|The Celtics are dead, long live the Celtics||05.04.13 at 2:31 am ET|
The Celtics are dead, long live the Celtics.
The Knicks hosted their funeral on Wednesday, and the zombie C’s crawled out of their graves to live one more game. Then, they buried themselves alive in the first three quarters of Game 6, and nearly lived to tell about it. Grit and balls. Heart of a champion. #BostonStrong. All of it was on display amid a 20-0 run over four fourth-quarter minutes that nobody would’ve believed if the 18,624 fans filling the Garden hadn’t watched it unfold.
As Knicks guard Iman Shumpert said after an 88-80 win that finally laid these C’s to rest, “It felt like it wasn’t real.”
Only this time the ghosts of Celtics past weren’t good enough. Not without Rajon Rondo. Not on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett alone. Not anymore. So, what now? Where do these old, tired, stubborn Celtics go from here?
Will they be back for another season?
“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you. I’m kind of digesting , obviously, the current, and Doc came to me, pulled Paul and I to the side and all three of us agreed to speak later — too emotional,” Garnett said. “Obviously, it was a big game, tough loss, especially at home. But more importantly in the future, it’s a different day for that conversation.”
Pierce is signed for next season but only $5 million of his $15 million for next season is guaranteed. He could be amnestied under the new NBA CBA if GM Danny Ainge wants to overhaul the roster.
“That’s a decision for the management,” Pierce said. “Who knows what the future [holds]? I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes each and every year. So I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of changes here and we’ll see what happens.”
Garnett made it very clear that his decision about next year will hinge greatly on whether Ainge brings back Pierce.
“One of the big reasons I came [to Celtics] was because of Paul,” said Garnett. “Obviously, you want to be in a situation where it’s better. I want to make sure that I’m able to always help a team. I want to be in positions to where I’m giving something. I demand a lot of myself, both physically and from a skill level. But I’d be lying to y’all if I said Paul didn’t play into that factor. Like I said, it’s too soon of a conversation for me right now.”
Pierce, who said he will play in the NBA next season, was asked if he wants to return to Boston for a 16th season.
“That’s up to Danny and them,” Pierce said. “I have no idea.”
Coach Doc Rivers is also not a sure thing to return. He signed a five-year, $35 million extension before the 2011-12 season. He has three years left on it, that is if he wants to return.
“I don’t think about any of that stuff,” Rivers said. “Danny knows me pretty well. I immerse myself; that’s the only way I can do it, probably to a fault. Pretty much unlivable during the year. So I don’t know. Danny knows he gives me at least a week to do just whatever I do — and I don’t know what I do, sit and watch cartoons or something — then we’ll talk about it. But Danny has already worked on [offseason plans]. He never shows me. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to know anything. We’ll figure it all out, and we’ll see.”
|Fast Break: Knicks survive furious Celtics comeback||05.03.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
A montage of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the first half with the tagline “heart of a champion” left the Garden crowd in awe. Then, a Knicks barrage left those same fans in shock. Finally, the Celtics showed that heart, rattling off a 20-point run midway through the fourth quarter and making a game of it, but it proved too little, too late.
Garnett came to play, and Pierce finally showed up in the fourth quarter, but an 88-80 loss in Game 6 ended their season, opening up a Pandora’s Box of questions nobody in the Celtics organization wants to answer. That’s another story for a different day. Here’s what went wrong in their final game of the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: The Celtics were lucky to get out of the first quarter only trailing by 14 points. They shot 25 percent from the field. Garnett made his first three shots, and his teammates finished 1-of-13 in the opening quarter. Pierce went 1-for-8. While the Celtics settled for jump shots, the Knicks scored from everywhere. Seven minutes into the game, New York had as many points off turnovers as the C’s had total points. No other word to describe it but ugly.
3 falling: The Celtics missed their first nine 3-pointers, including five bricks from Pierce, and the Knicks’ defense held the Celtics to 14 points through the game’s first 18 minutes. Meanwhile, Pablo Prigioni made three of his first four attempts from beyond the arc, scoring as many points in the first quarter as he had in any game in the series.
Everything: The Celtics looked gassed. Through three quarters, they had 15 field goals and 17 turnovers. C’s not named KG made 8-of-37 shots entering the fourth quarter. It seemed as though they left everything they had on the Madison Square Garden floor in Game 5, when Garnett, Pierce, Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass combined for 201 minutes. Then, the fourth quarter happened, and the Celtics scored more points than they did in all of the first half. It was ridiculous and unsustainable all at the same time.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Green light: Nobody on the Celtics could get within 10 feet of the basket, so Jeff Green gave it a shot. And another. And another. He started just 1-of-6 but led the C’s with nine points at the break — thanks to 6-of-8 shooting from the free throw line. If anybody else could’ve beat his man off the dribble, the Celtics wouldn’t have been in such dire straits at halftime. But Pierce settled for contested jumpers when he should’ve been deferring to Green, who finished with 21 points on 12 shots. Pierce scored 14 on 18 attempts.
