) as Boston’s reserves were outscored by New York’s bench, 33-4. Boston didn’t get a single field goal from their bench in the entire game.
‘I’m looking for a better overall effort, whether it’s the bench, whether it’s the starters,’ Paul Pierce said. ‘The starters, you look, me and Jeff [Green] had 12 turnovers ‘ just us two. We have to be better, regardless of our bench. Overall as a team, we have to be better.’
Rivers acknowledged that he might look to shake up a bench rotation was limited solely to Terry, Jordan Crawford and Lee. Rivers said he would consider adding a big man to the rotation, either Shav Randolph or Chris Wilcox. Crawford played just 10 minutes, 46 seconds, including just over three minutes in the second half.
“I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half,” Rivers said. “It’s funny, he didn’t score, but he created baskets. And, I’ll tell you, he’s buying in defensively and if he can continue to do that, then he has a chance to help us.”
Speaking of the Four Seasons Hotel, that’s also where Rivers’ old friend Tom Thibodeau and Chicago Bulls are spending their weekend in the Big Apple. Their Saturday was even worse in Brooklyn as they were down by 25 at halftime and lost Game 1 at Barclays Center. They will play Game 2 Monday night in Brooklyn.
‘It’s not a good hotel today,’ Rivers said in dark humor. ‘Two losing teams, I think one should leave. This was a quiet, dark hotel last night. The New York area teams didn’t treat the guests very well.”
While Rivers expects the Celtics to execute better in Game 2 Tuesday night, he expects the same of the Knicks, who shot just 40.5 percent and had two starters (Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland) who went scoreless. J.R. Smith, who torched the Celtics for 32 in late March at TD Garden, made just 7-of-19 shots and finished with 15.
‘They’re going to play better, too,’ Rivers said. ‘J.R. Smith missed a couple open 3s. [Steve] Novak didn’t get involved. So we have to anticipate them playing way better, and then we have to play way better. And that’s what, in the playoffs, you just have to anticipate that.’
The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday but will on Monday at Madison Square Garden in advance of Game 2.
|Jeff Green: ‘We just got tired, I guess’||04.20.13 at 8:29 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The numbers were so obviously bad no one could avoid them afterward.
Add them all up and you get Knicks 85, Celtics 78 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden.
What did the Celtics have to say for themselves afterward?
“We turned the ball over a ton and I thought our spacing was horrendous in the second half,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ” I thought each guy held the ball and tried to make their own play and I talked about that before the game. That’s not who we are. We can’t be that way, and we tried to play that way in the second half. I really couldn’t get them out of it, either, so that was disappointing.
“We had bad turnovers. If we had those turnovers in any game, you probably should lose the game, and we did.”
Pierce: “Some [turnovers] were forced, some were just bonehead plays. We have got to have better execution. Everyone has to know where they’ve got to be on the floor. Everyone has to get to their spots, understand when we get to the fourth quarter, everyone has to be on the same page. Games are too big at this point for us to be at that point, especially in the playoffs down the stretch.”
Green: “We just got tired, I guess. We just have to figure out a way to close out quarters and close out the game. We were in a great position to take over the game, to win the game. Turnovers killed us.”
|Carmelo Anthony: Booing Paul Pierce pre-game was not ‘the right thing to do’||04.20.13 at 7:36 pm ET|
NEW YORK — New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 points in New York’s 85-78 Game 1 win over the Boston Celtics Saturday at Madison Square Garden, says it was wrong of some New York fans to boo Paul Pierce before the game as both Anthony and Pierce addressed the crowd to pay tribute to the City of Boston, which was attacked this past week and held hostage on Friday.
Anthony spoke to the crowd just moments before the national anthem and stood at mid-court, just a short distance away from the color guard, which was presented by the Boston Fire Department. He received a big ovation for his tribute to the people of Boston, saying, “our prayers are with the City of Boston.”
But then, as Pierce was introduced, some in the crowd booed the Celtics captain before other New York fans quieted them down with their own cheers.
“I don’t think that was the right thing to do, boo somebody like that,” Anthony said after the game. “At the end of the day, we all know what happened in Boston. Our prayers go out to the families and the City of Boston. In a situation like today, we all want … it’s all about the U.S. It’s our country. And it’s sad we have to go through unfortunate tragedies like that. Whoever booed him shouldn’t have booed him, not in a situation like that.”
|Turnover tale: Celtics drop Game 1 to Knicks||04.20.13 at 5:32 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony was just too much.
Anthony scored a game-high 36 points while J.R. Smith added 15 as the Knicks beat the Celtics, 85-78, Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.
