|Fast Break: J.R. Smith, Knicks knock out Celtics||03.26.13 at 9:50 pm ET|
J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony combined for 61 points and the Knicks delivered a 100-85 knockout of a Celtics team without Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee that all but ended the C’s reign atop the Atlantic Division.
Jeff Green, Paul Pierce, Jordan Crawford, Brandon Bass and Jason Terry all reached double figures, but the C’s committed 20 turnovers and couldn’t stop New York on the other end. Here’s what else went wrong.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Ugly start: It took almost three minutes for either team to score, and neither club’s former NBA Defensive Player of the Year was involved. The Celtics missed their first three shots and committed a pair of turnovers while the Knicks missed their first five attempts until an Anthony (29 points, 8 rebounds) layup broke a scoreless game 2:42 into the first quarter. This wasn’t exactly the epic Celtics-Knicks battle national television had banked on.
J.R. Smith: The Knicks Sixth Man scored 32 points on 24 shots (oddly, just three 3-pointers) in 35 minutes. He outscored the entire Celtics bench by 13 points. Smith also grabbed four of his six first-half rebounds on the offensive end, helping New York establish a comfortable 58-44 halftime lead.
Chris Wilcox: Speaking of rebounds, Chris Wilcox had none in 10 minutes. That’s not good, and neither were his five total boards in three previous games. Meanwhile, the Knicks reached double-digit offensive rebounds by halftime, netting 50 points in the paint and outscoring the C’s 29-6 in second-chance points for the game. Meanwhile, D.J. White and his eight boards per 36 minutes in his career rode the pine until the final three minutes and Shavlik Randolph out-rebounded Wilcox 4-0 in five garbage minutes.
Avery Bradley: The lone healthy Celtics pitbull hasn’t had much bite on the offensive end. He’s shooting worse than 40 percent this month and hasn’t hit half of his shots in a game for more than two weeks. That includes Tuesday night’s 3-for-11, six-point effort against the Knicks that featured a pair of badly missed layups.
|Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Knicks||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.
|Doc Rivers rules out Courtney Lee while Jordan Crawford starts as Jason Terry prefers bench||at 6:50 pm ET|
In a bit of a surprise announcement, Courtney Lee will miss his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, rolled last Friday night in Dallas. Jordan Crawford will start in his place.
Adding fuel to that fire was Lee’s presence on the court for pre-game shootaround two hours before Tuesday’s tip.
But Rivers announced 45 minutes before the tip with the Knicks that the guard, who had an MRI on Monday, would not be available. Adding to the concern level on Lee is that he is also unlikely to play Wednesday night in Cleveland.
‘No,’ Rivers said in announcing whether Lee would play against New York. Asked if Cleveland were a possibility on Wednesday, Rivers added, ‘I doubt it. I think he may go, but we’ll see.
‘He just didn’t improve much [from Monday]. You pretty much prepare for anything. Just a lot of injuries right now for us, and for [the Knicks].’
Rivers announced Crawford will start in Lee’s place after a talk with Jason Terry in which the veteran guard said he would rather come off the bench.
‘I’m going with Jordan,’ Rivers said. ‘It was more JET really does not like to start. He likes coming off the bench.
‘I talked to JET about it. You could just see it. He likes being in his role. When he knows Courtney will be back, and other guys will be back, so he’d rather just stay in his own role. That’s rare. Most guys love hearing their name called, with the flames and all that. But Jason’s over that at this point in his career. And he really believes he’s better for the team coming off the bench. So that’s refreshing. It’s nice.’
For the Knicks, Tyson Chandler is missing his seventh straight game with a neck injury.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers won’t make the same mistake Brent Musburger did||03.25.13 at 7:31 pm ET|
WALTHAM — You wouldn’t know the Celtics were on a four-game losing streak by the mood of the coaching staff and the team captain prior to Monday’s practice.
