|Doc Rivers: ‘Of course’ Celtics want to avoid Heat in playoffs.. ‘I’m not that dumb’||04.06.13 at 1:39 am ET|
Not that there was much of a doubt to begin with but Doc Rivers made it very clear after Friday’s 97-91 loss to the Cavaliers (which snapped Cleveland’s 10-game losing streak) that he wants no part of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Thanks to the Bucks loss in New York to the Knicks Friday night, the Celtics (39-37) are two games up in the loss column on Milwaukee for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with just six games left.
Does he pay attention to the standings?
“I do but I don’t,” Rivers said in his best hedging language. “I really don’t. I know we’re in the seventh spot. I know we want to stay out of the eighth spot.
So, Rivers is actually admitting he wants avoid the Heat?
“Of course we would,” Rivers admitted when asked that very question. “But if we play them, we’ll be ready. But of course we would. Listen, I’m not that dumb. I’m not the brightest guy but come on. Really, you would love to avoid anyone [like Miami]. Listen, no matter who we play, we’re going to play a tough team. It’s going to be New York, Indiana or Miami. There’s no cakewalk for us. It’s going to be hard.”
To Rivers point, the Celtics are 1-3 this year against New York, 1-2 against Miami and 2-0 against Indiana. The Celtics play the Heat next weekend in Miami and the Pacers at the Garden on April 16.
Rivers was asked if he’s going out of his way to avoid playing his stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get them as physically ready for the playoffs as possible. But Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte took that decision out of his hands just before Friday’s game.
“No, I wanted Paul to play [against Cleveland] but he couldn’t, honestly,” Rivers said. “I would’ve played him if he could have. But right [before game] when Eddie said Paul’s [ankle] was swollen, that was an easy decision.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted after Friday night’s 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden that he is watching the standings and wants to avoid finishing eighth in the Eastern conference and a first round match up with the defending world champion Miami Heat. Rivers however stressed that whoever the Celtics face if it’s the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, it will be a tough matchup.
|Easter bummer: Hot-shooting Knicks overcome Jeff Green and Paul Pierce, beat Celtics||03.31.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
Jeff Green and Paul Pierce were not enough to overcome a 3-point barrage as the Knicks blew out the Celtics, 108-89, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
Pierce had 24 points and 15 rebounds while Green led the Celtics with 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field as the Celtics (38-35) had their modest two-game winning streak snapped. Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points to lead the Knicks, who won their eighth straight to improve to 46-26. Big man Chris Copeland came off the Knicks bench to score 22 points, as New York won the season series, 3-1.
While Pierce and Green were highly productive, Boston’s three other starters, Avery Bradley, Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass could only manage two points apiece and combined to shoot 3-for-11 from the floor.
The loss all but assured the Celtics of seeing their five-year reign atop of the Atlantic Division come to an end. Boston is 8.5 games behind the Knicks but more importantly, now 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are now just 2.5 games ahead of eighth-place Milwaukee, two games in the loss column.
The Knicks raced out to a halftime lead of 65-48 thanks to a scorching performance from beyond the 3-point circle. The Knicks made 11-of-16 attempts from 3-point range as the Celtics allowed a season-high in first-half points. New York finished 14-of-27 from long range while the Celtics were just 7-of-25 from 3-point range.
Anthony had 18 of his 24 points in the first half to lead New York.
The Celtics were within 11, 55-44, when the Knicks closed out the first half on a 10-4 run. Boston closed to within 11 again midway through the third but the Knicks again closed with a big run, 11-4, to head into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 86-69 lead.
Avery Bradley continues to struggle, finishing with just two points in 24 minutes on 1-of-5 shooting with one rebound and one assist before fouling out in the final two minutes.
Pierce did not play in the fourth quarter as the Knicks built their lead up to as many as 21. Pierce was spotted with an ice pack on his right foot for the entire quarter. The Celtics said it was simply a precaution and that there is no serious injury involved.
