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‘Brilliant’ Pablo Prigioni returns for Game 2, Doc Rivers talks road toughness 04.23.13 at 8:25 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Pablo Prigioni, who did not play in Game 1, returned Tuesday night from a sprained right ankle and will start for the Knicks against the Celtics in Game 2.

What does the return of Prigioni to the Knicks starting lineup mean Doc Rivers?

“Well, it just gives them another decision-maker. He’s brilliant,” Rivers said. “He’s another Jason Kidd-ish-type guy. It just gives them another smart player on the floor and another guy that can create plays. That makes them really good. It’s no coincidence that when he’s in the lineup they play better because they have a lot of IQ on the floor at the same time.”

“He gives us a guy who can help run our team, and gives us a defensive presence out front guarding the ball,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, adding there won’t be a minutes restriction. “Not at all. He’s practiced the past few days and moved around real well. I think he’s going to be fine.”

Prigioni came out and guarded Avery Bradley while Raymond Felton was on Paul Pierce.

“We’re going to attack whoever guards Paul,” Rivers said. “I’m sure [Mike Woodson] is thinking the same thing, it doesn’t matter who’s guarding Paul because Paul’s going to get the ball in the post. They’re going to come trap. I hope there’s an advantage there but I don’t know if there is.”

With Prigioni returning to action, that sent Chris Copeland to the bench.

Rivers said the 72 hours is a long time to wait between playoff games but there’s no better city to spend it in if you’re on the road then in New York.

“You never know but I think pretty well,” Rivers said when asked how he thought his team handled it. “Obviously, especially on the road, you’d rather get right back at it. You just feel like you’re sitting around the room and things like that, but obviously being in New York helps in some ways. It’s not a bad city to hang out in, go have dinner so I think we’ll be ready.”

Rivers is hopeful his team can channel the 2008 team in terms of toughness and the 2010 team that found a way on the road.

“I was going into the ’08 playoffs because we literally had the easiest year you could possibly have,” Rivers said. “We won every game it felt like and didn’t get tested a lot. I was concerned going into the playoffs with a team, even though they were really good, that didn’t get tested. I thought Game 6 in Atlanta we came apart a little bit.”

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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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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
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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.

Part of the issue, admitted coach Doc Rivers, was not efficiently feeding Kevin Garnett, and forcing it to him when he wasn’t open, leading to the avalanche of turnovers that led to their demise.

“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.

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Jeff Green: ‘We just got tired, I guess’ 04.20.13 at 8:29 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The numbers were so obviously bad no one could avoid them afterward.

  • 21 turnovers leading to 20 New York points, nearly 25 percent of the Knicks total on the day.
  • Six turnovers each by starters Paul Pierce and Jeff Green.
  • 3 more turnovers (10) in the second half than field goals (7).
  • New York’s bench out-scored Boston’s reserves 33-4.
  • 25 points in the second half, eight in the fourth quarter.
  • Boston led 70-63 with 1:20 left in the third. They were outscored 22-8 in the final 13 minutes, 40 seconds.

    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.”

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    Doc Rivers: ‘Emotionally, it could go either way’ at 2:47 pm ET
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    NEW YORK — Doc Rivers admitted before Game 1 Saturday that his team didn’t have the best of practices on Friday at Columbia University, on the eve of the team’s first postseason game this year.

    He also was very understanding of the players wanting to follow the events going on 200 miles away in Boston.

    “[Friday] was a strange day,” Rivers said. “You’re going to practice and you hear guys on the phone and literally everyone is calling home, yelling or you could hear them saying, ‘Stay in the house!’ And we’re going to practice and I even told our staff, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes in practice today. There’s no way their focus is where it should be. And you felt that going into practice. And, honestly, we were right, practice played out that way.

    “So I don’t know. Thank gosh it’s over, in that regards. It was good to see everybody in the city happy, hugging and rejoicing. And I’m sure our players had a chance to exhale, because their families are still back there. [Rajon Rondo] was supposed to join us yesterday, and he couldn’t even get out. He was locked in and had to stay in himself. What does that do for us today, I have no idea? I think, emotionally, it could go either way.”

    Rivers and his staff are ready to handle the situation, good or bad, during the course of the game.

    “Hopefully we can figure out a way, if it’s not going the right way, to gather them right and get it back,” Rivers said. “Thank gosh it’s a four-quarter game because I’m always worried about any team, even if it wasn’t for this, being too emotionally high at the beginning of a game. Because you still have to finish the game. We’ll see.”

    Speaking of Rondo, after being locked down on Friday, the injured point guard made his way down to the Big Apple on Saturday and is with the team for the start of the playoffs. Rivers definitely likes him around the team.

    “I want him around,” Rivers said. “He’s a good mind. He’s a great, great mind. And he knows the game. He’s a smart kid. People have no idea his IQ, they really don’t. It’s funny right now, even after our shootaround, he’s into it.”

    With Pablo Prigioni [sprained ankle] is out for the Knicks, Chris Copeland moves into the staring lineup. The Knicks will go with a starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert, to go along with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.

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    Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We have to make [Carmelo Anthony] work for it’ 04.18.13 at 11:00 am ET
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    Doc Rivers

    Doc Rivers

    With the regular season over and the playoffs starting Saturday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and discussed his experience during the Boston Marathon bombing, the team’s matchup with the Knicks, and how to stop Carmelo Anthony.

    When the two explosions went off at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Rivers had just finished up his team’s practice and was planning on heading for the conclusion of the race.

    “I just noticed people, literally running around,” Rivers said. “Then my phone rang and I think it was my assistant who told me what was going on. Obviously I didn’t have any hardship personally except for trying to navigate through people. What I witnessed more was just how quickly, in my opinion, the city went to work. I’m not talking just the first responders. What I did get to witness, it felt like hundreds, it wasn’t, but it felt like hundreds of ambulances, fire trucks roaring by me because I was on Huntington Avenue, which is the next block. … I saw a guy in a suit and tie directing traffic and saw guys hugging and saw people just trying to help each other, and that’s what struck me.”

    Rivers talked about how his team will not be returning to Boston before the team’s first playoff game on Saturday in New York.

    “The playoffs start on Saturday, so just the travel would have been hard and we made that decision,” Rivers said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. It’s an extended road trip, basically. But guys, they call home, they check on people they know, so that will be part of it. One of the things that I’ve never let go [of] and I understand more than anything is that athletes have a human life. A lot of times a guy will have a bad game and fans or the media will just want to say he didn’t play well, but you may know why for real. Maybe he had a personal issue at home that affected him, and this may affect us, but I’m hoping this affects us in a positive way.”

    The Celtics finished 41-40 and with the seventh seed and will play Game 1 of their series vs. the second-seeded Knicks on Saturday afternoon. Games 1 and 2 will be at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics have had success in the postseason vs. the Knicks, but Rivers said he doesn’t expect past series to affect this year’s games.

    “I hope [past history will help], but I don’t think it will,” Rivers said. “It would be nice if it helped but none of those guys or at least very few of those guys are part of that history. In a lot of ways it’s a brand new team we’re playing and they’re really good. They didn’t win our division and win the amount of games that they won by fluke. They’re a good basketball team.”

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