The runs: Any sign of life was a positive. That’s how bad the C’s offense was. Back-to-back Green and Terry 3′s with four minutes left until halftime capped an 8-0 run that left the Garden wondering, “Wait, they’re only down 10?” With four minutes remaining in the third quarter, a Terry triple punctuated a 9-2 run that did the same. And, of course, the miraculous 20-0 run in 4:05 that slashed a 75-49 game to a six-point deficit, breathing life back into the building in the fourth quarter.
Melo J.R.: The only thing that kept the Celtics from completely getting their doors blown off was another poor shooting performance by both Carmelo Anthony (7-23 FG) and J.R. Smith (5-13 FG). If only Raymond Felton (11 points, 7 assists) — who killed the Celtics all series — forgot to show up, too, the Celtics might have had a shot.
History will have to wait.
Despite one of the most furious comebacks in NBA playoff history, the Celtics‘ season came to an end Friday night with an 88-80 loss to the Knicks in Game 6 at a wild TD Garden. Boston used a 20-0 run over a four-minute span midway through the fourth quarter to cut a 26-point hole down to six, and eventually cut it to four before the Knicks held on for dear life.
Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni hit seven of their first nine attempts from 3-point range and combined for 27 points as the Knicks ended Boston’s hopes of becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.
The Knicks hit eight of their first 15 3-point attempts and turned 20 Boston turnovers into 17 points as New York clinched their first playoff series win since 2000.
The ice-cold Celtics lost in the first round for the first time since 2005, when they fell in seven games to the Pacers. In repeat of their offensive woes for most of the series, Boston scored just 27 points in the first half.
The Celtics pulled out all of the cards in their final home game of the season, including playing a video montage of the Red Sox comeback from 3-0 down in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees before the tip.
In a repeat of Game 5 in New York on Wednesday night, the Celtics got off to a very cold start. New York raced out to a 21-5 lead in the first quarter as Pablo Prigioni hit three 3-pointers. Unlike Game 5, the Celtics couldn’t immediately work their way back into the game as they started out missing 11 of their first 14 shots and finished the first quarter trailing 24-10, while shooting just 4-for-16 from the field.
No one on the Celtics struggled more than their captain. Pierce finished the first half making just one of 10 shots while missing all five from 3-point range after going 4-for-8 from long distance in Game 5. The Knicks built their lead to 18 twice in the second quarter before the Celtics answered with a 10-0 run that included consecutive threes from Jeff Green and Jason Terry, getting the Garden crowd into the game for the first time.
Carmelo Anthony carried the Knicks offensively in the first half, scoring 14 points, including a key three-point play with just 4.5 seconds left before halftime that gave New York a 39-27 halftime lead. Anthony finished with 21 points.
Garnett hit a jumper to start the third quarter to cut the deficit to 10 but Prigioni fed Tyson Chandler for a slam dunk. That was followed by a Prigioni reverse layup and a Raymond Felton jumper and New York had a 45-29 lead. After Bass hit one of two free throws, Prigioni answered with his fifth 3-pointer with 8:56 and the Knicks matched their biggest lead, 50-32. Read the rest of this entry »
|Paul Pierce on Celtics’ funeral: ‘Guess I didn’t get the memo’||05.02.13 at 12:16 am ET|
NEW YORK — Paul Pierce could not help but laugh.
After the captain scored 16 points and helped the Celtics stay alive with a 92-86 win over the Knicks in Game 5 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, Pierce talked with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell on the WEEI Celtics radio network and was asked if he missed the news that Wednesday was supposed to be the Celtics’ funeral for the season — a suggestion made by Kenyon Martin, who advised his teammates to wear black to the game.
“I guess I didn’t get the memo. I guess this wasn’t the day,” Pierce said laughing.
Before the shootaround Wednesday morning, Pierce said, “No reaction. This is basketball. I’m not going to be dead after the game.”
What was the difference?
“Jeff Green two huge 3-pointers late,” Pierce said. “I just thought it was our execution, the way we moved the ball. Brandon Bass with some huge plays down the stretch. Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett, it has to come collectively, and that’s what you saw tonight. Huge team effort. We settled in on our defense all night long. We were able to contain [Carmelo Anthony], was able to contain most of the guys from having a huge night and it was a huge team win.”
