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Paul Pierce: ‘I had a certain calmness’ about Game 4 04.28.13 at 9:17 pm ET
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Paul Pierce (here in Game 2) wouldn't let the Celtics go without a fight in Game 4. (AP)

Paul Pierce (here in Game 2) wouldn’t let the Celtics go without a fight in Game 4. (AP)

Paul Pierce wasn’t preoccupied with “what-ifs” heading into an elimination game Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. What if the Celtics lost? Could this be the last game in a Celtics uniform for the captain who is signed through next season.

“To be honest, I was calm,” Pierce said. “I had a certain calmness about the game today,” Pierce said after scoring a team-high 29 points in a 97-90 overtime win against the Knicks that kept the season alive and sent the series back to New York for Game 5 Wednesday night.

Pierce played nine seconds shy of 50 minutes on this day that his Celtics career might have ended. He didn’t want it to end like this, on his home court, blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and missing a trademark iso shot that would’ve won the game in regulation.

“Yeah you know every game is tough in the playoffs,” Pierce said. “We had a sizable lead, but we understood that they could make a run. They’re a good team. But you know, we gotta limit their runs. We gotta be better, especially in the third quarter. That’s been our Achilles heel in this series, and so hopefully we can look to improve upon that in Game 5.”

Pride is a word that gets thrown around a lot but the Celtics showed a lot of it in the fourth quarter when the Knicks had already gotten back into the game and could sense the kill. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry rallied the troops.

“Yeah, there was a lot of pride,” Pierce said. “Us, as [leaders] of the team, we’ve got to instill it in these guys. You saw with the attitude before the game, we knew we were gonna come out with the force we did today, and it carried over into the game. And this crowd. You gotta give a hand to this crowd. They really gave us a boost. Everytime I look up there, you feel it, you see it, you hear it; there’s just so much pride when you look around, the banners, the crowd and everything going on with the Boston Celtics history.”

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OT save: Jason Terry leads the C’s to win and Game 5 at 4:05 pm ET
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Jeff Green (8) and the Celtics were all over Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks early. (AP)

Jeff Green (8) and the Celtics were all over Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks early. (AP)

The Celtics live to fight another day.

Jason Terry nailed a go-ahead three with 90 seconds left in overtime and scored Boston’s final seven points as the Celtics overcame blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and beat the Knicks, 97-90, in Game 4 Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. With the win, the Celtics stave off elimination and will play the Knicks in Game 5 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, trailing the series, 3-1.

In a season filled with a record 11 overtime games, Game 4 appropriately came down to an extra period.

Paul Pierce scored 29, Jeff Green added 26 and Kevin Garnett chipped in with 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Celtics, who blew a 20-point third quarter lead. Carmelo Anthony had 36 points while Raymond Felton added 27 for New York, which was playing without the suspended J.R. Smith.

For the third time in the series, the Celtics took a halftime lead but this time Celtics were overpowering in building their advantage. The Celtics shot 50 percent in the first quarter, as Pierce led the way with seven points and the Celtics led, 22-17 after one.

Pierce led the charge against the Knicks in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 17 first-half points. Led by a pair of Pierce threes late, Boston went on a 19-6 run to end the second quarter and grabbed a 54-35 halftime lead. The Knicks were extremely sloppy in the first half, committing 13 turnovers.

Green was also huge in the second quarter, scoring nine of his 15 first-half points and helping Boston outscore New York, 32-18. It took four games but the Celtics produced their best half of offensive basketball, making 20-of-39 shots (51.3 percent).

Fouls became a huge issue in the third quarter.

Garnett, Green all picked up their fourth fouls in the first four minutes. The Knicks were in the bonus with 7:12 left in the third quarter. Still, the Celtics managed a 20-point lead at 59-39. But the Knicks – led by Raymond Felton – finally got hot from 3-point range.

Carmelo Anthony’s jumper with 6:44 left in the third capped an 8-0 Knicks run and cut the lead to 12, 59-47. After a Green layup, the Knicks collected a loose ball rebound and Raymond Felton drilled a three, cutting Boston’s lead to 11, 61-50.

Anthony was called for his fourth foul moments later and the Celtics regained momentum, building the lead back to 14. But Felton hit his third three with three minutes left in the quarter to pare the lead down to 10, 65-55. Anthony came out of the game with 3:35 left in the third and the Knicks down, 14. Without their MVP, Felton and Iman Shumpert led the Knicks on a 14-3 surge to end the third quarter, including a three with 0.2 seconds left in quarter as Boston led by just three, 68-65, heading into the final quarter. Terry hit another jumper with 50.4 second left to re-establish the three-point lead, 93-90.

