|Fast Break: Knicks blowout leaves Celtics staggering||04.26.13 at 10:39 pm ET|
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.
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Friday’s Game 3 in Boston ‘will be emotional for the players’||04.25.13 at 9:41 am ET|
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  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.”
|Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘can’t win without Rajon Rondo’||04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics, who are in a 2-0 hole against the Knicks in their Eastern Conference playoff series following Tuesday night’s 87-71 loss at Madison Square Garden.
“They can’t win without Rajon Rondo. It kind of just boils down to that,” Mannix said. “It was such a gutty first half, how they played. They defended, they made shots, Jason Terry was big for them. But the second half, when the Knicks came out with a modicum of defensive intensity, they could do nothing, because they don’t have anyone on the floor that knows how to manufacture shots. [Paul] Pierce did the best he could, but it was pretty clear to me that the Knicks were loading up on him and really putting a focus on keeping him under control in the second half, contesting more shots in the second half. And without Rondo, they got nothing in the paint. Everything was a contested jump shot off one or two passes.
“In a lot of ways, it’s kind of depressing to watch. Because the Knicks, they’re not a good defensive team. They were good for like five games in the month of November. Then all of a sudden they reverted back to Carmelo Anthony ball, circa 2008, and decided to outscore people. But the Knicks, when they put any kind of pressure on the Celtics last night, they just didn’t have anything in terms of playmaking that could respond.”
The Celtics were able to play well for stretches after Rondo’s season-ending ACL injury in the regular season, but Mannix noted that the style and intensity in the playoffs are a different matter.
Said Mannix: “We’ve seen first-hand the last two years what Rondo has done for this team in the playoffs — he’s been the best player on the floor every single year. … He just creates shots, and he wreaks havoc in the paint. You simply can’t replace that.”
Jeff Green‘s inconsistency continues to be an issue. After recording 26 points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, Green had 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting with one rebound in almost 35 minutes Tuesday.
“I don’t know what it is, other than the fact that it’s just kind of who Jeff Green is at this point,” Mannix said. “He has been a workhorse for him in the second half of the season, and so many nights you can see just that talent. But I can tell you this: The inconsistency was maddening to Oklahoma City back in the day. They wanted to keep Jeff Green, they offered him a good contract extension. But they weren’t willing to go as high as Jeff Green wanted them to go because of that inconsistency. It was a big part of it. They didn’t know if he was going to be that guy every single night. At his best, he’s one of the most versatile forwards in the NBA, he can do a lot at either forward spot from the perimeter and on the inside. But some nights, as you mentioned, he does disappear. That’s one of the most frustrating things about Green, and that’s something I think that until he resolves, it’s always going to hold him back.”
|Tuesday shootaround: Jeff Green says C’s ‘can still play good without force-feeding’ Kevin Garnett||04.23.13 at 11:45 am ET|
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.”
|Jeff Green: ‘We just got tired, I guess’||04.20.13 at 8:29 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The numbers were so obviously bad no one could avoid them afterward.
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.”
|Turnover tale: Celtics drop Game 1 to Knicks||at 5:32 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony was just too much.
Anthony scored a game-high 36 points while J.R. Smith added 15 as the Knicks beat the Celtics, 85-78, Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.
Jeff Green started out hot but scored just six points in the second half and finished with 26 while Paul Pierce added 20 for the Celtics, who committed 21 turnovers in falling down 1-0 in the series.
The Celtics scored just 25 points in the second half, including just eight in the fourth quarter. They had three more turnovers (10) in the second half than field goals (7).
After the Celtics scored the first four points of the game, the Knicks went on a 12-2 run as Anthony started off on fire. He hit a pair of threes and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, scoring 10 points in the opening four minutes of the game. But the Celtics responded and quieted the crowd for the rest of the quarter, taking a 29-26 lead after one as Green drilled a three at the buzzer.
The Celtics turned up the defensive pressure on Anthony and the Knicks in the second quarter as Anthony missed nine of his next 11 shots from the floor. Coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, took Green off Anthony defensively, allowing him to get into an offensive rhythm. The result was immediately felt. He scored 12 of his 20 first-half points in the second quarter as the Celtics took a 53-49 halftime lead. Green was on fire in the first half, going 7-of-10 from the field. Avery Bradley (11) and Paul Pierce (10, six assists) were the only other in double figures in the first 24 minutes.
The Knicks scored the first five points of the third quarter to regain the lead but the Celtics used an 11-1 run late in the third quarter to built their biggest lead, 70-63, capped off when Pierce hit a long pull-up three.
Kevin Garnett’s turnaround over Kenyon Martin with just over eight minutes left tied the game, 72-72. Anthony responded on the next possession to give the Knicks the lead again.
Anthony hit a jumper over Green to put the Knicks up four, 76-72, before Pierce responded with a tough jumper with 6:03 left. But then, in a pivotal moment of the game, J.R. Smith drove to the basket and converted a layup with 5:44 left and drew the fifth foul on Kevin Garnett.
Pierce hit a jumper with 4:34 to close Boston within three, 79-76. But on consecutive possessions the Knicks missed open looks at threes and the Celtics were unable to execute offensively. Anthony’s layup with 2:31 left put New York up, 81-76.
Smith had a key steal of an Bradley pass to Pierce with just under four minutes left but Raymond Felton missed a wide-open three. Pierce missed a three that would have tied the game with just over three minutes left. Anthony hit a long two-point jumper over Green with 1:21 left to give the Knicks an 83-76 lead.
Game 2 is Tuesday night back at Madison Square Garden at 8 p.m. before the series shifts back to Boston next Friday. For complete coverage from Madison Square Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: ‘You’re angry when you think about it because you love your city’||04.16.13 at 12:08 pm ET|
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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