|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:
|Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘can’t win without Rajon Rondo’||04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET|
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.”
For the second straight game, the Celtics established a playoff franchise record for fewest points in a half when they scored just 23 in the second half of Tuesday’s 87-71 loss to the Knicks.
“We are who we are,” Rivers said when asked about the effect of not having Rajon Rondo available. “We can’t apologize for that. That is who we have been left with and I think it is good enough to win. So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots. We can play better and we have to play better.”
The Celtics led 48-42 at the half. But Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes early in the third quarter, part of a 29-6 New York run that put the Knicks in complete control. The Celtics were outscored 32-11 and converted just 4-of-17 shots from the floor in posting another abysmal third-quarter performance.
“They attacked us,” Rivers said. “We didn’t handle it very well. We have to be able to do better. I don’t know what we are doing wrong in the beginning of third quarters but we gave up those two back-to-back threes, which helped their confidence. It was a tale of two halves.”
Paul Pierce led the way with 18 points but came out with four minutes left as the Celtics conceded.
“He needs some help,” Rivers said. “I think Paul was playing pretty well. He started getting tired in the second half because he tried to do everything.”
|Doc Rivers: ‘Emotionally, it could go either way’||04.20.13 at 2:47 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Doc Rivers admitted before Game 1 Saturday that his team didn’t have the best of practices on Friday at Columbia University, on the eve of the team’s first postseason game this year.
He also was very understanding of the players wanting to follow the events going on 200 miles away in Boston.
“[Friday] was a strange day,” Rivers said. “You’re going to practice and you hear guys on the phone and literally everyone is calling home, yelling or you could hear them saying, ‘Stay in the house!’ And we’re going to practice and I even told our staff, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes in practice today. There’s no way their focus is where it should be. And you felt that going into practice. And, honestly, we were right, practice played out that way.
“So I don’t know. Thank gosh it’s over, in that regards. It was good to see everybody in the city happy, hugging and rejoicing. And I’m sure our players had a chance to exhale, because their families are still back there. [Rajon Rondo] was supposed to join us yesterday, and he couldn’t even get out. He was locked in and had to stay in himself. What does that do for us today, I have no idea? I think, emotionally, it could go either way.”
Rivers and his staff are ready to handle the situation, good or bad, during the course of the game.
“Hopefully we can figure out a way, if it’s not going the right way, to gather them right and get it back,” Rivers said. “Thank gosh it’s a four-quarter game because I’m always worried about any team, even if it wasn’t for this, being too emotionally high at the beginning of a game. Because you still have to finish the game. We’ll see.”
Speaking of Rondo, after being locked down on Friday, the injured point guard made his way down to the Big Apple on Saturday and is with the team for the start of the playoffs. Rivers definitely likes him around the team.
“I want him around,” Rivers said. “He’s a good mind. He’s a great, great mind. And he knows the game. He’s a smart kid. People have no idea his IQ, they really don’t. It’s funny right now, even after our shootaround, he’s into it.”
With Pablo Prigioni [sprained ankle] is out for the Knicks, Chris Copeland moves into the staring lineup. The Knicks will go with a starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert, to go along with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
|Rajon Rondo returns to the parquet||04.03.13 at 7:30 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo surprised some by returning to Celtics shootaround just a month and a half after ACL surgery on his right knee in February. Rondo did some light shooting and tested the right knee and a light shootaround before the Celtics game with the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden. Rondo is still expected to miss the rest of the season.
“It was great just having him around [at Wednesday's shootaround],” coach Doc Rivers said. “He put his brace on and he just watched shootaround, but then he walked out — or limped out — on the floor and did whatever he did. But it’s just good just having him around. It’s good for him, too, probably.”
Rivers was asked – jokingly – if Rondo can dunk yet.
“Not yet. It’s coming. That’s next,” Rivers said.