Pierce did acknowledge that he was sporting a sore hip after the Knicks banged him around in Game 5.
“This is a physical series,” Pierce said. “They’re allowing them to bump me and bang me. They’re trying to do everything they can to get to me. But that’s what you have to expect. You have to expect the bumps and bruises in a playoff game.”
Pierce knows the TD Garden crowd will be ready on Friday night for Game 6.
“Our crowd is going to be very emotional,” he said. “This is what they wanted — they wanted another home game. I expect them to be the loudest arena in the world [Friday]. There’s going to be so many emotions. We have to have plans to come back here [to New York] on Sunday.”
He said he isn’t even thinking about it being his last game in Boston.
“It really doesn’t cross my mind,” he said. “It’s like I’m still enjoying the ride. It’s like I’m on a roller coaster with my hands up. I’m not really thinking about the ending. I’m going through the loops and going through the drops and I’m just enjoying it, truthfully. Like a roller coaster, when it ends, they lift up the seat belt.”
|Wednesday shootaround: Kevin Garnett not paying attention to Knicks’ ‘shenanigans’||05.01.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
NEW YORK — No one knows trash talking like Kevin Garnett.
He also knows how to tune it out like no one else, or at least not feed into publicly.
J.R. Smith said there wouldn’t be a Game 5 Wednesday night in New York if he had not been suspended for Game 4, while Kenyon Martin is suggesting black formal wear at Madison Square Garden for the Celtics‘ funeral.
“I have not paid attention to none of the shenanigans,” Garnett said before Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.
Garnett says he knows what it will take to be successful in Game 5 — taking one possession at a time and not getting overwhelmed by New York’s tenacious defense.
“It’s not that hard, to be honest,” Garnett said of the approach. “Taking one possession at a time is something you have to be conscious of, not individually but as a group. Understanding each possession and what it means, the importance of that possession. Small things are what’s going to make this a do-or-die type of game.
“I think it’s more, not for us to [instill] doubt, but it’s important to show some type of barrier, if not willingness, in this whole game. We know we’re playing on the road and we know they play really well here. I think the important thing is not to get down, to come out with some fire and play throughout with that fire.”
Garnett appreciates some of the fire on the Celtics bench in the form of Rajon Rondo. Garnett said he’s been huge in helping Avery Bradley and Terrence Williams while being an extra pair of eyes for him and Paul Pierce in the post.
“More importantly, he’s talking to Avery, T-Will, the guys who play the point guard position, Paul and I about opportunity and being aggressive, giving the coaching staff a perspective. Doe is a very smart guy, very high IQ when it comes to a lot of different things. He’s giving his take on what he sees out there as far as where he’s at. But more importantly being a safety net for Avery right now. Avery goes through periods where it’s difficult. It’s going to happen. We’ve all been young before. Just being like a security blanket for Avery and anyone else who needs it.”
Garnett has 34 rebounds in the last two games. What has been the secret to his success?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t really [put] thought into it, to be honest. A lot of rebounding is timing. Tyson [Chandler] and I, Kenyon and I are down there battling for the ball. It’s not one or two things that go into it, nor would I like to share, but the things that I have been doing are working for me and I’m going to stick with it.
“You don’t have a choice whether you like it or not. It’s whether you adapt or not. If you don’t adapt, you know what end you end up on, and I don’t want to end up on that end.”
Reminded at the Wednesday morning shootaround that he is entering the final year of his current contract next season and could be playing his last game in a Celtics uniform, Pierce was philosophical.
“I’ve always been a guy who says things happen for a reason,” Pierce said. “I was a No. 10 [overall] pick [in 1998]. I did not anticipate that. I just always feel like through my whole career things everything is going to fall into the right place for me. So, I really don’t give much thought until after the season. But I know, at the end of the day, whatever I do, whatever they do, it’s going to fall into the right place for me.”
Pierce is signed through next season for just over $15.3 million but it is not guaranteed. Pierce is aware that the team could trade him in the offseason if the Celtics want to clear space, and if another team acquires him and then dumps the contract.
“I’ve always said that I want to end my career as a Celtic but they are the ones [who decide],” Pierce said. “I have a year contract for next year but it’s not guaranteed so the decision is in their hands. But, whatever they decision they make… Maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it could be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire as a Celtic.
“Right now, it’s just year-by-year. I expect to play another year next year and then evaluate after that.”
Meanwhile, Pierce isn’t worried about what the Knicks are saying either. Reminded that Kenyon Martin suggested black formal wear to Game 5 for the Celtics’ funeral, Pierce responded, “No reaction. It’s basketball. I’m not going to be dead after the game.”