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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.”

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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 »

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Doc Rivers fined $25,000 for criticizing officials after Game 2 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.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: Friday’s Game 3 in Boston ‘will be emotional for the players’ at 9:41 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning, as the C’s prepare for Friday night’s Game 3 against the Knicks.

The Celtics lost the first two games of their playoff series in New York, both times struggling badly on offense after halftime (48 points combined in the two second halves).

“I would love to say it’s as simple as play harder, play better, but we have to do a lot of things,” Rivers said. “Both games were completely different except for the score, as far as our scoring. In the second game, the third quarter we gave up [32] points, which meant that we played taking the ball out of bounds, and their pressure affected us. Our defense, though it’s been good, is still tied to our offense. And I would say in the third quarter that was the big part of it.”

Jeff Green continues to shine in spurts, but he’s been unable to carry it through for an entire game. Rivers acknowledged Green’s inconsistency can be frustrating.

“At times. Because I know how good he can be — and I know how good he will be,” Rivers said. “He was fantastic in Game 1, if you just go by total numbers [26 points, 7 rebounds]. Obviously he’s not going to have the half he had in the first half, you’re not going to do that in two halves. That’s a 50-point game. I guess that’s possible, but that’s hard to do.

“In Game 2 our pace was bad. And if our pace affects any single guy, it’s Jeff Green. Without the pace that we wanted to play at, I thought we hurt him as much as Jeff. So, that’s on us. It really is. It’s on me, it’s on our group. Our guys understand the important of that. If you want him to be effective, we have to get him in the open court, otherwise they’re just loading up on him.”

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Irish Coffee: When did the Celtics become the Knicks? 04.24.13 at 2:22 pm ET
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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.

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Doc Rivers: ‘I thought the fouls on [Kevin Garnett] were horrendous and had a huge effect’ at 1:03 am ET
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NEW YORK — The Celtics wanted more out of Kevin Garnett and got it in Game 2, as he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

But in the mind of coach Doc Rivers, it could’ve been more – much more – if it weren’t for the officials. For the second straight game, Garnett got into foul trouble, with three fouls at halftime and five midway through the fourth quarter. When the Celtics needed him the most, Garnett couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm in the second half, and Rivers said the officiating early had an impact in the end.

“I thought the fouls on Kevin were horrendous, and had a huge effect on us,” Rivers said after the 87-71 loss in which Boston scored 23 points in the second half. “He never got his rhythm when you could see he was going to have a game. It hurt us.”

Garnett felt the frustration as well, but held back a bit, deflecting some of the criticism on himself.

“At times, it’s frustrating,” Garnett said. “But fouls are part of the game. Refs are calling things but it’s an aggressive time in postseason play. I just have to be consistent and position myself not to foul so much.”

The trio of David Jones, Rodney Mott and Derrick Stafford officiated the game, which ended with Garnett and Paul Pierce each with five fouls before they were taken out after the game was out of reach with four minutes left.

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Doc Rivers on his offense: ‘So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots’ at 12:39 am ET
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Doc Rivers had Paul Pierce back in the lineup Wednesday against Detroit. (AP)

Doc Rivers had no answers for another second-half freeze out. (AP)

NEW YORK — Celtics coach Doc Rivers took full responsibility for the historic futility of his offense has suffered through in dropping the first two games of their series at Madison Square Garden.

For the second straight game, the Celtics established a playoff franchise record for fewest points in a half when they scored just 23 in the second half of Tuesday’s 87-71 loss to the Knicks.

“We are who we are,” Rivers said when asked about the effect of not having Rajon Rondo available. “We can’t apologize for that. That is who we have been left with and I think it is good enough to win. So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots. We can play better and we have to play better.”

The Celtics led 48-42 at the half. But Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes early in the third quarter, part of a 29-6 New York run that put the Knicks in complete control. The Celtics were outscored 32-11 and converted just 4-of-17 shots from the floor in posting another abysmal third-quarter performance.

“They attacked us,” Rivers said. “We didn’t handle it very well. We have to be able to do better. I don’t know what we are doing wrong in the beginning of third quarters but we gave up those two back-to-back threes, which helped their confidence. It was a tale of two halves.”

Paul Pierce led the way with 18 points but came out with four minutes left as the Celtics conceded.

“He needs some help,” Rivers said. “I think Paul was playing pretty well. He started getting tired in the second half because he tried to do everything.”

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