Rondo tore his ACL on Jan. 25 in Atlanta and then had surgery in February and spent the the first part of his rehab with Dr. James Andrews in the Jacksonville area. Rondo returned to his Boston area home last week and has been spending time with the team ever since, attending a Celtics-Hawks game last Friday for the first time since the surgery. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he and the team are hopeful to have Rondo ready for the start of training camp in September.
Rondo also had some fun with two members of the Harlem Globetrotters in town for an exhibition. Thanks to the folks at CLNS Radio, here’s a sample of that.
Pierce, who missed just his second game of the season on Monday night due to personal reasons, is officially listed by the team as a “game-time decision” for tonight’s game against the Pistons. Pierce was spotted with an ice wrap on his right foot in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in New York but the team said at the time it was simply maintenance and not a serious injury.
Garnett, who has missed the last six games with inflammation in his left foot, was not at Wednesday morning’s shootaround. Boston is just 2-4 in those six games.
Without the two stars, the Celtics (38-36) fell to the Timberwolves on Monday night in Minnesota. As a group, Celtics starters have struggled badly in their last two games. In a loss to the Knicks Sunday night, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradey and Chris Wilcox each scored two points. On Monday, Bradley led the way with 19 points but as a unit, the starters scored just 46 points in the 110-100 loss to the Wolves.
Tonight, the Celtics host the Detroit Pistons (25-50) at the Garden (7:30 p.m. tipoff). Despite their woeful record, the Pistons have beaten the Celtics in both previous meetings, scoring 103 points each time while shooting 50 percent from the field in each game. Detroit beat the Celtics 103-88 on Jan. 20 and 103-83 on Nov. 18.
Pierce leads Boston this season, scoring 18.8 points per game and has been the top assist man since Rajon Rondo went down on Jan. 25.
|Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘They say he’s doing tremendous’||03.29.13 at 11:39 pm ET|
The Celtics got an added boost on their bench for Friday’s showdown with the Hawks.
Rajon Rondo made his first appearance on the sidelines with the team since having season-ending ACL surgery on his right knee.
‘It was nice. It was nice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He told us today he was coming in, and it was good to have him back around. He’s moving okay. You know, it’s funny, I’m looking at it knowing he’s nowhere near, but that’s the first thing you look at. Having gone through that experience, we sat and talked about a lot of the stuff you have to go through. So, it brought back these horrendous memories, actually. But he’s, from his doctors, they say he’s doing tremendous.’
Rivers was asked to describe Rondo’s spirits while on the sidelines.
‘Oh, I don’t know, I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I mean, I don’t care who you are, especially if you’re on a team sport I think these types of injuries are very lonely. Very hard, because rehab is all by yourself with some stranger. And you’re away from your team. Just brutal rehab. That’s what it is. He’s been in ‘ wherever, Jacksonville, wherever, Florida, Pensacola ‘ and that’s tough. His family has been going back and forth. But he’s made the commitment and he’s been great.’
Asked if Rondo tried to exert himself in the huddle, Rivers laughed, “No, no, no. I told him to be nice. And he was.”
The players were the most affected – and inspired – by Rondo’s presence.
‘Definitely,” Paul Pierce said. “It’s good to get him around the guys, to see some of his new teammates. Who knows ‘ a lot of these guys might be here for him next year. It’s good for him to get acquainted with them. He’s done his surgery, he seems to be in good spirits, so its good to see him.’
“It was fun. It was good to see him. He’s got a little fro now,” Jeff Green laughed. “It was good to Rondo, glad he’s doing well. Wish he were on the court but I think it was a big emotional boost for us to have him on the bench with us.”
How big of a boost was it to the players?
“It’s big,” Green said. “I think a lot of people counted us out when he went down, when Sully [Jared Sullinger] went down, too. But we’ve been coming together, doing our part, playing hard. We’ve been talking and he’s been seeing things from a different point of view.
“Definitely, most definitely,” Green added. “He sees us playing hard and that’s all you can do.”
Since Rondo had his ACL repaired on February 12, the Celtics have added several new players, including Shav Randolph, DJ Williams, Jordan Crawford (at the trade deadline) and Terrence Williams.