After a Garnett free throw on an illegal defense call, Anthony hit a layup to cut the Boston lead to two. Pierce answered with a deep three with 9:40 left to put Boston up, 72-67. An Iman Shumpert steal of Pierce and layup with 7:16 left tied the game, 74-74.
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Fast Break: Knicks blowout leaves Celtics staggering 04.26.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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The Celtics submitted another miserable offensive effort, shooting worse than 40 percent from the field, and fell into a 3-0 hole against the Knicks with a 90-76 loss in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. Kevin Garnett totaled 12 points and 17 rebounds, Jeff Green gave them 21 points and eight boards, and Jason Terry and Paul Pierce combined to score 24 of their 31 points in the second half, but none of it mattered in a game the Knicks led by as many as 21 points. Here’s all that went awry.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Everything: When 31 points in the first half is an improvement from their last half of basketball, the Celtics are in trouble. After scoring 23 points in the second half of Game 2, the C’s managed just 31 points in the first two quarters on Friday night. They shot 35 percent from the field (14-40) and committed three more turnovers (9) than they had assists (6) at the break. Outside of Garnett and Green, who combined to score 17 of those 31 points, the Celtics shot 6-of-22 (27 FG%) thanks to an offense that featured a string of failed turnaround jump shots.

Lineups: To the surprise of pretty much everyone, Doc Rivers inserted Terry into the starting lineup in place of Brandon Bass. The move failed miserably, as the Celtics found themselves in a 16-9 hole when Rivers replaced Terry with Courtney Lee with 4:20 left in the opening quarter. This after the Celtics coach benched Lee in favor of Jordan Crawford in Game 2. At one point in the second quarter — as Garnett, Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph sat on the bench — Green guarded 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler. Odd moves all.

Pierce: After carrying the load in Games 1 and 2, Pierce looked cooked. He shot 2-of-10 in the miserable first half, committing three turnovers in that span and bumbling another handful of balls. And then started the third quarter by throwing the ball to Raymond Felton. The Celtics looked old, tired and slow, and Pierce epitomized all of it. He battled, as he always does, but his tank was running on empty.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Garnett: As usual, Garnett came out like a wild man, nearly notching his double-double by halftime. Why the Celtics didn’t feed him more was a mystery. KG played his manic defense, too, neutralizing Chandler and Kenyon Martin. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony (26 points), J.R. Smith (15 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter) and Felton (15 points) continued to force their will upon the rest of the C’s. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Garnett gave them that. The Celtics just didn’t have the personnel to match the Knicks.

Green: While everything crumbled around him, Green gave the Celtics everything they had hoped for all season. He attacked the basket and cleaned the glass, making an impact in the flow of the game while playing the majority of his minutes alongside both Pierce and Garnett. Green was supposed to be the X-factor in this series, but instead he’s been one of the only factors. Exhibit 326: Smith has outscored the entire Celtics bench 49-33 in the series.

Rebounding: At least the Celtics did something well. Pierce and Bass aided Garnett and Green on the glass, each grabbing at least four boards by halftime. The C’s out-rebounded the Knicks 41-37 for the game and here’s the real shocker: They even grabbed more offensive boards than New York (11-6). Of course, their inability to make baskets gave them plenty of opportunities for offensive rebounds.

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Deep hole: Sloppy C’s in 3-0 hole after Knicks shoot their way to another win at 10:33 pm ET
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Jeff Green (8) couldn't match up Carmelo Anthony (7) and the Knicks in Game 3. (AP)

Jeff Green (8) couldn’t match up Carmelo Anthony (7) and the Knicks in Game 3. (AP)

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 »

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Bad sequel: C’s repeat their horrific Game 1, fall again to Knicks in Game 2 04.23.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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J.R. Smith shoots over Jordan Crawford Tuesday in New York in Game 2. (AP)

J.R. Smith shoots over Jordan Crawford Tuesday in New York in Game 2. (AP)

NEW YORK — Another horrific second-half drought. Another very bad result for the Celtics.

Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, NBA “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith added 19 while Raymond Felton (16 points) chipped in with several big drives to the basket, as the Knicks beat the Celtics, 87-71, in Game 2 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The series now shifts back to Boston with the Celtics, down 0-2, facing a virtual must-win on Friday night at TD Garden.

Paul Pierce scored 18 while Kevin Garnett added a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) for the Celtics, who suffered through another horrendous second-half drought, blowing a nine-point lead late in the first half to fall two games down to the Atlantic Division champs. After scoring just 25 points in the second half Saturday in Game 1, and eight in the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored just 11 points in the third quarter and finished the second half with just 23 points, the lowest second-half scoring output in team playoff history since the introduction of the shot clock.

