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Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘can’t win without Rajon Rondo’ 04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics, who are in a 2-0 hole against the Knicks in their Eastern Conference playoff series following Tuesday night’s 87-71 loss at Madison Square Garden.

“They can’t win without Rajon Rondo. It kind of just boils down to that,” Mannix said. “It was such a gutty first half, how they played. They defended, they made shots, Jason Terry was big for them. But the second half, when the Knicks came out with a modicum of defensive intensity, they could do nothing, because they don’t have anyone on the floor that knows how to manufacture shots. [Paul] Pierce did the best he could, but it was pretty clear to me that the Knicks were loading up on him and really putting a focus on keeping him under control in the second half, contesting more shots in the second half. And without Rondo, they got nothing in the paint. Everything was a contested jump shot off one or two passes.

“In a lot of ways, it’s kind of depressing to watch. Because the Knicks, they’re not a good defensive team. They were good for like five games in the month of November. Then all of a sudden they reverted back to Carmelo Anthony ball, circa 2008, and decided to outscore people. But the Knicks, when they put any kind of pressure on the Celtics last night, they just didn’t have anything in terms of playmaking that could respond.”

The Celtics were able to play well for stretches after Rondo’s season-ending ACL injury in the regular season, but Mannix noted that the style and intensity in the playoffs are a different matter.

Said Mannix: “We’ve seen first-hand the last two years what Rondo has done for this team in the playoffs — he’s been the best player on the floor every single year. ‘€¦ He just creates shots, and he wreaks havoc in the paint. You simply can’t replace that.”

Jeff Green‘s inconsistency continues to be an issue. After recording 26 points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, Green had 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting with one rebound in almost 35 minutes Tuesday.

“I don’t know what it is, other than the fact that it’s just kind of who Jeff Green is at this point,” Mannix said. “He has been a workhorse for him in the second half of the season, and so many nights you can see just that talent. But I can tell you this: The inconsistency was maddening to Oklahoma City back in the day. They wanted to keep Jeff Green, they offered him a good contract extension. But they weren’t willing to go as high as Jeff Green wanted them to go because of that inconsistency. It was a big part of it. They didn’t know if he was going to be that guy every single night. At his best, he’s one of the most versatile forwards in the NBA, he can do a lot at either forward spot from the perimeter and on the inside. But some nights, as you mentioned, he does disappear. That’s one of the most frustrating things about Green, and that’s something I think that until he resolves, it’s always going to hold him back.”

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Read More: Chris Mannix, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
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
Tuesday shootaround: Jeff Green says C’s ‘can still play good without force-feeding’ Kevin Garnett at 11:45 am ET
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NEW YORK — Jeff Green isn’t necessarily buying into the theory that the Celtics have to get Kevin Garnett involved on every possession he’s on the court for the Celtics to have a chance of tying the series, 1-1.

“I think we have one of the best coaches [Doc Rivers] in the league who can figure out the adjustment and how we can still play good without force-feeding [Garnett],” Green said Tuesday morning prior to the team’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.

But Green added later that an established Garnett in the post will clearly increase the chances of Boston walking out of MSG with a victory in Game 2 Tuesday night.

“Well, to make it easier for him in the post, I’ve got to continue to be aggressive off the dribble, trying to get to get to the rim, because if I do that it’s going to take a man [to guard me] in the post and open up a lane for Kevin,” Green said.

Green scored a team-high 26 points and played nearly 46 minutes in Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the New York Knicks. Rivers Green also said he needs to work through the fatigue to remain productive. Green scored 20 points in the first half but only six in the second half as the Celtics offense went cold. Green split time with Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass in guarding Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 but needed 29 shots to do so.

“I just have to do it. I have to play through the fatigue,” Green said. “I have to continue to look for mine, basically. There’s no excuses now. I want to be out there. I want to compete. I want to play against the best. I want to guard Carmelo. I want to do it all. It’s something I just have to get through.

“Just continue to be more aggressive in the open court, that’s about it. Defensively, continue to make everything for Carmelo tough, keep him off the offensive boards and get all the 50-50 plays.”

Green is confident that if he remains aggressive, the offensive – and points – will continue to flow for him.

“I got to the free throw line,” said Green, who made all seven free throws Saturday. “I made a couple of shots outside on the perimeter to get me going and I got some layups in transition. That’s how you get yourself going. That’s how you get a rhythm.”

Told that Anthony feels this is a “must-win” game for the Knicks before the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday, Green said Boston feels the same way.