The Celtics scored just 25 points in the second half, including just eight in the fourth quarter. They had three more turnovers (10) in the second half than field goals (7).
After the Celtics scored the first four points of the game, the Knicks went on a 12-2 run as Anthony started off on fire. He hit a pair of threes and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, scoring 10 points in the opening four minutes of the game. But the Celtics responded and quieted the crowd for the rest of the quarter, taking a 29-26 lead after one as Green drilled a three at the buzzer.
The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure on Anthony and the Knicks in the second quarter as Anthony missed nine of his next 11 shots from the floor. Coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, took Green off Anthony defensively, allowing him to get into an offensive rhythm. The result was immediately felt. He scored 12 of his 20 first-half points in the second quarter as the Celtics took a 53-49 halftime lead. Green was on fire in the first half, going 7-of-10 from the field. Avery Bradley (11) and Paul Pierce (10, six assists) were the only other in double figures in the first 24 minutes.
The Knicks scored the first five points of the third quarter to regain the lead but the Celtics used an 11-1 run late in the third quarter to built their biggest lead, 70-63, capped off when Pierce hit a long pull-up three.
Kevin Garnett’s turnaround over Kenyon Martin with just over eight minutes left tied the game, 72-72. Anthony responded on the next possession to give the Knicks the lead again.
Anthony hit a jumper over Green to put the Knicks up four, 76-72, before Pierce responded with a tough jumper with 6:03 left. But then, in a pivotal moment of the game, J.R. Smith drove to the basket and converted a layup with 5:44 left and drew the fifth foul on Kevin Garnett.
Pierce hit a jumper with 4:34 to close Boston within three, 79-76. But on consecutive possessions the Knicks missed open looks at threes and the Celtics were unable to execute offensively. Anthony’s layup with 2:31 left put New York up, 81-76.
Smith had a key steal of an Bradley pass to Pierce with just under four minutes left but Raymond Felton missed a wide-open three. Pierce missed a three that would have tied the game with just over three minutes left. Anthony hit a long two-point jumper over Green with 1:21 left to give the Knicks an 83-76 lead.
Game 2 is Tuesday night back at Madison Square Garden at 8 p.m. before the series shifts back to Boston next Friday. For complete coverage from Madison Square Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: Kevin Garnett has ‘no limitations’ while the bench is a great unknown||04.20.13 at 4:46 pm ET|
“Kevin is great,” Rivers reassured everyone when asked about the physical well being of his 36-year-old big man. “No limitations. Kevin is fine.”
What the playoffs also mean is the no more five-minute in-out rotations for Garnett and no more worries about playing him 25-30 minutes a game.
“That’s nice,” Rivers said of the change. “The five-minute rotation thing with Kevin, you do it because you have to get through the season but it’s horrendous. Teams were game-planning against it. It got to a silly point at times. Kevin would come out and teams would bring in their big back in and we knew we couldn’t bring him back in. That’s gone now. It’s basketball. We still want to limit his minutes, 40 [laughs] or 35 but not this set rotation of minutes for him. And that makes it so much more difficult to game plan against our second unit.
“Rotations are easy when you can play the better player more minutes. That’s not hard. It’s when everybody is even and you’re trying to figure out who to play. I’ll have no problem playing Kevin more minutes. I think that’s easy. And honestly, I’ll have no problem playing someone else less if Kevin can play more so that’s not a problem at all.”
What remains to be seen is how the bench adjusts over the course of a seven-game series. Jordan Crawford and Jason Terry were the first of the bench Saturday and then Courtney Lee was on the floor as the second quarter began, playing with Terry and Crawford, as Rivers went with a very small lineup.
“I don’t know, honestly,” Rivers said when asked what he’s expecting from his role players in crunch time. “We clearly want to shorten our bench but I think in this case, because we have so many guys who are almost equal, it’s going be short but it’s going to be different guys [coming off bench in rotation].
“You just prepare them in what you have to do as a team. They’re going to hear advice from the rest of the guys, Kevin, Paul, JET and at the end of the day, they probably throw most of it out and you go out and play in the game. After Game 1, I’m sure some of the guys are going to find something out and as a coach, I’m just hoping what they find out is really good. But even if they find out something really bad, you hope they can learn from it and move on from it. I try not to overdo it. There’s guys who I don’t know how they’ll be in this atmosphere and I’ll find that out, too.”
Is there a concern some might be overwhelmed?
“You can never sense that,” Rivers said. “You have to wait until the game is played. Guys have horrendous week of practice and you’re on them all week to learn sets and then they get into games and all of sudden it clicks and I’ve seen just the exact opposite. You just don’t know.”
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