|Turnover tale: Celtics drop Game 1 to Knicks||04.20.13 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.
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.
“Kevin is great,” Rivers reassured everyone when asked about the physical well being of his 36-year-old big man. “No limitations. Kevin is fine.”
What the playoffs also mean is the no more five-minute in-out rotations for Garnett and no more worries about playing him 25-30 minutes a game.
“That’s nice,” Rivers said of the change. “The five-minute rotation thing with Kevin, you do it because you have to get through the season but it’s horrendous. Teams were game-planning against it. It got to a silly point at times. Kevin would come out and teams would bring in their big back in and we knew we couldn’t bring him back in. That’s gone now. It’s basketball. We still want to limit his minutes, 40 [laughs] or 35 but not this set rotation of minutes for him. And that makes it so much more difficult to game plan against our second unit.
“Rotations are easy when you can play the better player more minutes. That’s not hard. It’s when everybody is even and you’re trying to figure out who to play. I’ll have no problem playing Kevin more minutes. I think that’s easy. And honestly, I’ll have no problem playing someone else less if Kevin can play more so that’s not a problem at all.”
What remains to be seen is how the bench adjusts over the course of a seven-game series. Jordan Crawford and Jason Terry were the first of the bench Saturday and then Courtney Lee was on the floor as the second quarter began, playing with Terry and Crawford, as Rivers went with a very small lineup.
“I don’t know, honestly,” Rivers said when asked what he’s expecting from his role players in crunch time. “We clearly want to shorten our bench but I think in this case, because we have so many guys who are almost equal, it’s going be short but it’s going to be different guys [coming off bench in rotation].
“You just prepare them in what you have to do as a team. They’re going to hear advice from the rest of the guys, Kevin, Paul, JET and at the end of the day, they probably throw most of it out and you go out and play in the game. After Game 1, I’m sure some of the guys are going to find something out and as a coach, I’m just hoping what they find out is really good. But even if they find out something really bad, you hope they can learn from it and move on from it. I try not to overdo it. There’s guys who I don’t know how they’ll be in this atmosphere and I’ll find that out, too.”
Is there a concern some might be overwhelmed?
“You can never sense that,” Rivers said. “You have to wait until the game is played. Guys have horrendous week of practice and you’re on them all week to learn sets and then they get into games and all of sudden it clicks and I’ve seen just the exact opposite. You just don’t know.”
|Doc Rivers: ‘Emotionally, it could go either way’||at 2:47 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Doc Rivers admitted before Game 1 Saturday that his team didn’t have the best of practices on Friday at Columbia University, on the eve of the team’s first postseason game this year.
He also was very understanding of the players wanting to follow the events going on 200 miles away in Boston.
“[Friday] was a strange day,” Rivers said. “You’re going to practice and you hear guys on the phone and literally everyone is calling home, yelling or you could hear them saying, ‘Stay in the house!’ And we’re going to practice and I even told our staff, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes in practice today. There’s no way their focus is where it should be. And you felt that going into practice. And, honestly, we were right, practice played out that way.
“So I don’t know. Thank gosh it’s over, in that regards. It was good to see everybody in the city happy, hugging and rejoicing. And I’m sure our players had a chance to exhale, because their families are still back there. [Rajon Rondo] was supposed to join us yesterday, and he couldn’t even get out. He was locked in and had to stay in himself. What does that do for us today, I have no idea? I think, emotionally, it could go either way.”
Rivers and his staff are ready to handle the situation, good or bad, during the course of the game.
“Hopefully we can figure out a way, if it’s not going the right way, to gather them right and get it back,” Rivers said. “Thank gosh it’s a four-quarter game because I’m always worried about any team, even if it wasn’t for this, being too emotionally high at the beginning of a game. Because you still have to finish the game. We’ll see.”
Speaking of Rondo, after being locked down on Friday, the injured point guard made his way down to the Big Apple on Saturday and is with the team for the start of the playoffs. Rivers definitely likes him around the team.
“I want him around,” Rivers said. “He’s a good mind. He’s a great, great mind. And he knows the game. He’s a smart kid. People have no idea his IQ, they really don’t. It’s funny right now, even after our shootaround, he’s into it.”
With Pablo Prigioni [sprained ankle] is out for the Knicks, Chris Copeland moves into the staring lineup. The Knicks will go with a starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert, to go along with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
|Knicks vs. Celtics: NBA playoffs 1st round schedule||04.18.13 at 10:07 am ET|
The NBA released the full schedule for the first-round playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks.
Game 1: Celtics at Knicks on Saturday (3 p.m., ABC)
Game 2: Celtics at Knicks on Tuesday (8 p.m., TNT)
Game 3: Knicks at Celtics on April 26 (8 p.m., ESPN)
Game 4: Knicks at Celtics on April 28 (1 p.m., ABC)
Game 5: Celtics at Knicks on May 1 (TBD, if necessary)
Game 6: Knicks at Celtics on May 3 (TBD, if necessary)
Game 7: Celtics at Knicks on May 5 (TBD, if necessary)
|Doc Rivers: ‘Obviously, we want to play Miami’ just not early in playoffs||04.11.13 at 12:15 am ET|
Five days earlier, after a loss to the Cavaliers at TD Garden, Doc Rivers said, “Of course we would… I’m not that dumb” when asked if the Celtics would like to avoid the defending champs who have raced through the NBA this season, on the way to the league’s best mark.
