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Fast Break: Pacers hand Celtics sixth straight loss 11.22.13 at 9:43 pm ET
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The Celtics led the Eastern Conference’s best team by eight at the break, but a dreadful second half left the Celtics looking at a sixth straight loss and their 10th overall — this time 97-82 at the hand of the Pacers.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens grew up idolizing Reggie Miller and lamented the fact that Indiana has its best team of his lifetime before facing his former favorite team for the first time. And the Pacers lived up to that billing, holding the C’s to 12-of-30 shooting and forcing 16 Celtics turnovers in the second half.

Jordan Crawford led the C’s with 24 points. Jeff Green added 20 and Jared Sullinger 13.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Twisted: Kelly Olynyk got tied up with Indiana’s Luis Scola under the Pacers’ basket in the second quarter and immediately headed to the locker room with Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte and team Dr. Brian McKeon. The Celtics announced he would not return due to a right ankle sprain, calling the injury, “nothing serious.”

Give it way now: After staking themselves to a 25-22 lead and committing just two turnovers in the opening quarter, the Celtics committed four turnovers in their first eight possessions of the second quarter, allowing the Pacers to briefly regain the lead. Things only got worse in the third, when the C’s had more turnovers (11) than points (8) and the Pacers turned an eight-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

Thin line: The Celtics entered Friday’s game with 76 fewer free throw attempts than their opponents. Tommy no likey. And they attempted just one free throw in the first 30 minutes against the Pacers — on a defensive three-second call. Tommy really no likey. Of course, the lack of a point guard capable of penetrating doesn’t help.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

So much Steez: Crawford fittingly capped a ridiculous first half by banking a 30-footer to beat the buzzer and hand the Celtics a 50-42 halftime lead. He also drained a shot clock-busting triple as part of an 8-for-8, 19-point effort in the opening 24 minutes. He added three assists in that span and was not credited with a turnover.

Defending their life: Without a defense that forced 16 turnovers, this loss could have been even worse. Led by Green (yes, that guy) and Sullinger, the C’s D respectively kept Pacers stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert in check for most of the night (until George dropped 14 fourth-quarter points). They just had no answer for Indiana’s depth, as Lance Stephenson recorded the first triple-double of his career while Scola and David West added 17 apiece. West has to be smiling now about choosing the Pacers over the Celtics in 2011.

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Doc Rivers: ‘You’re angry when you think about it because you love your city’ 04.16.13 at 12:08 pm ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

WALTHAM — Instead of playing a game Tuesday night, the Celtics held practice and reacted to Monday’s Boston Marathon tragedy.

Among those most affected was Jeff Green. The Celtics player, like his coach, live in Boston and very close to the epicenter of Monday’s two explosions on Boylston Street near the finish line.

Green said before Tuesday’s practice that he understood completely the NBA’s decision to cancel Tuesday’s home game against the Pacers at the Garden.

“Everybody has got to be safe,” Green said. “I think it was right to cancel the game out of respect for the families affected.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers also lives in the Back Bay. He was headed into Boston after Monday’s practice in Waltham to watch the Marathon. He said

“I always go down after practice and watch [the Boston Marathon]. I was on my way,” Rivers said. “I had gotten out of the [Prudential] tunnel when the bomb exploded.

“I thought the spirit of Boston was incredible last night. If you’re part of the city, this country, it’s going to be on your mind. This city has an amazing amount spirit. You’re angry, too, when you think about it because you love your city. That bothers you.”

The game against the Pacers was canceled and will not be rescheduled. The Celtics will finish their 81-game schedule on Wednesday night in Toronto and then open the first round of the playoffs this weekend in New York’s Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.

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NBA cancels Celtics-Pacers Tuesday night at the Garden, will not be re-scheduled 04.15.13 at 8:46 pm ET
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The Celtics are the latest Boston team to announce they are canceling an event due to the Boston Marathon tragedy Monday afternoon.

The NBA issued the following release Monday night:

The National Basketball Association game scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 between the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics at TD Garden has been canceled. The game will not be rescheduled.

The NBA expresses its sympathy to all those affected by the tragedy in Boston earlier today.

This means that the Celtics will play an 81-game schedule and their season will conclude Wednesday night in Toronto against the Raptors before they open the playoffs this weekend in New York at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.

