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Adrian Wojnarowski on D&C: ‘No easy path back’ to contention for Celtics 04.29.13 at 9:04 am ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski

Adrian Wojnarowski

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and the NBA playoffs.

The league’s two most successful franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, have become also-rans, and the future is not promising for either team.

“There’s no question there’s been a changing of the guard in the league,” Wojnarowski said. “You look at both teams, the Lakers and Boston, it’s going to be a while before either is in contention again. It’s hard to rebuild in this league, and it doesn’t happen quickly unless you draft LeBron [James] or Kevin Durant. It’s going to take a while, and I think both organizations have to face that reality, because we aren’t going to see these two in the finals again in the foreseeable future, that’s for sure.”

Wojnarowski said the the Celtics have a better front office than the Lakers and a more appealing coach in Doc Rivers, but the Lakers are more likely to return to prominence first because of the appeal of Los Angeles.

“If the Lakers have cap space, they’re always a team that’s going to attract the best player on the market,” Wojnarowski said. “I think Boston, as long as Doc is there and Doc is coaching, I think Boston is very attractive to players, more so to the elite players. But even then, Chris Paul didn’t want to come when they talked deals. It’s not LA.”

Wojnarowski said he thinks the Celtics will attempt to rebuild around Rajon Rondo, but they need some fortuitous moves to get out of the middle.

“That’s the worst place to be in the NBA — stuck in the middle,” Wojnarowski said. “You want to be really good or really bad. That’s the fear is you don’t want to get stuck in that middle place, because you can’t get out of it. You become Milwaukee, fighting for the eighth seed. You don’t want that.

“But I do think, though, the emergence of Jeff Green this year, you’ve seen that they can lean on him to do more and be a different kind of player. Listen, a year ago you didn’t know what his career was going to look like, with the heart ailment. And then this year you saw him become a much more explosive and reliable player. I think that’s a bonus for them. You look back at the Kendrick Perkins deal, and certainly it looks a lot better in hindsight than it did to people initially. But there’s no easy path back for them.”

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Fast Break: Jason Terry saves Celtics season 04.28.13 at 4:12 pm ET
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The Knicks erased a 20-point second-half deficit and took their first lead of the game with 78 seconds remaining on a Raymond Felton jumper. It took a 17-footer from Kevin Garnett and two Carmelo Anthony misses just to force overtime. But Jason Terry finally came up clutch, scoring the C’s final nine points for a 97-90 OT victory.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce played 50 minutes, totaling 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help avoid a sweep and force a Game 5 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Pierce, Garnett (13 points, 17 rebounds), Terry (18 points) and Jeff Green (26 points) combined for 86 of the C’s 97 points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Melo out: Without J.R. Smith to share the load, Carmelo Anthony (36 points) tried to put the Knicks on his back, but Brandon Bass had other ideas. Bass gave Anthony fits, even jawing with the MVP candidate, holding him to 10-of-35 shooting and forcing him into seven turnovers. The rest of the Knicks didn’t help, shooting 34 percent from the field, but it started with a valiant effort from Bass, who fouled out in the fourth quarter.

Closing out: While the Knicks looked to close out the series, the C’s just hoped to close out a quarter. And for once they did. In the second, they finished the final two minutes on a 12-3 run. Pierce, who looked cooked in Game 3, scored eight of his 17 first-half points in 72 seconds, and then assisted on Jason Terry’s 16-foot jumper that beat the clock. The result? A 54-35 advantage that helped punch their plane ticket back to New York.

Green with emotion: Green’s recipe for success is simple: attack, attack, attack. The guy who stands around the perimeter watching his teammates take jump shots isn’t so good. In the span of 44 seconds of the second quarter, Green stampeded his way to the basket for a running five-footer and got to the line twice more on drives to the hole. In other words, he attacked, attacked, attacked, and the result was 26 points and six boards.

WHAT WENT WRONG

First mistake: The Celtics shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter while holding the Knicks to 6-of-18 shooting and forcing six New York turnovers. And thanks to an off-balance Anthony and-1 to close out the first quarter, the C’s only led 22-17. That five-point lead should’ve been 15. Allowing the Knicks to stick around was a dangerous game, even if the Celtics ended up taking a 19-point lead into halftime.

