|Jordan Crawford’s strange choice of socks||04.30.13 at 11:57 am ET|
WALTHAM — While his teammates waxed poetically about the focus necessary to win Wednesday’s do-or-die Game 5 against the Knicks in New York, these are the socks Celtics guard Jordan Crawford chose to wear to practice on Tuesday. They have marijuana leaves on them. Nothing says playoff intensity like weed socks.
|Irish Coffee: When did the Celtics become the Knicks?||04.24.13 at 2:22 pm ET|
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.
|Jordan Crawford: ‘I was trying to make sure I made my first shot’||04.22.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
NEW YORK — On the same day he received a first-place vote for the NBA “Sixth Man” award (awarded to New York’s J.R. Smith), Jordan Crawford was insistent on one thing Monday, he wanted his first shot in a playoff game to go in.
“I was trying to make sure I made my first shot,” Crawford repeated several times when asked why, for the first time in his career, he didn’t even attempt a shot when playing at least 10 minutes in a game. That’s exactly what happened during Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the Knicks.
The irony was not lost on coach Doc Rivers, who put Crawford in for his explosive scoring ability. Rivers actually wants to play Crawford more in Game 2 and that means Crawford needs to get over his pursuit for perfection and worry about putting up big numbers for a bench that didn’t register a single field goal in Game 1 and was outscored, 33-4.
“I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half,” Rivers said. “It’s funny, he didn’t score, but he created baskets. He created that [Jeff Green] three at the end of the [first quarter] because he has the ability to do that. 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.”
Crawford was acquired from the Wizards at the NBA trade deadline in February, with the hope that he could provide some instant offense to a team that had just lost Rajon Rondo and was watching as Jason Terry went through a prolonged slump.
“Play my game, the game I continue to play that got me here that Doc Rivers wants me to play,” Crawford said. “So I’m just trying to help them win any way…Just be precise, don’t second guess nothing, be precise. Whatever you think to do, do it quick. If you make a mistake, do it hard.”
As for his other big first – an NBA playoff game – Crawford said he didn’t feel overwhelmed or overmatched.
“I really wanted to see if it was any different, if the intensity picked up or anything. But it’s pretty much the same, games just matter more,” he said.
Rivers made a point of saying how much he appreciated Crawford’s self control in his NBA playoff debut.
“I thought he was good. He stayed in his lane, let’s put it that way,” Rivers said. “He didn’t go outside of it. And usually guys in their first game, young guys do one or the other. They don’t do anything, and I thought he did far better than that. Or they try to do too much. I thought he was pretty much under control, emotionally.”
Maybe, as it turned out, too much.
|J.R. Smith wins NBA ‘Sixth Man’ award, Jordan Crawford gets a first-place vote, finishes seventh||at 2:31 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Celtics got an up-close and personal look at just how dangerous J.R. Smith can be off the New York bench on March 26.
He scored 32 points and powered the Knicks to a 100-85 win, a victory that was part of New York’s 13-game winning streak at the end of the season that propelled them toward the Atlantic Division title.
On Monday, Smith was honored as the 2012-13 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award as the league’s best player in a reserve role. Smith, who came off the bench in all 80 games in which he appeared, led all reserves in scoring, averaging 18.1 points. Additionally, Smith added 5.3 rebounds per game, 2.7 assits and 1.3 steals in 33.5 minutes per game to a Knicks squad that went 54-28 and earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Smith received 484 of a possible 1,084 points, including 72 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers finished second with 352 points (31 first-place votes). Jarrett Jack of the Golden State Warriors finished third with 170 points (14 first-place votes).
Boston’s Jordan Crawford received a first-place vote and finished seventh.
In order to be eligible for this award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
Smith, who led reserves in 30-point (seven) and 20-point games (29), became the first player with four 30-point games off bench in same month (March) since Ricky Pierce had four in November of 1990. He earned Player of the Week honors for games played March 25-31, leading the Knicks to a 4-0 record with averages of 29.8 points (second in the league), 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals. In Smith’s 80 games, the Knicks enjoyed a +5.3 score differential with him on the court compared with +1.9 when he was on the bench. Read the rest of this entry »
|Monday notes: Doc Rivers says Brandon Bass played ‘the perfect game’ while the bench, not so much||at 2:17 pm ET|
NEW YORK — So what did the Celtics film session reveal on Sunday?
