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Doc Rivers puts Brandon Bass back in starting lineup for Jason Terry 04.28.13 at 12:29 pm ET
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Noting that he really likes his defense on Carmelo Anthony, Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced that he is re-inserting Brandon Bass into the starting lineup, as Jason Terry heads back to his more customary role off the bench.

Bass will join Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green in the starting lineup.

“I just like Brandon on Melo more,” Rivers said. “Like I said [Saturday], the smaller lineup, the numbers actually say it’€™s better, but I like our defense better the other way.”

The Celtics will face a Knicks team in Game 4 that will be without “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith, suspended for the game after throwing an elbow in the face of Terry with seven minutes left in Game 3. Smith, who was averaging 16.3 points in the first three games, was assessed a “Flagrant Foul 2” for the violation and was suspended by the NBA on Saturday.

What will be the biggest impact of the Knicks losing their second-leading scorer?

“Listen, he’€™s one of their other guys that can create shots and, especially in the playoffs, you need a guy,” Rivers said. “You think about what we’€™ve done good in this series, the Knicks are being held 13 points under their normal [scoring] average. And J.R. Smith has played well, because in the playoffs you take teams out of their stuff, and it comes down to guys creating shots for themselves and others. Well, Melo does that, [Raymond Felton] has done that, and J.R. Smith does that. Now they don’€™t have one of those guys.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to take the first step on the path to NBA history as no team has ever overcome an 0-3 hole in the postseason.

“Obviously when one team is in an elimination situation, and the other team is not, it’€™s mental really for both,” Rivers said. “I’€™m not going to concern myself with their mental, but with ours, it’€™s all mental, it always is.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry
NBA suspends J.R. Smith for Game 4 04.27.13 at 9:54 pm ET
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On the eve of what could be a series-clinching sweep in Game 4, Knicks guard J.R. Smith has been suspended by the NBA for one game without pay for throwing an elbow and striking the chin of Celtics‘€™ guard Jason Terry. Stu Jackson, Executive Vice President for Basketball Operations made the announcement.

The incident, for which Smith was assessed a Flagrant Foul Two and ejected, occurred with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter of New York’€™s 90-76 win over Boston last night, at the TD Garden.

Smith will serve his suspension when the Knicks face the Celtics at the TD Garden on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the Knicks needing just one more win to complete the series sweep.

Smith, who was honored before Game 2 on Tuesday as the NBA “Sixth Man of the Year”, has been New York’s second-leading scorer in the series (16.3) for the Knicks behind Carmelo Anthony.

Read More: Boston Celtics, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry, NBA
Thursday notes: Doc Rivers declares ‘he’s Paul Pierce, not Christopher Reeve’ 04.25.13 at 4:07 pm ET
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Paul Pierce is a lot of things to the Celtics. He’s the captain, the leader, the top scorer, the best passer and one of the best defenders. But he can’t be the end-all, be-all to the Celtics if they are to have any chance of coming back in the series against the Knicks.

That was the message from Doc Rivers before Thursday’s practice.

“We’re not going to put all that pressure on Paul,” Rivers said. “If we’re asking Paul to score, start the offense and pass the ball, we’re going to struggle scoring. One of our [coaches] even gave me a list of guys who should throw the post pass and it was two guys, and I laughed because one of them was the post guy. That [narrows] our choices a little bit. We can be more creative. I have to be [more creative] because that’s just asking Paul to do too much. We’re asking him to guard [Carmelo Anthony] at times, we’re asking him to bring the ball up the court at times, we’re asking him to be our post passer. He’s Paul Pierce, not Christopher Reeve.”

Another player under the microscope in this series so far is Avery Bradley.

Bradley was not on the floor with his teammates to start practice but after showing up late did participate, according to the team. He is expected to play Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden.

In two losses to the Knicks, Bradley is averaging 10.5 points and 3 assists over 34.5 minutes per game.

“It’€™s a hard role for Avery,” Rivers said. “We talk about [increased responsibilities for] Paul, but we’€™re asking Avery to pressure, pressure, pressure, and then try to do something that he’€™s not. Avery’€™s a good basketball player, but we never wanted him to be in the position of facilitating offense, seeing that guys aren’€™t set, and trying to get guys in the right spots, delivering the pass on target — a lot of that. We’€™re asking a lot, we understand that.”

The Celtics have made the wrong kind of history in two abysmal second half performances. Not only have they recorded back-to-back franchise lows for playoff points in a half (25 in Game 1, 23 in Game 2), they are the first team in the shot clock era to score 25 or fewer points in the second half in consecutive games (regular season or playoffs).