Handle without care: Turnovers cost the Celtics Games 1 and 3. Their offense practically must execute to perfection to compete with New York’s potent attack, and coughing up opportunities before they even get off a shot compounds the problem. Yet, the Celtics committed 16 turnovers on Sunday. Dumb ones, too, like Avery Bradley throwing a pass to someone in the fourth row and Pierce’s failed feeding of Bass on a fast break.

Foul mood: Midway through the second quarter, Garnett picked up his third foul from an officiating crew that featured C’s coach Doc Rivers‘ nemesis Bill Kennedy. Minutes later, Green picked up his third, and Bass joined the club two seconds before halftime. Within five minutes of the third quarter, all three had four fouls. Of course, Anthony and Tyson Chandler had four before the fourth quarter, too. But with little faith in Chris Wilcox or Shavlik Randolph off the bench, Rivers pulled Garnett but left Green and Bass to defend the paint. Bass soon picked up his fifth, and the Knicks closed within three on an 11-1 run to end the third, setting up a nail-biting fourth quarter and overtime.

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OT save: Jason Terry leads the C’s to win and Game 5 at 4:05 pm ET
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Jeff Green (8) and the Celtics were all over Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks early. (AP)

Jeff Green (8) and the Celtics were all over Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks early. (AP)

The Celtics live to fight another day.

Jason Terry nailed a go-ahead three with 90 seconds left in overtime and scored Boston’s final seven points as the Celtics overcame blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and beat the Knicks, 97-90, in Game 4 Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. With the win, the Celtics stave off elimination and will play the Knicks in Game 5 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, trailing the series, 3-1.

In a season filled with a record 11 overtime games, Game 4 appropriately came down to an extra period.

Paul Pierce scored 29, Jeff Green added 26 and Kevin Garnett chipped in with 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Celtics, who blew a 20-point third quarter lead. Carmelo Anthony had 36 points while Raymond Felton added 27 for New York, which was playing without the suspended J.R. Smith.

For the third time in the series, the Celtics took a halftime lead but this time Celtics were overpowering in building their advantage. The Celtics shot 50 percent in the first quarter, as Pierce led the way with seven points and the Celtics led, 22-17 after one.

Pierce led the charge against the Knicks in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 17 first-half points. Led by a pair of Pierce threes late, Boston went on a 19-6 run to end the second quarter and grabbed a 54-35 halftime lead. The Knicks were extremely sloppy in the first half, committing 13 turnovers.

Green was also huge in the second quarter, scoring nine of his 15 first-half points and helping Boston outscore New York, 32-18. It took four games but the Celtics produced their best half of offensive basketball, making 20-of-39 shots (51.3 percent).

Fouls became a huge issue in the third quarter.

Garnett, Green all picked up their fourth fouls in the first four minutes. The Knicks were in the bonus with 7:12 left in the third quarter. Still, the Celtics managed a 20-point lead at 59-39. But the Knicks – led by Raymond Felton – finally got hot from 3-point range.

Carmelo Anthony’s jumper with 6:44 left in the third capped an 8-0 Knicks run and cut the lead to 12, 59-47. After a Green layup, the Knicks collected a loose ball rebound and Raymond Felton drilled a three, cutting Boston’s lead to 11, 61-50.

Anthony was called for his fourth foul moments later and the Celtics regained momentum, building the lead back to 14. But Felton hit his third three with three minutes left in the quarter to pare the lead down to 10, 65-55. Anthony came out of the game with 3:35 left in the third and the Knicks down, 14. Without their MVP, Felton and Iman Shumpert led the Knicks on a 14-3 surge to end the third quarter, including a three with 0.2 seconds left in quarter as Boston led by just three, 68-65, heading into the final quarter. Terry hit another jumper with 50.4 second left to re-establish the three-point lead, 93-90.

After a Garnett free throw on an illegal defense call, Anthony hit a layup to cut the Boston lead to two. Pierce answered with a deep three with 9:40 left to put Boston up, 72-67. An Iman Shumpert steal of Pierce and layup with 7:16 left tied the game, 74-74.
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Fast Break: Knicks blowout leaves Celtics staggering 04.26.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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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.

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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
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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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Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘can’t win without Rajon Rondo’ 04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET
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Paul Pierce and the Celtics are down 2-0 in their series against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. (AP)

Paul Pierce and the Celtics are down 2-0 in their series against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. (AP)

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.”

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Tuesday shootaround: Jeff Green says C’s ‘can still play good without force-feeding’ Kevin Garnett 04.23.13 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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