|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.
|Celtics urge fans to arrive early for Game 3||at 1:59 pm ET|
Prior to Friday night’s Game 3 playoff matchup against the Knicks, the Celtics are asking fans to arrive early to the team’s first home contest since last week’s tragic Boston Marathon bombings for security purposes.
In order to allow ample time for fans to file into their seats, doors will open 90 minutes before the game’s scheduled 8 p.m. start. The Celtics are also reminding ticket-holders that current security measures are still in place, including no bags and discretionary searches.
|Jason Terry: ‘In the second half, we didn’t show up’||at 8:59 am ET|
NEW YORK — The stars finally seemed aligned. Jason Terry found his sweet spot on the floor 26 feet out on the left wing, a spot from which he hit three 3-pointers in the first half as the Celtics built a nine-point lead and led by six at the half.
Then the sweet spot turned bitterly sour, and it all fell apart for Terry and the Celtics.
He didn’t score in the second half and the Celtics managed just 23 points in the final two quarters of another abysmal playoff performance – an 87-71 loss to the Knicks Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“In the second half we didn’t show up so we look forward to going home and getting this first one,” Terry said. “I never get too high or too low. So, I’m always even keeled. It’s a long series. I always say that. We’ll see what adjustments we make going forward.”
So, what happened?
“I think they turned the pressure up and didn’t allow us to get into our offense,” Terry said. “We have to do a much better job of maintaining our pace. We got it up-tempo in the first half. Second half, we slowed down a little bit so going home just looking forward to us picking up the pace and making it a much more up-tempo game.”
Terry appeared to find his rhythm early, as his first three and first field goal of the playoffs gave Boston a 20-15 lead late in the first quarter.
“We made a good run of it in the first half,” he added. “We played our style of basketball, our tempo. But in the second half we definitely got away from what what gave us success in the first [half].”
Terry attempted just two shots in the second half and missed them both and finished with nine points.
“It’s shouldn’t differ, whether we’re down or we’re up, we have to play the same way, constant, persistent pressure on them offensively by pushing up the ball and looking for early offense. The defense has been solid. We made some errors where we’ve given up some threes that we shouldn’t have, per our game plan. For the most part, we’ve been solid. They haven’t gotten 90 points this series and neither have we. We’re going to have to pick it up offensively.”
Will Terry’s three first-half 3-pointers translate to personal momentum as the series shifts to Boston?
“Not necessarily,” Terry said. “That’s my job. I still have to be a lot more assertive and aggressive and I look forward to doing that at home.”
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