The Celtics appeared to have momentum early. They built a 20-15 lead in the first quarter on Jason Terry‘s first field goal of the series. After going 0-for-5 in Game 1, Terry’s 3-pointer was the first of three treys in the first half. But the Knicks then ran off the next 12 points, closing the first quarter on an 11-0 run, thanks in part to a troubling turn at the end of the period.

Smith hit a jumper with 6.8 seconds left to put the Knicks up 23-20. Pierce committed a turnover and the Knicks found Smith, who drained a 36-foot three at the buzzer, putting the Knicks up 26-20.

After the Knicks went up 27-20, the Celtics answered with the next 11 points as Terry led a resurgent bench. When Pierce hit a 12-foot turnaround with 1:02 left in the second quarter, Boston had its biggest lead, 48-39. That would be the last time the Celtics had control.

The Knicks scored the final three points as another Pierce turnover kept Boston from building momentum at the half. As hot as the Celtics were in shooting 11-of-18 from the field in the second quarter, the Knicks were just as cold, making just 4-of-17 shots.

Those three points at the end of the first half started a remarkable turnaround for New York. Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes to open the third quarter as the Knicks exploded on a 29-6 run. Before the third quarter was over, the Knicks had outscored the Celtics 32-11, building their lead up to 15, 74-59, heading into the fourth. It was a complete role reversal for the two teams in the third, as the Celtics made just 4-of-18 while the Knicks were blazing hot, converting 12-of-17 from the field.

Pierce rattled in a three with 9:47 to cut New York’s lead down to 11, 76-65. Jordan Crawford hit a jumper over Steve Novak with 9:15 left and Boston trimmed the deficit to single digits, 76-67.

Following a Knicks timeout, Anthony hit a shot over Garnett with 8:56 left to put the Knicks up, 78-67. After two Garnett free throws, it was Anthony again with a jumper. The Garden crowd exploded when Felton fed Smith with 7:52 left for an alley-oop dunk putting New York ahead, 82-69. After Garnett picked up his fifth foul with 6:28 left, Felton hit a mid-range jumper at the free throw line to put New York up, 84-69.

Pierce and Garnett came out with just over four minutes left as the Celtics conceded their second straight playoff loss in New York. With the Knicks up, 2-0, the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday night at 8 p.m. at TD Garden. Game 4 will also be played in Boston (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

For more from Mike Petraglia with the Celtics in New York, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Tuesday shootaround: Jeff Green says C’s ‘can still play good without force-feeding’ Kevin Garnett at 11:45 am ET
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Jeff Green felt relaxed and comfortable at Tuesday morning's shootaround at Madison Square Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jeff Green felt relaxed and comfortable at Tuesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

NEW YORK — Jeff Green isn’t necessarily buying into the theory that the Celtics have to get Kevin Garnett involved on every possession he’s on the court for the Celtics to have a chance of tying the series, 1-1.

“I think we have one of the best coaches [Doc Rivers] in the league who can figure out the adjustment and how we can still play good without force-feeding [Garnett],” Green said Tuesday morning prior to the team’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.

But Green added later that an established Garnett in the post will clearly increase the chances of Boston walking out of MSG with a victory in Game 2 Tuesday night.

“Well, to make it easier for him in the post, I’ve got to continue to be aggressive off the dribble, trying to get to get to the rim, because if I do that it’s going to take a man [to guard me] in the post and open up a lane for Kevin,” Green said.

Green scored a team-high 26 points and played nearly 46 minutes in Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the New York Knicks. Rivers Green also said he needs to work through the fatigue to remain productive. Green scored 20 points in the first half but only six in the second half as the Celtics offense went cold. Green split time with Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass in guarding Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 but needed 29 shots to do so.

“I just have to do it. I have to play through the fatigue,” Green said. “I have to continue to look for mine, basically. There’s no excuses now. I want to be out there. I want to compete. I want to play against the best. I want to guard Carmelo. I want to do it all. It’s something I just have to get through.

“Just continue to be more aggressive in the open court, that’s about it. Defensively, continue to make everything for Carmelo tough, keep him off the offensive boards and get all the 50-50 plays.”

Green is confident that if he remains aggressive, the offensive – and points – will continue to flow for him.

“I got to the free throw line,” said Green, who made all seven free throws Saturday. “I made a couple of shots outside on the perimeter to get me going and I got some layups in transition. That’s how you get yourself going. That’s how you get a rhythm.”

Told that Anthony feels this is a “must-win” game for the Knicks before the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday, Green said Boston feels the same way.

“Every game is a must-win game,” Green said. “It’s the playoffs. That’s the only way you can move on is to win. We go into every game thinking it’s a must-win.”

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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
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NEW YORK — So what did the Celtics film session reveal on Sunday?

To Doc Rivers, it showed that Brandon Bass “played the perfect game” in the Game 1 loss. It showed that Jordan Crawford did a lot of positive things in his first career postseason game.

“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 »

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