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J.R. Smith on Jason Terry: "Who?"

Posted by Amalie Benjamin April 30, 2013 03:00 PM


GREENBURGH, N.Y. – There has been a lot of talk around Knicks camp about J.R. Smith's maturity, about how he has moved beyond some of the issues he had earlier in his career. At least that was the narrative when Smith won the NBA's Sixth Man Award eight days ago.

That talk changed in the wake of Smith's suspension for Game 4 of this first-round series, a game the Celtics won Sunday to extend the series. Smith was suspended for elbowing Jason Terry in Game 3, and his maturity again was questioned.

Then there was this exchange with reporters Tuesday after Knicks practice.

Smith was asked about the Game 4 performance of Terry (18 points, including 9 in overtime). His response?

“Who?” Smith said. “I don’t even know who that is.”

It didn’t stop there.

Asked another question about Terry, Smith kept up the charade.

“Who?” he said again. “Who is that?”

And so, with the Knicks up, 3-1, in the series, there has been another shot of adrenaline for Boston, courtesy of a player who seems completely confident in his own abilities and his own effect on the series.

Asked what would have happened had he been on the court for Game 4, Smith said, “Oh, yeah. It would have been over. I would have been playing golf today.”

Tuesday's Celtics-Knicks watch: Mental focus the key

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 30, 2013 11:50 AM

WALTHAM -- Down 3-1 in the series with an elimination game against the Knicks looming Wednesday night, mental focus was the key topic before the Celtics took the practice court Tuesday.

"What's the difference between being down 0-3 and being in a Game 7?" Celtics coach Doc Rivers asked. "There's no difference. It's an elimination game. In Game 7 you're thinking let's win it to win it. When you're down 0-3, you never know, you may have a couple guys making vacation plans not thinking you can do it. So it's all about the mindset."

Celtics players talked as if the series was still within their grasp.

"We're still confident, we're still riding high from last game," said Jeff Green. "So hopefully we can take that into the game tomorrow and continue to play the way we did."

Said Celtics guard Jason Terry, "I don't want to go home right now. I feel like we've got a lot of basketball left with this particular group."

Terry has reason to feel good after scoring nine points in overtime of Game 4. The Celtics, on the other hand, have some reasons to be worried about their chances in Game 5. Carmelo Anthony was 10 of 35 from the field in Game 4, sharpshooter J.R. Smith sat out due to suspension, and the Knicks still took the game to overtime. Rivers said his team needed to get into attack mode early, limit offensive rebounds, and also do better against New York's trapping defense.

"I just wish we did a better job of taking advantage of it when they do trap," said Rivers. "That's where I would say I am the most disappointed with us offensively. We work on it every day, and we really haven't taken advantage of their traps. ... All year we've done a great job of really attacking traps to the point where teams stopped trapping us. Honestly [this series] I don't think we've made the right decisions."

Today's schedule: The Celtics practiced Tuesday morning in Waltham before flying to New York. The Knicks practiced in Westchester.

Stat of the day: Not about the Celtics or Knicks, but staggering nonetheless:

Useful Twitter follow: Celtics Blog, one of the best team blogs around.

Quote of the day: Jeff Green, on going back to New York:

"It's going to be very difficult with their fans behind them, but we can't think about that too much," said Green. "They don't impact the game, we do."

View from behind enemy lines: From the New York Times: Knicks hit a bump on their road to the next round.

Series news: Knicks guard Jason Kidd won the NBA's sportsmanship award for the second straight season. One tidbit on that note: Before the series started, Kidd ran over to Celtics GM Danny Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck to shake their hands and wish them luck.

Have something to say about the series? Leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter.

Celtics show support for Jason Collins

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 30, 2013 11:32 AM

WALTHAM – Celtics players and coach Doc Rivers spoke in support of Jason Collins Tuesday after Collins revealed in Sports Illustrated on Monday that he was gay. Rivers said Collins called him a few days ago to share the news with his former coach.

"We had talked about it recently," said Rivers. "When he called me to tell me, you could tell he wanted to tell me. I told him before he said it, 'Jason I could care less about what you're about to tell me.' And that's how I feel. I honestly feel that way.