They have managed just 149 points, which is the second-fewest points they’ve scored over any two-game span in their postseason history (They scored 146 points in Games 6 and 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals vs. the Lakers).

“Well, we’€™ve come out flat twice [in the second half],” Rivers said. “I don’€™t know why that is. But they put a lot of pressure on us. Game 2. They scored a ton of points, 32 in the third quarter. We took the ball out and they pressured us. But we’re not organized offensively the way we should be, in my opinion. And that’€™s what we have to be. You’€™re going to have to play some halfcourt in the playoffs and we knew that going into the series, we just haven’€™t handled it very well.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Christopher Reeve, Doc Rivers, NBA playoffs
Avery Bradley not with Celtics to start practice, Kevin Garnett ‘confident’ for Game 3 at 12:48 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Starting guard Avery Bradley was not with the team at the start of practice as he arrived at the facility at 12:15, approximately 15 minutes after the start of practice. There was no immediate word from the team as for the reason.

The team confirmed that Bradley did participate later in practice.

Kevin Garnett was with the team to start practice at the Celtics training facility but Doc Rivers said he would not participate in the full practice as a precaution against his hip injury from Game 2. Garnett said he’€™s confident and ready and will play in Game 3 Friday night.

“We’re a confident group,” Garnett said when asked if he’s physically ready for Game 3, a phrase he repeated when asked specifically about his health.

“I didn’€™t ask [medical staff],” Rivers said. “That’€™s my rule, I try not to ask. Because they may give you the answer you don’€™t want to hear,” Rivers joked about Garnett’s status. “Right now, we’€™re planning on him practicing. I’€™m not going to let him go through the entire practice, even if he’€™s feeling good. I know a hip pointer, all you need is someone to bang into you or something. I don’€™t even know if it’€™s that, so we’€™re going to be careful.”

This is just the latest in a string of injuries for Garnett, who appeared to be tugging at his right hip in the second half of Tuesday’s Game 2 loss in New York. Garnett was sidelined for all but three of the team’s final 13 games, including eight straight due to left ankle inflammation. He’s also battled a left adductor strain that forced him to miss two games prior to that.

Rivers said he was initially concerned it was a stomach or oblique issue. Trainer Ed Lacerte assured him it wasn’t.

“I asked him two or three times if he could keep going, because at the time, I didn’€™t know what it was. I thought it was the stomach and when you see someone grabbing there you immediately think stomach muscle, which is the worst,” Rivers said. “That’€™s why in our era, we didn’€™t do sit-ups, so we could never hurt that muscle, but that was my fear, and that’€™s a bad injury. And it wasn’€™t that. So after Eddie told me it wasn’€™t that, I was good.”

Friday marks the first home game for the Celtics in 16 days and the first since the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I’m looking forward to [Friday], being home, back in Beantown. Very much so,” Garnett said. “We haven’t been home since all the current events and everything. So, yes, we’re anticipating it being very emotional, very inspiring, and we’re looking forward to coming out and trying to get this Game 3.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA
Doc Rivers: ‘I thought the fouls on [Kevin Garnett] were horrendous and had a huge effect’ 04.24.13 at 1:03 am ET
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NEW YORK — The Celtics wanted more out of Kevin Garnett and got it in Game 2, as he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

But in the mind of coach Doc Rivers, it could’ve been more – much more – if it weren’t for the officials. For the second straight game, Garnett got into foul trouble, with three fouls at halftime and five midway through the fourth quarter. When the Celtics needed him the most, Garnett couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm in the second half, and Rivers said the officiating early had an impact in the end.

“I thought the fouls on Kevin were horrendous, and had a huge effect on us,” Rivers said after the 87-71 loss in which Boston scored 23 points in the second half. “He never got his rhythm when you could see he was going to have a game. It hurt us.”

Garnett felt the frustration as well, but held back a bit, deflecting some of the criticism on himself.

“At times, it’s frustrating,” Garnett said. “But fouls are part of the game. Refs are calling things but it’s an aggressive time in postseason play. I just have to be consistent and position myself not to foul so much.”

The trio of David Jones, Rodney Mott and Derrick Stafford officiated the game, which ended with Garnett and Paul Pierce each with five fouls before they were taken out after the game was out of reach with four minutes left.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, NBA
Doc Rivers on his offense: ‘So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots’ at 12:39 am ET
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NEW YORK — Celtics coach Doc Rivers took full responsibility for the historic futility of his offense has suffered through in dropping the first two games of their series at Madison Square Garden.

