|Kevin Garnett: ‘I’m going to play until it’s over’||04.27.13 at 2:05 am ET|
It’s not that they didn’t want to win Game 3 against the Knicks. They desperately wanted it. Not just to avoid a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 hole in the first round of these NBA Playoffs, but to mend their city’s broken heart. To give Bostonians something to believe in. The Celtics just couldn’t will anything better than a 90-76 defeat.
“Obviously, the result is not what we wanted,” said Garnett, “but looking in the stands, seeing people drunk, having fun and high-fiving for the most part was good. It was a good two-and-a-half hour diversion if you will.”
If the C’s want anything beyond another short-lived diversion on Sunday, they need more than Garnett’s ever-beating heart, which manufactured 12 points and 17 rebounds on a tough shooting night (5-13 FG).
“I’m going to play until it’s over,” said Garnett, who contributed 35 minutes in the loss. “I’m not usually broken. It’s always been my mentality. It always probably will. That’s what it is. I’ve been to the bottom before. I know what it is. I’m a fighter at the end of the day, but it takes more than one person.”
Actually, it’ll take every person to avoid a sweep. Three Knicks again did the damage — Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith combining for 56 points — and the C’s lacked the firepower to respond. Jeff Green and Paul Pierce committed 10 turnovers, and everyone else was worse. Garnett’s guts only get them so far.
Sometimes you can want something so bad, you hurt your chances of accomplishing your goals.
Such was the case for Paul Pierce and the Celtics before a TD Garden crowd desperate to rally behind them in light of the Boston Marathon tragedy of the last two weeks. The Celtics came out flat and never recovered in a 90-76 loss to the Knicks that leaves them in a 3-0 hole from which no NBA team has ever overcome.
‘I thought there was a lot of energy in the building,” Pierce said. “I thought we wanted it so bad, we were so anxious. You want it so bad and you rush, and get real anxious. And I thought that’s what we did tonight. I thought we played hard, had some good looks. The ball just didn’t bounce our way.’
The Celtics have not scored 80 points in any of their three games of the series, becoming the first Celtics team in playoff history to achieve that bit of unwanted history.
‘The Knicks are really doing a good job on defense, trying to take us out of our offense,” Pierce said. “I think our 3-point game hasn’t really been there the whole series. We haven’t really got to the line a ton. But we have got to figure it out. We have got to do a better job of knocking down open shots, we’ve got to get to the free throw line, got to move the ball. Can’t turn the ball over. We turned the ball over a lot tonight and I think that’s something that’s biting us.’
Indeed, the Celtics committed 18 turnovers resulting in 26 New York points while the Knicks committed just 11 resulting in only eight points.
‘You know, I was surprised. I thought we were a team that matched up really well with the Knicks. I thought we played them pretty good throughout the season. We lost a couple close ones but I didn’t expect this coming in. I knew this would probably be a long series being the way we matched up, so I am surprised we are down 0-3 right now.’
Does Pierce believe the Celtics can accomplish history?
‘Yeah. I think that’s all it’s going to take right now, one game at a time,” Pierce said. “That’s got to be the focus. We’re going to look ahead, the focus is Sunday, and then we’ll go from there.
‘I think it was tough because you try to make a run and then they make a big three. You miss wide open shots, you miss a layup, then they make a tough basket. You get yourself in those types of situations and it gets tougher. You look at each other, you look down, some guys lose their confidence. But you have got to stick with it and understand it’s hard, it’s not easy. It’s going to be difficult. The playoffs are hard to win and we’ve got to figure out a way to grind through.’
|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.
|Danny Ainge ‘not particularly thrilled’ with Knicks matchup||04.25.13 at 5:52 pm ET|
During his weekly Thursday appearance with Salk & Holley, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stopped short of saying he thought his C’s are the better team in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Knicks.
“We don’t think that we’ve played like we are capable of playing,” said Ainge. “It’s one thing to lose to a team who deserves to beat you and is a better team, but I feel like we’ve come out ready to play and I have no idea why the beginning of the third quarter in the last two games has not been good.”
Asked to clarify his comments, Ainge showered praise on the Knicks, who lead the series 2-0 and have held the Celtics to 48 combined second-half points.
“They’re very good. I have a great deal of respect for the Knicks, and Carmelo [Anthony] is a great player — maybe the toughest matchup in the entire league,” he said. “He’s right there in the same category as difficult a matchup as the Lebron [James]es and the Kevin Durants and the Kobe Bryants. He’s one of those types of players that can score against certain defense. So, no, I’m not particularly thrilled with the matchup.”
Still, Ainge placed the blame on his players. The Celtics simply haven’t lived up to their ability.
“We just need to play with more mental and physical toughness,” he said. “This isn’t the team I’ve seen play all year. The first halves have been, but not the second half. I wish I had an explanation, but we just need to be tougher, instigating the physical play. I think that they are getting into us, and we’re not responding. I’d like to see us instigate and initiate contact and be aggressive and not let their pressure affect us as much as it has.”
And the blame doesn’t rest with just one or two Celtics. They’ve pretty much all been been underwhelming.
“It’s everybody,” said Ainge. “It’s gotta be everybody. Avery [Bradley] embodies toughness. Paul Pierce is toughness to us, and Jeff Green — when he’s playing the way that we need him to play — he’s asserting himself and tough. And we know how tough Jason Terry is. And right on down the line. It takes everybody. Brandon Bass. It takes every one of the guys. We don’t have a team where we can rely on one or two guys. We have to get good performances out of the whole team.”
“We’ve got to have contributions from the whole team,” he added. “You can’t do it with one or two guys like New York has done. We don’t have that kind of scoring power. We don’t have the league’s leading scorer on our team right now, so we have to get contributions out of a lot of people.”
Got it? Good. Now here are the remaining highlights of Ainge’s interview, which can be heard in full on the Salk & Holley audio on demand page:
|Avery Bradley not with Celtics to start practice, Kevin Garnett ‘confident’ for Game 3||at 12:48 pm ET|
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.”
|Doc Rivers: Kevin Garnett ‘good to go’ for Game 3||04.24.13 at 5:14 pm ET|
“It was affecting him,” said Rivers. “In a couple timeouts, I kept asking him if was he OK, and he is. He’s good. He’s good to go. He’ll practice [Thursday] and then play on Friday.”
|Irish Coffee: When did the Celtics become the Knicks?||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.