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Celtics Notebook

This giving got to them in end

Nine first-quarter turnovers were key

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / April 26, 2010

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MIAMI — At one point in yesterday’s Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Heat, the Celtics were averaging a turnover a minute.

Kevin Garnett threw one away. Rajon Rondo was whistled for traveling on a jab step. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen both had passes get away from them. Then Garnett was whistled for steps.

Five minutes, five turnovers.

The Celtics ended up with nine giveaways in the first quarter of what ended up a 101-92 loss.

They were trying to put the Heat away, but Miami feasted on the extra possessions, running its early lead as high as 18 points.

“I thought we took our eyes off the process to start the game,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “I told our guys that.

“I felt like we came in the game thinking let’s throw some haymakers at them — quick shots and threes and no ball movement. We were thinking of ending the series instead of thinking about playing basketball first.’’

The Celtics had won the first three games despite turning the ball over 41 times. Yesterday, coughing up the ball haunted them.

“They got 28 points off turnovers and it’s hard to beat a team with that,’’ said Tony Allen. “A lot of the turnovers were lackadaisical. Guys were either too anxious or a bit nonchalant. They all ended up being turnovers. We just have to be better at the end of the day.’’

Longer road
The Celtics hadn’t put a team away in four games in 24 years, but lost that opportunity.

“It’s not a big deal,’’ Rondo said. “Hopefully we can get it done in five now. We’re going home, we’re confident. And we’ll try to get another win [tomorrow].’’

The past two postseasons, the Celtics have stretched their series to six and seven games. Rivers said he wasn’t interested in how many games it took to polish off a foe.

“I want to get to four first,’’ Rivers said. “Obviously, you would have loved to have gotten it over with, but we haven’t. They’re still fighting to win it, too.

“I don’t focus on that. I focus on winning this series, and if it takes four, five, six, seven, whatever it takes, we’ve got to win the series.’’

A minutes man
Garnett’s 37 minutes were not only the most he’s played all postseason, but his highest total of the season. Recovering from the knee injury that ended his 2008-09 campaign, Garnett’s minutes were capped at 35 this regular season.

“We extended Kevin’s minutes, we had to,’’ Rivers said. “I had to sub him for that little stretch, and it hurt us.’’

Garnett was on the bench to start the fourth quarter, the Celtics leading, 77-71, and returned with 9:13 remaining, by which time the Heat were ahead, 85-80.

Garnett went 9 of 13 from the floor, posting an 18-point, 12-rebound outing, but he missed his only free throws of the day with the Celtics trailing, 98-92, at the 1:11 mark. He also had three of Boston’s 16 turnovers.

“It was very uncharacteristic of us to have that many turnovers,’’ Garnett said. “I thought as of late we’ve been playing very solid basketball. We had our chances. We were down and I thought we did a good job of fighting back, then all of a sudden things that we [did] very, very well we were terrible at.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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