“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 »
|Irish Coffee: Jordan Crawford’s Celtics career in 4 minutes||04.12.13 at 12:41 pm ET|
This video pretty much sums up Jordan Crawford‘s 24-game Celtics tenure. He’s been hit or miss. Mostly miss.
Crawford’s 39.3 field goal percentage and 29.0 3-point percentage reflect his career averages (39.9 FG%, 29.8 3P%), so the questions that followed him from Washington remain: Can Doc Rivers trust the 24-year-old shooting guard? Or has the Celtics coach’s decision to insert Jeff Green alongside Avery Bradley in the starting backcourt leave Crawford out of a guard rotation that also features Jason Terry and a struggling Courtney Lee?
The C’s haven’t won a single game when Crawford attempts more than 10 shots, and he’s taken double-digit shots in six of their last seven losses. They’re 12-6 when Crawford fires fewer than 10 shots. Likewise, the Celtics are 8-4 when Crawford plays fewer than 20 minutes and 4-8 when he plays more than 20. Maybe that’s why Rivers hasn’t trusted him with more than eight clutch minutes (within five with five minutes to go) since Feb. 22.
The good news? Crawford’s best production for the Celtics has come in the fourth quarter, when he’s shooting 47.2 percent from the field (34-72 FG), 40.0 percent from 3-point range (10-25 3P) and 88.0 percent from the free-throw line (22-25 FT). Then again, he’s committed 22 turnovers against 19 assists in the final 12 minutes of games — by far his most careless quarter (he owns a respectable 2.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ration in quarters 1-3).
Meanwhile, he ranks 244th among defenders since coming to Boston, according to Synergy Sports. Add it all up, and it’s hard to argue Crawford deserves any more than emergency minutes in the playoffs.
|Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Knicks||03.26.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
J.R. Smith scored 32 points off the bench and Carmelo Anthony added 29 as the Knicks overpowered the undermanned Celtics, 100-85, Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who committed 20 turnovers, lost their fifth straight game and fell to 36-34 and dropped 7.5 games behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic Division. With just 12 games left, it’s almost certain that Boston’s five-year run atop the division will end this season.
Smith outscored Boston’s bench, 32-17, and helped New York to its fifth straight win, improving the Knicks to 43-26 on the season.
The Knicks, meanwhile, relied on a heavy dose of Anthony to keep up with Boston. Anthony had 11 points in the opening quarter and the Knicks scored the final five points of the period to take a 28-24 lead after 12 minutes.
With the game tied, 35-35, the Knicks used a 14-0 run to gain control of the game. Smith went wild in the second quarter, going 5-of-11 from the field and scoring 11 of his 21 first-half points as the Knicks assumed a 58-44 halftime lead.
The Celtics opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt, thanks to threes from Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green, and closed to within eight, 60-52. Green led the Celtics with 19 points while Paul Pierce added 16 before being pulled with six minutes left.
The Celtics couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the quarter and the Knicks used 9-0 run to expand their lead to 78-62 and re-gain control.
The Celtics appeared to have some momentum heading into the fourth quarter when Jason Terry drilled a three with 6.1 seconds remaining but Smith drilled a three over Avery Bradley at the buzzer to give the Knicks an 84-69 lead heading into the final period.
The Knicks built their lead up to 17, at 91-74, with just under eight minutes left in the game. The Celtics never threatened after that.
The injury-riddled Celtics have no time to rest as they hit the road to play in Cleveland Wednesday night. Doc Rivers said before the game that Courtney Lee is doubtful for that game, leaving the Celtics short-handed again. Boston returns home Friday night to take on the Hawks at TD Garden, as the Celtics play five games in seven days.
For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.