“Every game is a must-win game,” Green said. “It’s the playoffs. That’s the only way you can move on is to win. We go into every game thinking it’s a must-win.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green
Sunday notes: Celtics need a way to feed Kevin Garnett, get more out of Jason Terry, bench 04.21.13 at 2:08 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday. Instead, they hunkered down in a suite inside the Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan to go over the ugly details of their 85-78 loss to the Knicks in Game 1 Saturday afternoon.

Specifically, what happened in the final 13 minutes, 40 seconds when they scored exactly eight points.

Part of the issue, admitted coach Doc Rivers, was not efficiently feeding Kevin Garnett, and forcing it to him when he wasn’t open, leading to the avalanche of turnovers that led to their demise.

‘€œI thought, from an offensive standpoint, I didn’€™t have a lot of different opportunities,” Garnett said. “Obviously, I had shots and stuff. Some went down, some didn’€™t. But I try not to let that predicate things or my level of play. I thought I moved the ball very well, got other guys open, was able to rebound obviously, trying to be as much of a force as I can on defense. In Game 2, I’€™d like to be a little more aggressive, obviously, but being consistent with the overall game.’€

For the first time in his career, Jason Terry was held scoreless in a playoff game. But Terry was far from alone on an unproductive Boston bench. To Rivers, it was a case of something he likes to call “hero-ball” – where the ball stagnates and teammates watch as one player tries to generate something all by himself.

‘€œWe didn’€™t do a good job with Terry [Saturday], especially in the second half, there were so many [isolations] that Jason has nothing to do with,” Rivers said. “In the first half, Jason didn’€™t score, but we ran that play with the pick-and-roll with him and Paul. We scored five times in a row because of Jason Terry’€™s involvement, so I don’€™t actually look at if he scored. I look at the points he created, and in the first half he created 12 points. In the second half, it was all ISOs. I mean, it’€™s not us. We’€™re not built that way.’€

Courtney Lee provided the only four points (all on free throws) as Boston’s reserves were outscored by New York’s bench, 33-4. Boston didn’t get a single field goal from their bench in the entire game.

‘€œI’€™m looking for a better overall effort, whether it’€™s the bench, whether it’€™s the starters,’€ Paul Pierce said. ‘€œThe starters, you look, me and Jeff [Green] had 12 turnovers ‘€“ just us two. We have to be better, regardless of our bench. Overall as a team, we have to be better.’€

Rivers acknowledged that he might look to shake up a bench rotation was limited solely to Terry, Jordan Crawford and Lee. Rivers said he would consider adding a big man to the rotation, either Shav Randolph or Chris Wilcox. Crawford played just 10 minutes, 46 seconds, including just over three minutes in the second half.

“I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half,” Rivers said. “It’€™s funny, he didn’€™t score, but he created baskets. And, I’€™ll tell you, he’€™s buying in defensively and if he can continue to do that, then he has a chance to help us.”

Speaking of the Four Seasons Hotel, that’s also where Rivers’ old friend Tom Thibodeau and Chicago Bulls are spending their weekend in the Big Apple. Their Saturday was even worse in Brooklyn as they were down by 25 at halftime and lost Game 1 at Barclays Center. They will play Game 2 Monday night in Brooklyn.

‘€œIt’€™s not a good hotel today,’€ Rivers said in dark humor. ‘€œTwo losing teams, I think one should leave. This was a quiet, dark hotel last night. The New York area teams didn’€™t treat the guests very well.”

While Rivers expects the Celtics to execute better in Game 2 Tuesday night, he expects the same of the Knicks, who shot just 40.5 percent and had two starters (Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland) who went scoreless. J.R. Smith, who torched the Celtics for 32 in late March at TD Garden, made just 7-of-19 shots and finished with 15.

‘€œThey’€™re going to play better, too,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œJ.R. Smith missed a couple open 3s. [Steve] Novak didn’€™t get involved. So we have to anticipate them playing way better, and then we have to play way better. And that’€™s what, in the playoffs, you just have to anticipate that.’€

The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday but will on Monday at Madison Square Garden in advance of Game 2.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Doc Rivers, NBA playoffs
Jeff Green: ‘We just got tired, I guess’ 04.20.13 at 8:29 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The numbers were so obviously bad no one could avoid them afterward.

