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Celtics notebook

Limiting Garnett has been Philly’s golden ticket

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / May 19, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA - A major part of the 76ers’ recipe for success in Games 2 and 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals has been to limit the offense of the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett.

Garnett had 9 points and 11 rebounds on 3-of-12 shooting in the Celtics’ 92-83 loss Friday night.

“I don’t know, I’m going to have to look at that one and figure it out for myself,’’ coach Doc Rivers said of Garnett’s performance. “I don’t think we ever established him. I thought he was a passer a lot. We’ve to got to get him back in the middle of the paint and being aggressive. So, that’s on us, we’ve got to figure that one out.’’

Take it slow

Rajon Rondo (15 points, 15 assists) struggled with foul trouble and committed four turnovers. In Games 2 and 3, Rondo totaled 27 assists and two turnovers.

“I think they sped us up a little bit, taking a lot of quick shots,’’ Rondo said of the Celtics’ third quarter. “I guess we made some turnovers in that stretch and they made shots.

“I’ve got to do a better job of slowing us down and getting us in our sets, demanding guys get in the right spots and execute offensively. I’ve got to know when we’re not making those shots, to slow it down. But it all comes down to defense.’’

It’s on him

Rivers took the blame for the Celtics’ collapse.

“We just lost our composure, we stopped running our stuff,’’ he said. “Whenever that happens, I think that’s me. I always think there’s something the coach could do to slow them down, to get them back in their rhythm, and I couldn’t do it.

“So, to me, I always think that’s my fault. I see it, just like you see it. But sometimes they don’t see it on the floor. I always think I somehow have to get them to see it so we can get back to it.

“They [the Sixers] did make some shots down the stretch, but their confidence was sky high at that point. But they got second shots, they got loose balls, and they forced turnovers. So they got out on the break and they got easy baskets. And they got to the foul line. So, to me, that’s what allowed them to score. A lot of them were turnovers. When you have a team struggling to score you should never turn the ball over and, clearly, you shouldn’t foul them.”

Confined space

Ray Allen continued to struggle to find space, going 2 for 6 in 31 minutes. He had only one field goal attempt in Game 3, a low in his playoff career.

“I think about what I’ve been able to do in this league over the course of my career,’’ Allen said before Game 4. “To be able to be regarded as one of the greatest shooters of all time, now it’s at a point where it hurts me because no one wants me to take a shot. I appreciate that respect from opponents, players, coaches - fans always wonder how I got open.’’

Allen became a glorified - and effective - decoy as the Celtics won, 107-91, Wednesday night.

“To be able to use that in a game, in a playoff situation, is a huge weapon,’’ Allen said. “I’m always ready to take the shot and make the shot. But I know being out there does change the complexity of how teams play defense.

“It helps with cutting, pick-and-roll coverages. There’s a lot of things we have to do to help this team win.

“It can be frustrating because you want to get in and you want to get involved. But the ultimate objective here is for us to win games and move on.’’

No off switch

Rivers gave the team Thursday off, but he said the veterans worked out.

“When we don’t practice, guys still work on their games,’’ Rivers said.

“Kevin [Garnett] was over here shooting. Especially the veterans, more than the young guys, understand what they need to do to keep in rhythm. Young guys don’t understand what gets them in rhythm.

“Ray is running somewhere, on the street, he’s on a bike. Paul [Pierce] was on the treadmill at the hotel. Kevin is a creature of habit, he reminds me of Patrick Ewing. Days off were bad for him even though he needed them.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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