|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.
|Courtney Lee returns, Doc Rivers ‘has no idea’ on Kevin Garnett||03.29.13 at 6:45 pm ET|
“I’m not going to start him, but I’m going to play him,” Rivers said. “I’m just going to see the minutes and see how he feels.”
Lee took part in Celtics shootaround on Friday morning and was classified as a “game-time” decision afterward.
“He looked OK in shootaround, but he didn’t have a practice to fall back on, so who knows and we’ll just see,” Rivers said.
Lee made his return with 2:46 left in the first quarter and played into the second quarter before coming out again.
Lee injured his left ankle in the final minute of the loss last Friday night in Dallas. He missed the games against Memphis, New York and Cleveland before playing Friday night.
As for Kevin Garnett, Rivers said he had no further update than what Danny Ainge told Salk & Holley on WEEI Thursday afternoon, that “two weeks should be sufficient time” for his left foot to heal.”
“I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I think two weeks should be enough but if we get to two weeks and it’s two-and-a-half, I don’t want you guys calling me a liar or anything.”
|Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Knicks||03.26.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
J.R. Smith scored 32 points off the bench and Carmelo Anthony added 29 as the Knicks overpowered the undermanned Celtics, 100-85, Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who committed 20 turnovers, lost their fifth straight game and fell to 36-34 and dropped 7.5 games behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic Division. With just 12 games left, it’s almost certain that Boston’s five-year run atop the division will end this season.
Smith outscored Boston’s bench, 32-17, and helped New York to its fifth straight win, improving the Knicks to 43-26 on the season.
The Knicks, meanwhile, relied on a heavy dose of Anthony to keep up with Boston. Anthony had 11 points in the opening quarter and the Knicks scored the final five points of the period to take a 28-24 lead after 12 minutes.
With the game tied, 35-35, the Knicks used a 14-0 run to gain control of the game. Smith went wild in the second quarter, going 5-of-11 from the field and scoring 11 of his 21 first-half points as the Knicks assumed a 58-44 halftime lead.
The Celtics opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt, thanks to threes from Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green, and closed to within eight, 60-52. Green led the Celtics with 19 points while Paul Pierce added 16 before being pulled with six minutes left.
The Celtics couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the quarter and the Knicks used 9-0 run to expand their lead to 78-62 and re-gain control.
The Celtics appeared to have some momentum heading into the fourth quarter when Jason Terry drilled a three with 6.1 seconds remaining but Smith drilled a three over Avery Bradley at the buzzer to give the Knicks an 84-69 lead heading into the final period.
The Knicks built their lead up to 17, at 91-74, with just under eight minutes left in the game. The Celtics never threatened after that.
The injury-riddled Celtics have no time to rest as they hit the road to play in Cleveland Wednesday night. Doc Rivers said before the game that Courtney Lee is doubtful for that game, leaving the Celtics short-handed again. Boston returns home Friday night to take on the Hawks at TD Garden, as the Celtics play five games in seven days.
For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers rules out Courtney Lee while Jordan Crawford starts as Jason Terry prefers bench||at 6:50 pm ET|
In a bit of a surprise announcement, Courtney Lee will miss his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, rolled last Friday night in Dallas. Jordan Crawford will start in his place.
Adding fuel to that fire was Lee’s presence on the court for pre-game shootaround two hours before Tuesday’s tip.
But Rivers announced 45 minutes before the tip with the Knicks that the guard, who had an MRI on Monday, would not be available. Adding to the concern level on Lee is that he is also unlikely to play Wednesday night in Cleveland.
‘No,’ Rivers said in announcing whether Lee would play against New York. Asked if Cleveland were a possibility on Wednesday, Rivers added, ‘I doubt it. I think he may go, but we’ll see.
‘He just didn’t improve much [from Monday]. You pretty much prepare for anything. Just a lot of injuries right now for us, and for [the Knicks].’
Rivers announced Crawford will start in Lee’s place after a talk with Jason Terry in which the veteran guard said he would rather come off the bench.
‘I’m going with Jordan,’ Rivers said. ‘It was more JET really does not like to start. He likes coming off the bench.
‘I talked to JET about it. You could just see it. He likes being in his role. When he knows Courtney will be back, and other guys will be back, so he’d rather just stay in his own role. That’s rare. Most guys love hearing their name called, with the flames and all that. But Jason’s over that at this point in his career. And he really believes he’s better for the team coming off the bench. So that’s refreshing. It’s nice.’
For the Knicks, Tyson Chandler is missing his seventh straight game with a neck injury.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Kevin Garnett expected to miss ‘4-5 games’ with foot injury, Courtney Lee likely to return||03.25.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge confirmed Monday that Garnett will be out for Tuesday’s game against the Knicks.
“Take a couple of Advil and give it some rest,” Ainge said. “Could he play [Tuesday]? Yeah but we’re not playing him [Tuesday]. The time frame, I don’t know but it’s not an ankle sprain but there’s inflammation in the ankle, sort of like an ankle sprain in unpredictability. So I think that it’s not longer than three weeks or it could be a week. I’ll guess two weeks just because we want to make sure he’s really ready. We need to get him fresh anyway.”