Doc Rivers said Monday he has been enjoying the NCAA tournament and the accomplishments of his alma mater Marquette and Florida Gulf Coast University. When asked about Florida Gulf Coast University coach Andy Enfield, Rivers would only say he has “a lot of good things going on in his life right now,” a reference to Enfield’s attractive wife, Amanda Marcum.
Rivers said he is not going to make the same mistake Brent Musburger made during the BCS title game in college football, when Musburger publicly fawned over Katherine Webb, the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.
Meanwhile, before practice began, Paul Pierce brought Rivers and the coaching staff to midcourt to pay off some sort of wager. Rivers told Pierce, “Let’s do this now,” then told camera crews to stay around and tape the first five minutes, presumably as proof that the coaches and Rivers made good on the deal. One side note however, Rivers was not required to run the sprints. Here’s that proof from Monday.
Among those in the sprints were assistants Kevin Eastman, Armond Hill, Ty Lue and Jamie Young.
But that didn’t happen, and to make matters worse, Martin is playing for a team that is threatening to run away from the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after Boston’s four-game losing streak has dropped them 6.5 games behind the Knicks entering Tuesday’s showdown at the Garden.
Doc Rivers acknowledged before Monday’s practice that Martin was on the Celtics’ radar but it never worked out. One reason, according to Rivers, it didn’t work out was the area of immediate need didn’t match. The Celtics had just lost Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa to season-ending injuries. The Celtics were looking to build depth in the back-court.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said when asked why Martin didn’t wind up with the Celtics. “We looked at all the guys, we were still looking at guards at the time. So we were in no hurry at the time for a big. We were looking for more a big of size, if you know what I mean. And by the time we got around to it, he was gone.”
With injuries to Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks were more desperate and willing to take a chance on Martin. It’s worked out quite well for New York. Martin is averaging 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 23.1 minutes per game, starting six of the 11 games.
“I think Kenyon’s been great,” Rivers said of the former All-American out of Cincinnati. “He’s been absolutely fantastic. I’m happy for Kenyon. I’m not happy that he went to the Knicks, but I am happy for him. Because he was out there and we looked at him — a lot of [teams] looked at him — and, in the end, I didn’t care where he ended up, I just wanted him to do well. I don’t know him well, but we’ve always had a very good relationship. Guys like that, you want them to do well. For me, it’s as simple as that.”
With or without Martin, the Celtics have always seemed to be primed and ready for New York. Before splitting the previous six regular season meetings over the past two seasons, the Celtics owned the Knicks. Boston swept the four games in 2010-11 and won three of four in 2009-10. And of course, they swept the Knicks in the 2011 playoffs.
“It’s New York, our guys get up for them,” Rivers said. “I think they get up for us. Up until this year and last year, we had an advantage. We had the advantage and our guys were up, that usually meant good things for us. Now it’s pretty even, but both teams get up each other. It’s a fun matchup. I preferred it better in the past, but it’s good now. I like games when guys are up for each other, I think they are a lot of fun.”
If the Celtics don’t sweep the next two games with New York in the next six days, there’s virtually no chance of Boston catching New York in the division. It will be the first time in the Pierce-Garnett-Rondo era that the Celtics haven’t won the division. But to Paul Pierce, he knows full well they could still play New York in the playoffs if the Knicks finished with the No. 3 seed and the Celtics finish sixth in the East.
“Well, definitely being that this is a team you may face in the playoffs, you get a chance to beat them a couple more times, it really takes away a team’s confidence going into the playoffs,” Pierce said. “So that’s got to be a little extra motivation. They’ve been playing well all year long, they’ve been on top of the Atlantic Division. But right now it’s about heading into the playoffs, picking up the pace. The Knicks are a team we might have to face, so we want to try to put a little bit of doubt in their minds if we can go out here and get a couple of wins verse them going into the season’s end.”
|Irish Coffee: Five reasons not to panic about Celtics||at 3:00 pm ET|
Add Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee to the list of walking Celtics wounded. While neither will join Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger on the season-ending injury manifest, only 13 games remain in the regular season, they’ve lost four straight and the goodwill built from a seven-game win streak without Rondo seems like ancient history.