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Doc Rivers: ‘Of course’ Celtics want to avoid Heat in playoffs.. ‘I’m not that dumb’ 04.06.13 at 1:39 am ET
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Not that there was much of a doubt to begin with but Doc Rivers made it very clear after Friday’s 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers (which snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak) that he wants no part of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Thanks to the Bucks loss in New York to the Knicks Friday night, the Celtics (39-37) are two games up in the loss column on Milwaukee for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with just six games left.

Does he pay attention to the standings?

“I do but I don’t,” Rivers said in his best hedging language. “I really don’t. I know we’re in the seventh spot. I know we want to stay out of the eighth spot.

So, Rivers is actually admitting he wants avoid the Heat?

“Of course we would,” Rivers admitted when asked that very question. “But if we play them, we’ll be ready. But of course we would. Listen, I’m not that dumb. I’m not the brightest guy but come on. Really, you would love to avoid anyone [like Miami]. Listen, no matter who we play, we’re going to play a tough team. It’s going to be New York, Indiana or Miami. There’s no cakewalk for us. It’s going to be hard.”

To Rivers point, the Celtics are 1-3 this year against New York, 1-2 against Miami and 2-0 against Indiana. The Celtics play the Heat next weekend in Miami and the Pacers at the Garden on April 16.

Rivers was asked if he’s going out of his way to avoid playing his stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get them as physically ready for the playoffs as possible. But Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte took that decision out of his hands just before Friday’s game.

“No, I wanted Paul to play [against Cleveland] but he couldn’t, honestly,” Rivers said. “I would’ve played him if he could have. But right [before game] when Eddie said Paul’s [ankle] was swollen, that was an easy decision.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted after Friday night’s 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden that he is watching the standings and wants to avoid finishing eighth in the Eastern conference and a first round match up with the defending world champion Miami Heat. Rivers however stressed that whoever the Celtics face if it’s the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, it will be a tough matchup.

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The true brilliance of Doc Rivers: ‘It’s great when you win on execution’ 03.06.13 at 11:09 pm ET
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The Celtics are coming together as a true team under Doc Rivers. (AP)

The Celtics are coming together as a true team under Doc Rivers. (AP)

Everyone is going to point to the back-pick play drawn up by Doc Rivers, with a huge assist to offensive coach Armond Hill, as the latest example of what makes Rivers one of the truly best coaches in the NBA.

And they should.

But his real brilliance comes in how he’s prepared Jeff Green for the game-winning moment all season. Kevin Garnett fired a bullet pass to Green under the basket after Paul Pierce set Green free on a perfect back-pick. Green makes the adjustment under the basket, puts the game-winner off glass for an 83-81 road win over the second-seeded Pacers.

“It was executed great,” Rivers said. “We got it down to the last second. Either Kevin was going to try and hit Jeff or [hit Paul Pierce]. The whole play was [made] by Paul Pierce’s back pick. He was terrific. He set a nice back pick. They [Pacers] got a little mixed and then Jeff had to make a tough shot. They doubled Kevin so the pass was a little bit off-mark and Jeff had to adjust but it’s great when you win on execution.

“I told our players I had drawn up another play. Armond Hill walked over, and he rarely does it, and he says, ‘Listen, the play you drew up in the first half worked so let’s run it again.’ So I switched to the play that he wanted me to run and it was great. It worked out perfect.”

Funny thing, earlier in the season, Rivers probably would’ve gone with his first instincts for a pick-and-roll but decided to go with Hill’s recommendation.

“It was going to be a pick-and-roll, actually a pick-and-roll with Jeff and Kevin because we like that combination because Jeff is at the ‘4’ with his speed can always get a shot off,” Rivers said.

Green has been brought along at a pace all season that varied between breakneck and breakdown. Rivers struggled all season to find that comfort range for Green to excel so that he could put Green in the position he was Wednesday night on the road – a tired team that needed young legs to make up a 14-point deficit in the second half against a red-hot, No. 2 seed in the East.