For the second straight game, the Celtics established a playoff franchise record for fewest points in a half when they scored just 23 in the second half of Tuesday’s 87-71 loss to the Knicks.

“We are who we are,” Rivers said when asked about the effect of not having Rajon Rondo available. “We can’t apologize for that. That is who we have been left with and I think it is good enough to win. So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots. We can play better and we have to play better.”

The Celtics led 48-42 at the half. But Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes early in the third quarter, part of a 29-6 New York run that put the Knicks in complete control. The Celtics were outscored 32-11 and converted just 4-of-17 shots from the floor in posting another abysmal third-quarter performance.

“They attacked us,” Rivers said. “We didn’t handle it very well. We have to be able to do better. I don’t know what we are doing wrong in the beginning of third quarters but we gave up those two back-to-back threes, which helped their confidence. It was a tale of two halves.”

Paul Pierce led the way with 18 points but came out with four minutes left as the Celtics conceded.

“He needs some help,” Rivers said. “I think Paul was playing pretty well. He started getting tired in the second half because he tried to do everything.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Iman Shumpert, NBA
Bad sequel: C’s repeat their horrific Game 1, fall again to Knicks in Game 2 04.23.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Another horrific second-half drought. Another very bad result for the Celtics.

Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, NBA “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith added 19 while Raymond Felton (16 points) chipped in with several big drives to the basket, as the Knicks beat the Celtics, 87-71, in Game 2 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The series now shifts back to Boston with the Celtics, down 0-2, facing a virtual must-win on Friday night at TD Garden.

Paul Pierce scored 18 while Kevin Garnett added a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) for the Celtics, who suffered through another horrendous second-half drought, blowing a nine-point lead late in the first half to fall two games down to the Atlantic Division champs. After scoring just 25 points in the second half Saturday in Game 1, and eight in the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored just 11 points in the third quarter and finished the second half with just 23 points, the lowest second-half scoring output in team playoff history since the introduction of the shot clock.

The Celtics appeared to have momentum early. They built a 20-15 lead in the first quarter on Jason Terry‘s first field goal of the series. After going 0-for-5 in Game 1, Terry’s 3-pointer was the first of three treys in the first half. But the Knicks then ran off the next 12 points, closing the first quarter on an 11-0 run, thanks in part to a troubling turn at the end of the period.

Smith hit a jumper with 6.8 seconds left to put the Knicks up 23-20. Pierce committed a turnover and the Knicks found Smith, who drained a 36-foot three at the buzzer, putting the Knicks up 26-20.

After the Knicks went up 27-20, the Celtics answered with the next 11 points as Terry led a resurgent bench. When Pierce hit a 12-foot turnaround with 1:02 left in the second quarter, Boston had its biggest lead, 48-39. That would be the last time the Celtics had control.

The Knicks scored the final three points as another Pierce turnover kept Boston from building momentum at the half. As hot as the Celtics were in shooting 11-of-18 from the field in the second quarter, the Knicks were just as cold, making just 4-of-17 shots.

Those three points at the end of the first half started a remarkable turnaround for New York. Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes to open the third quarter as the Knicks exploded on a 29-6 run. Before the third quarter was over, the Knicks had outscored the Celtics 32-11, building their lead up to 15, 74-59, heading into the fourth. It was a complete role reversal for the two teams in the third, as the Celtics made just 4-of-18 while the Knicks were blazing hot, converting 12-of-17 from the field.

Pierce rattled in a three with 9:47 to cut New York’s lead down to 11, 76-65. Jordan Crawford hit a jumper over Steve Novak with 9:15 left and Boston trimmed the deficit to single digits, 76-67.

Following a Knicks timeout, Anthony hit a shot over Garnett with 8:56 left to put the Knicks up, 78-67. After two Garnett free throws, it was Anthony again with a jumper. The Garden crowd exploded when Felton fed Smith with 7:52 left for an alley-oop dunk putting New York ahead, 82-69. After Garnett picked up his fifth foul with 6:28 left, Felton hit a mid-range jumper at the free throw line to put New York up, 84-69.

Pierce and Garnett came out with just over four minutes left as the Celtics conceded their second straight playoff loss in New York. With the Knicks up, 2-0, the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday night at 8 p.m. at TD Garden. Game 4 will also be played in Boston (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

For more from Mike Petraglia with the Celtics in New York, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, NBA playoffs, New York Knicks
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