So, is it finally time to bury the C’s this season? Not so fast. Here are five reasons not to panic about the current state of the Celtics, even if they only have 10 healthy bodies at this point.
They’re firmly entrenched in seventh place, even if they’re only two games up on the Bucks.
Even with Rondo, when the Celtics owned a 20-23 record and sat in eighth place, the best they could’ve hoped for was either a sixth or seventh seed and a chance to avoid the Heat until the Eastern Conference finals.
Well, Doc Rivers‘ Rondo-less charges play seven of their remaining 13 games at home, including a four-game stretch from April 3-10 that includes the Pistons, Cavaliers and Wizards. Not a brutal stretch by any measure. Meanwhile, the Bucks face the Thunder (twice), Lakers, Knicks, Heat, Hawks and Nuggets over their final 13 games — seven of which are on the road. As a result, a seventh seed seems to be the C’s most likely scenario.
Their road record isn’t as bad as it seems, even if they’re a putrid 12-23 away from home.
|Kevin Garnett expected to miss ‘4-5 games’ with foot injury, Courtney Lee likely to return||at 12:39 pm ET|
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge confirmed Monday that Garnett will be out for Tuesday’s game against the Knicks.
“Take a couple of Advil and give it some rest,” Ainge said. “Could he play [Tuesday]? Yeah but we’re not playing him [Tuesday]. The time frame, I don’t know but it’s not an ankle sprain but there’s inflammation in the ankle, sort of like an ankle sprain in unpredictability. So I think that it’s not longer than three weeks or it could be a week. I’ll guess two weeks just because we want to make sure he’s really ready. We need to get him fresh anyway.”
Doc Rivers said Garnett aggravated the injury against the Mavericks and the discomfort forced him to miss Saturday’s game in Memphis. He was sent back to Boston for an MRI.
In the meantime, Rivers said it’s likely that Garnett will miss at least “four to five games” with the injury.
“I think we’ll know more later,” Rivers said, referring to the MRI. “I would say doubtful for [Tuesday] but we’ll know more later. I don’t think Kevin is playing [Tuesday]. I’m almost positive of that but then what we want to make sure is that he’s going to be good soon.
“At the end of the day, I want him right, not half-right.”
Rivers said he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending ailment.
“But can he miss four or five games? Yeah that’s probably possible,” Rivers said. “I don’t know that but to me [season-ending] is not a concern. He hurt his foot in that Dallas game. [It’s not season-ending] unless something crazy happens in the MRI that I can tell you the first look, they didn’t see that. At the end of the day, he may miss some games.
“We’re going to err on the right side, whatever they decide. If they give me an option of you can play him every third game or give him two weeks rest, I can tell you right now I am going to say two weeks rest, if it’s my decision.”
Ainge later confirmed Rivers’ estimate, telling reporters at practice that the results of the MRI along with consultation with the team’s medical staff indicate that he’ll likely miss two weeks.
“I’ll guess two weeks, just because we want to make sure he’s really ready” said Ainge, who added that he thought Garnett originally injured the ankle against New Orleans last Wednesday.
“I think it happened in New Orleans game, it was just sore, just inflammation. A lot of things can cause inflammation. I think everyone has a little bit of inflammation this time of year. KG, we need to get him fresh anyway.”
On the bright side, Courtney Lee is expected to return from his sprained left ankle suffered in the final minute of Friday’s loss in Dallas.
Neither player took part in Monday’s practice, which included just 10 healthy Celtics.
Rivers said the Celtics will be forced to go with a smaller lineup that he says includes “no point guards” while the Knicks feature a lineup with two point guards in Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton, with Jason Kidd off the bench.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
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