Thursday night was not one of Green’s best games but it was one of his best moments. Eleven points in 34 minutes. He was just 5-of-14 from the field. Still, Rivers and Hill believed in Green enough to draw up the game-winning play to go to him. It was why Pierce was grinning ear-to-ear coming out of the timeout. Read the rest of this entry »

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Perfectly played: C’s steal a huge road win over Pacers at 9:27 pm ET
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Jeff Green was the hero with 0.5 seconds left in the game, scoring the winning basket. (AP)

Jeff Green was the hero with 0.5 seconds left in the game, scoring the winning basket. (AP)

Jeff Green scored on a reverse lay-up on a bullet pass from Kevin Garnett with 0.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift the Celtics to an unlikely 83-81 road win over the Pacers, Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The brilliant play was drawn up by head coach Doc Rivers and executed by a team that appears to be hitting its stride.

Rivers called for Green to get free on the baseline on a back-pick set by Pierce, with Garnett at the top of the key. That’s exactly how the play unfolded as Green got free underneath, caught the ball under the basket and turned his body just in time to hit the layup off the glass.

Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley finished with 13 points apiece for the Celtics, who won their fourth straight and improved to a season-best six games over .500 at 33-27. They also improved to 12-4 without Rajon Rondo.

With the Celtics playing their second road game in 24 hours, the Pacers were predictably the stronger team out of the blocks, shooting out to a 27-19 lead after one.

The Celtics got a layup from Pierce right before the halftime buzzer as Boston cut Indiana’s lead to seven, 49-42, at the break.

Garnett made history with a defensive rebound in the first minute of the third quarter. It was his sixth of the game and No. 13,370 of his career, passing Wes Unseld for 10th all time in NBA history.

The Pacers went to their inside game to build the lead to 14, 63-49, midway through the third but the Celtics finished the quarter on a 9-5 run to close to within 10, 68-58, heading into the fourth.

The Celtics pulled to within one, 73-72, on a Jason Terry three with just over six minutes left, capping a 20-7 run. The Pacers then responded with the next eight points to build a nine-point lead.

As great as the play execution was for the Celtics, Boston was the beneficiary of some highly questionable play-calling on the part of the Pacers. Leading by 14 points and with Roy Hibbert taking it to the Celtics inside, Pacers fell in love with the three-point shot, finishing a miserable 6-of-27 from long range.

The Pacers had all five starters in double figures, led by Paul George with 16 points. David West had 11 points and 16 rebounds while Hibbert finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The Celtics are off Thursday before returning to action Friday at home against Atlanta at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Kevin Garnett: ‘This game was not some sort of foreplay’ 01.05.13 at 10:09 am ET
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Kevin Garnett has a way with words unlike any other Celtic. He knows what to say and when to say it, especially to his teammates.

That showed Friday night after the Celtics disposed of the Pacers, 94-75, at TD Garden, a game in which he was ejected for a shot to the face of Tyler Hansbrough with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“I was firm, I didn’t mean to get him in the face like that, I was actually trying to swipe the ball but it was a physical game and they called it the way it was, part of the game,” Garnett said of the “flagrant-2″ foul that earned him the rest of the night off.

Garnett and Doc Rivers have been pleading with the Celtics to stay true to the defensive principles that have been the cornerstone of the Celtics for the past five seasons. Friday night, Garnett had plenty of help on defense from Avery Bradley and Paul Pierce.

Was this type of ugly game, one that featured 107 missed shots, the kind of game that the Celtics need to play to get themselves out of the funk they’ve been in?

“This game was not some type of foreplay,” Garnett said. “I thought we came out firm and aggressive on both ends, but more importantly defensively. I thought we stayed sound for 48 minutes no matter who was in. Avery made a very very big impact on the game, I thought Paul’s defense was very energetic, and we followed those guys lead. You could tell from how we came into the locker room that we really needed this win.

“You know, since we’ve been in this funk, Doc’s been saying that through out this tough ordeal that we have to continue to play defense no matter what we’re doing. Offense cannot dictate defense. I feel like for the most part we did just that. Some nights you click, some nights you don’t, and tonight we just knew we needed to win to stop the bleeding and I feel like we went out and did it.”

The message to Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Jeff Green?

“There’s no perfect answer to this, there’s no perfect situations,” Garnett said. “Everyone has to accept their roles wholeheartedly and embrace it, and tonight I think we did. Being consistent with those roles is what we want to be, if we want to be anything of a good team, everyone is going to have to fill those roles. It was just a full team effort from a defensive standpoint.”

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