The Celtics left immediately after the game for a game Monday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Boston returns home for a Wednesday night game against Detroit, a game that kicks off a four-game homestand at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Pat Riley to Danny Ainge: ‘Shut the F— up and manage’ the Celtics||03.29.13 at 7:11 pm ET|
Miami Heat president Pat Riley didn’t take kindly to what his counterpart in Boston told WEEI on Thursday.
Danny Ainge told WEEI’s Salk & Holley he thought it bordered on embarrassing that LeBron James would complain about foul calls in Miami’s 27-game streak-ending loss to the Bulls Wednesday night.
Palm Beach Post columnist Ethan J. Skolnick was among the first to tweet Riley’s official reaction, delivered to the media by a team official: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
Correction to Riley quote: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team.” My bad. Typing too fast.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 29, 2013
James was far more mild-mannered.
“I’m not surprised about anything that comes from Boston,” Skolnick tweeted.
Ainge delivered his response to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“We’re both right,” Ainge said. “LeBron should stop complaining and I should manage my own team.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has his own unique perspective. He played for Pat Riley with the Knicks at the end of his career. He tells stories of how tough Riley was on his own players and their conditioning. Rivers also played against Ainge in the prime of his career, when Ainge was on the Celtics and Rivers was on the Celtics.
“Yeah, I think it’s funny,” Rivers said. “I think it’s very interesting. I can relate. It’s cool. I think they should duke it out.”
Does Friday’s exchange add anything to the Celtics-Heat rivalry?
“Not unless they’re playing,” Rivers said. “Really. I just think it’s just talk both ways. I’ll just let those two grown men handle their own grown men argument. I’m going to stay out of it. On a side note, it gives me a smile and it’s interesting. I think it’s fun. It’s a flashback.”
Rivers wasn’t about to pass judgement either way on the fouls called on James at the end of the game with the Bulls on Wednesday.
“I did see those fouls,” Rivers said, before being asked what he thought. “I don’t know. I’m going to stay out of it.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Carmelo Anthony: ‘It’s a great feeling’ to beat the Celtics||03.26.13 at 11:46 pm ET|
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 36 minutes and was helped out by J.R. Smith, who scored a game-high 32 points off the New York bench as the beat the Celtics 100-85 Tuesday night at TD Garden. With the win the Knicks won their fifth straight and improved to 43-26 and now lead the Celtics by 7 1/2 games in the Atlantic division. The Celtics five-year reign as division champions appears certain to come to an end the season.
“We want to beat them,” Anthony said. “Let’s just be quite frank about them. We always want to beat Boston. New York in anything wants to beat Boston. And when we do it it’s a great feeling. Right now, we’re playing good basketball. Great road win for us, especially here in this arena. Knowing how hostile it can get here, knowing how well they play here at home in front of their fans. It just says a lot about our team at this moment.”
Anthony played in back-to-back games for the first time since getting his right knee drained and he said the winning helps the recovery.
“For me it’s just taking it day by day,” Anthony said. “Just seeing what happens and staying on top of what I need to stay on top of as far as injuries and things like that. Just trying to stay healthy. You can’t really control injuries but you can do things to try to prevent them.”
Anthony scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Knicks waited for another player to step forward.
“For me I know my mindset was just to be as aggressive as I can,” Anthony said. “Offensively, defensively, my team fed off me. JR came off the bench and took it over from there. There was sometimes during the game we were looking to follow his lead out there. Anytime he’s playing like that, it always makes us tough to beat.”
That player turned out to be J.R. Smith, who scored 21 points in the first half, on his way to a 32-point night against Boston.
“When he’s attacking its kind of hard to stop that,” Anthony said. “He attacks, he gets to the free throw line, he can make outside shots. We feed off of him. We let him do his thing and we space out. He finds guys out there on the basketball court and it’s just a matter of us making shots.”
|Fast Break: J.R. Smith, Knicks knock out Celtics||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.
All five starters scored in the first six minutes of the game for the Celtics, who were without Kevin Garnett (left foot) and Courtney Lee (left ankle) for the second straight game.
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.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated before practice Monday that he felt Lee would likely be able to return against the Knicks and the reports on his ankle were positive.
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.
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