  • 21 turnovers leading to 20 New York points, nearly 25 percent of the Knicks total on the day.
  • Six turnovers each by starters Paul Pierce and Jeff Green.
  • 3 more turnovers (10) in the second half than field goals (7).
  • New York’s bench out-scored Boston’s reserves 33-4.
  • 25 points in the second half, eight in the fourth quarter.
  • Boston led 70-63 with 1:20 left in the third. They were outscored 22-8 in the final 13 minutes, 40 seconds.

    Add them all up and you get Knicks 85, Celtics 78 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden.

    What did the Celtics have to say for themselves afterward?

    “We turned the ball over a ton and I thought our spacing was horrendous in the second half,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ” I thought each guy held the ball and tried to make their own play and I talked about that before the game. That’s not who we are. We can’t be that way, and we tried to play that way in the second half. I really couldn’t get them out of it, either, so that was disappointing.

    “We had bad turnovers. If we had those turnovers in any game, you probably should lose the game, and we did.”

    Pierce: “Some [turnovers] were forced, some were just bonehead plays. We have got to have better execution. Everyone has to know where they’ve got to be on the floor. Everyone has to get to their spots, understand when we get to the fourth quarter, everyone has to be on the same page. Games are too big at this point for us to be at that point, especially in the playoffs down the stretch.”

    Green: “We just got tired, I guess. We just have to figure out a way to close out quarters and close out the game. We were in a great position to take over the game, to win the game. Turnovers killed us.”

  • Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, NBA
    Carmelo Anthony: Booing Paul Pierce pre-game was not ‘the right thing to do’ at 7:36 pm ET
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    NEW YORK — New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 points in New York’s 85-78 Game 1 win over the Boston Celtics Saturday at Madison Square Garden, says it was wrong of some New York fans to boo Paul Pierce before the game as both Anthony and Pierce addressed the crowd to pay tribute to the City of Boston, which was attacked this past week and held hostage on Friday.

    Anthony spoke to the crowd just moments before the national anthem and stood at mid-court, just a short distance away from the color guard, which was presented by the Boston Fire Department. He received a big ovation for his tribute to the people of Boston, saying, “our prayers are with the City of Boston.”

    But then, as Pierce was introduced, some in the crowd booed the Celtics captain before other New York fans quieted them down with their own cheers.

    “I don’t think that was the right thing to do, boo somebody like that,” Anthony said after the game. “At the end of the day, we all know what happened in Boston. Our prayers go out to the families and the City of Boston. In a situation like today, we all want … it’s all about the U.S. It’s our country. And it’s sad we have to go through unfortunate tragedies like that. Whoever booed him shouldn’t have booed him, not in a situation like that.”

    Read More: Boston Celtics, Boston Marathon, Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
    Irish Coffee: Breaking down Celtics vs. Knicks 04.19.13 at 3:25 pm ET
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    It’€™s only fitting that Boston and New York will meet again in a playoff series.

    An underlying respect between the two cities rose to the surface this week, when the Yankees honored Red Sox Nation with a ‘€œUnited We Stand‘€ sign outside their Stadium and sang Neil Diamond’€™s ‘€œSweet Caroline’€ inside. Bound further now by more than a rivalry, we can only hope sports provide the same small distraction and healing power in Boston that they did in New York City after Sept. 11, 2001.

    As we did during Wednesday’€™s emotional National Anthem at the Bruins game, let’€™s attempt to welcome that distraction and healing power in the aftermath of the cowardly Boston Marathon bombings and ensuing manhunt by previewing the first-round NBA playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks.

    CENTER

    Kevin Garnett (29.7 MIN, 14.8 PTS, 7.8 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.9 BLK)
    Vs. Tyson Chandler (32.8 MIN, 10.4 PTS, 10.7 REB, 1.1 BLK, 0.9 AST, 0.6 STL)

    The two erstwhile Defensive Players of the Year have each served as anchors of NBA title teams and enter this series dealing with recent injuries. While Chandler (neck) has relative youth and superior rebounding on his side, Garnett (ankle) is a more versatile offensive threat, illustrating a far wider shooting range and facilitating at a higher rate. There’€™s a reason one’€™s a future Hall of Famer and the other made his first All-Star roster this winter.

    Slight advantage: Celtics

    POWER FORWARD

    Brandon Bass (27.6 MIN, 8.7 PTS, 5.2 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.8 BLK, 0.5 STL)
    Vs. Carmelo Anthony (37.0 MIN, 28.7 PTS, 6.9 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK)

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    Read More: 2013 NBA playoffs, Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett
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