But after Wednesday’s loss to the Nets, he made a clarifying statement when informed that Milwaukee lost, reducing Boston’s magic number to 1 for clinching seventh-seed and not finishing eighth, which would result in a first-round meeting with Miami.
‘That’s good,” Rivers said. “Obviously, we want to play Miami. We do. We just would not like to play them early. I mean, we would love to avoid Miami in the first round and then play them; that would mean we’re doing very well. So, we clearly want to play Miami. We just want to delay it a little bit if we can.’
Now that it appears all but certain the Celtics (40-38) will finish in seventh place in the Eastern conference, they will likely draw the Knicks in the first round. The Celtics playoff spot was all but locked in at seventh Wednesday night when they lost to the Brooklyn Nets at home but the Milwaukee Bucks (37-41) also lost on the road in Orlando. The Bucks and Celtics each have four games remaining.
Atlanta (44-36) moved two games ahead of Boston in the loss column for sixth place with a win in Philadelphia.
|Net loss: Up and down Celtics left in the dust in loss to Nets||04.10.13 at 10:35 pm ET|
Deron Williams scored 29 points Brook Lopez added 21 as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Celtics, 101-93, Wednesday night at TD Garden. Paul Pierce had 23 to lead the Celtics, who fell to 40-38 on the season. In his second game back from an inflamed left ankle, Kevin Garnett rebounded from a 1-for-6 first half to finish with 11 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes.
With the loss, the Celtics appear locked in for the seventh-seed and a first-round match up with the Knicks as the sixth-seed Hawks beat the Sixers in Philadelphia to move two games ahead of the Celtics in the loss column. With the Bucks’ loss in Orlando, Boston is still three games up in the loss column on eighth place Milwaukee. The Celtics and Bucks each have four games left.
The Nets improved to 46-32 and are all but locked in at the No. 4 seed heading into the playoffs.
In a game the Celtics showed little defensive intensity, the first quarter started out with great promise. The Celtics shot out to a 17-9 lead, highlighted by a dunk from Brandon Bass over Brook Lopez with six minutes left in the opening quarter. Brandon Bass led the Celtics with eight points in the first quarter but the Nets outscored the Celtics, 13-4, in the last six minutes of the quarter to take a 22-21 lead after 12 minutes. Boston finished the first quarter shooting just 9-of-23 from the field.
Boston’s defense in the second quarter was leaky, as the Nets made two-thirds of their shots from the floor, finishing the period 12-of-18. Williams had 11 of his 27 points in the quarter as the Nets took command of the game with a 53-43 halftime lead.
Another telling sign of how the Celtics were dominated on the inside was the lack of free throws. With Boston’s offensive generated almost exclusively from the perimeter, the Celtics didn’t get to the free throw line until 8:22 left in the third quarter, when Pierce hit a free throw to complete a 3-point play.
There were signs of life in the third quarter as Jeff Green drilled a three with 4:29 left to cut Brooklyn’s lead to 11, 68-57. Then, Shav Randolph drew a charge on Brook Lopez. After two Pierce free throws cut the lead under 10, Lopez hit a five-foot bank shot to stem the Boston tide. Read the rest of this entry »
|Why the buddy system is ‘huge’ for Doc Rivers||at 12:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers isn’t just one of the most personable coaches among fans and media, he’s one of the most likable among his fellow NBA head coaches.
And that – as it turns out – has its rewards.
As the playoffs near, Rivers has been tapping into that network of coaches for some inside intel. But Rivers isn’t looking for advance scouting tips on his opponents; he’s looking for what other coaches see in the Celtics.
“That won’t last,” Rivers predicted. “I think teams will go back and forth on it. And they did even in the game the other night [vs. Washington]. They started out small, went big and then went back to small. I think teams are trying to figure out which way they would guard them.”
Why is that? All Rivers had to do was ask longtime friend and former Atlanta teammate Randy Wittman, now the coach of the Wizards.
“It’s nice when you play, honestly, a team that’s not in the playoffs and talk to the coach after the game. I asked what their reasoning [is] for choosing one or the other. It’s been interesting the comments I’ve gotten back.”
What kind of information?
“Good information,” Rivers smiled. “They’ve always helped, and they’re open for the most part,” Rivers said of his postgame chats with the coaches. “They’re not going to tell you their secrets but they’re going to tell you some of their thoughts so they’re helpful.”
It’s not just Wittman, either. On the current four-game homestand that ends against Brooklyn, the Celtics have played Detroit [Lawrence Frank], Cleveland [Byron Scott] and Washington [Wittman]. All three teams will be home in two weeks when the playoffs begin. And all three have head coaches with direct ties to Rivers.
“That’s huge because otherwise, I wouldn’t ask, to be honest,” Rivers said. “So, if you have a relationship with a coach, it helps. And there’s also a lot of coaches not coaching right now that you talk to a lot. You even ask them, ‘Who would you guard or how would you attack?’ It’s good getting somebody outside of us because they see us entirely different than we see ourselves.”
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