Doc Rivers said Garnett aggravated the injury against the Mavericks and the discomfort forced him to miss Saturday’s game in Memphis. He was sent back to Boston for an MRI.
In the meantime, Rivers said it’s likely that Garnett will miss at least “four to five games” with the injury.
“I think we’ll know more later,” Rivers said, referring to the MRI. “I would say doubtful for [Tuesday] but we’ll know more later. I don’t think Kevin is playing [Tuesday]. I’m almost positive of that but then what we want to make sure is that he’s going to be good soon.
“At the end of the day, I want him right, not half-right.”
Rivers said he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending ailment.
“But can he miss four or five games? Yeah that’s probably possible,” Rivers said. “I don’t know that but to me [season-ending] is not a concern. He hurt his foot in that Dallas game. [It’s not season-ending] unless something crazy happens in the MRI that I can tell you the first look, they didn’t see that. At the end of the day, he may miss some games.
“We’re going to err on the right side, whatever they decide. If they give me an option of you can play him every third game or give him two weeks rest, I can tell you right now I am going to say two weeks rest, if it’s my decision.”
Ainge later confirmed Rivers’ estimate, telling reporters at practice that the results of the MRI along with consultation with the team’s medical staff indicate that he’ll likely miss two weeks.
“I’ll guess two weeks, just because we want to make sure he’s really ready” said Ainge, who added that he thought Garnett originally injured the ankle against New Orleans last Wednesday.
“I think it happened in New Orleans game, it was just sore, just inflammation. A lot of things can cause inflammation. I think everyone has a little bit of inflammation this time of year. KG, we need to get him fresh anyway.”
On the bright side, Courtney Lee is expected to return from his sprained left ankle suffered in the final minute of Friday’s loss in Dallas.
Neither player took part in Monday’s practice, which included just 10 healthy Celtics.
Rivers said the Celtics will be forced to go with a smaller lineup that he says includes “no point guards” while the Knicks feature a lineup with two point guards in Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton, with Jason Kidd off the bench.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Teamwork: Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Courtney Lee pick it up in win over Warriors||03.01.13 at 10:00 pm ET|
Paul Pierce scored 26 points and Jeff Green added 18 off the bench as the Celtics overcame foul trouble from Avery Bradley to beat the Golden State Warriors, 94-86, Friday night at TD Garden. Kevin Garnett was just 2-for-10 from the field but finished with a team-high 13 rebounds. The Celtics avenged their ugly 101-83 loss from late December in Oakland. Pierce and Green were the only Boston players to score in double figures.
Stephen Curry scored 54 points earlier in the week in New York against the Knicks, a season-high in the NBA this season. He had scored 94 points in his previous two games but was held to 25 points on Friday night on just 6-of-22 shooting, as the Celtics (31-27) won their eighth straight home game. David Lee had 10 points and a game-best 19 rebounds for the Warriors, who fall to 33-26.
The Celtics used hot shooting early to build a 13-point first-quarter lead. Pierce led the way with 13 points in the opening period. Pierce finished with 18 in the first half. The Warriors, mostly behind the scoring of Curry, worked their way back into the game in the second quarter. Curry drew three fouls on Bradley in the first half and scored 10 points in the second quarter as the Warriors cut Boston’s lead to 50-46 at the half.
The Warriors scored the first two baskets of the third quarter and tied the game. The tide seemed to be turning heavily against the Celtics when Bradley – the player assigned to defend Curry – picked up his fourth and fifth fouls of the game in a 27-second span of the third quarter and had to check out with 8:01 left in the quarter after his fifth foul.
Courtney Lee stepped in and shutdown Curry as the star scored just two points against Lee and the Celtics in the period. The Celtics had another scare when Green landed hard on his left elbow midway through the third and stayed on the ground for several minutes. After coming off the floor on his own power, Green was given a white protective sleeve and returned with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
With Green back and Bradley in foul trouble, the Celtics took command of the game for good, going on a 9-0 run to break a 60-60 tie and take a 69-62 lead into the fourth.
The Celtics are off until Tuesday when they play in Philadelphia. For more from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Courtney Lee: ‘We’re playing hard for Rajon Rondo’||02.03.13 at 5:36 pm ET|
“I wouldn’t say that all,” said Courtney Lee, who replaced Rondo in the C’s starting lineup. “Rondo’s an All-Star. Any time you can add an All-Star to your team, your team is going to be better, so we definitely miss Rondo. We don’t look at it as we’re better off without Rondo, I think we came together and we’re playing hard for Rondo.”
That those remarks come from Lee might come as a surprise to those who listened to Grantland writer Zach Lowe‘s assertion that “Lee has been really unhappy in Boston because he feels like the whole offense is Rondo pounding the ball, and he doesn’t get to do anything.” Lee has since denied the report.
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