"It's a non-factor to me, and I know it is a factor to a lot of people. I've never understood why anyone cares what someone else does. And I told Jason that it will be a non-issue eventually, but it will not be right now."

Rivers said Collins, who played in 32 games for the Celtics this season before being traded to Washington for guard Jordan Crawford, was a good locker room presence. Rivers joked that he wished Collins could have gotten a few more rebounds while he was here. He left the door open to Collins returning to Boston next season.

Celtics players expressed support for their former teammate and surprise at the news.

"I was happy for him," said Celtics forward Jeff Green. "He's a good friend of mine. He's a good teammate."

Green said the veteran Collins played a mentor role, showing him how to conduct himself. Green said he had not considered the possibility of having a gay teammate.

"It never crossed my mind, but I'm not against it. We all are here for the same reason, that's to win. No matter if you're gay or straight, we're here to play basketball."

Green said he'd welcome Collins back on the Celtics next season.

"He was an awesome teammate," said Green. "He played the game hard. He set good screens and got me open, so that's all you can ask for."

Jason Terry took it a step further, saying that Collins could have helped this season. The Celtics had originally tried to send Chris Wilcox to Washington instead of Collins, but Collins was eventually the one traded.

"We'd like to have [Collins] in this series," said Terry. "He's one of the toughest guys in the NBA."

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett also pledged their support for Collins Tuesday. Pierce said Collins called him Monday just before the announcement.

Celtics-Knicks Game 5 set for 7 p.m.

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 30, 2013 09:01 AM

The NBA has set its schedule for Wednesday night's games, and the Celtics and Knicks will kick off a tripleheader starting at 7 p.m. The Hawks and Pacers will follow at 8 p.m., and Rockets-Thunder will be the nightcap at 10:30 p.m.

Kenyon Martin tells Knicks to prepare for a funeral

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 29, 2013 10:41 AM

Knicks power forward Kenyon Martin cranked up the trash talk following his team's 97-90 overtime loss to the Celtics Sunday afternoon. Martin took issue with some comments by Celtics guard Jason Terry before the game.

“The guy was mouthing off before the game,” Martin told the New York Daily News. “He told me, ‘You’re not dancing at my funeral today.’’’

Martin turned Terry's comments around after the game.

"We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin said, telling his teammates to, “Wear black. Funeral colors.’’

Monday's Celtics-Knicks watch

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 29, 2013 09:23 AM

Today's focus: What on earth were the Knicks doing in the first half Sunday? More specifically, what was going through coach Mike Woodson's head when he decided to stop trapping Avery Bradley and stop double-teaming Paul Pierce and Jeff Green on every catch? That defensive strategy worked to perfection in the first three games, holding the Celtics under 80 points in each and forcing them into 48 total turnovers. Why mess with what was working?

Pierce wasn't sure why the Knicks changed their strategy.

"Yeah it was sort of surprising," said Pierce. "Usually they get the ball out of my hands a bit earlier."

Pierce scored 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting with one turnover without being trapped in the first half. When the Knicks trapped after halftime, Pierce went 3 for 11 and committed five turnovers. The strategy worked. It's amazing the Knicks went away from it, even for a little while.

Today's schedule: Neither the Celtics or Knicks practice today. The Celtics will practice Tuesday morning in Waltham before flying to New York.

Stat of the day: In the first four games of the series Avery Bradley has 7 assists and 9 turnovers.

Useful Twitter follow: National Post (Canada) sports columnist. Arthur tweets about every sport, but he does so brilliantly. His own musings can be hilarious, and his re-tweets are informative.

View from behind enemy lines: From the New York Post: Melo's shooting sinks the Knicks.

Series news: J.R. Smith will be back on the court for the Knicks in Game 5 after serving his one-game suspension Sunday.

Have something to say about the series? Leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter.

Celtics display veteran pride in win vs. Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 28, 2013 08:12 PM

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Pride and stubbornness can be hard to parse. You can see both on display when Kevin Garnett answers questions from the media, the disdain visible in his curling brow. Asked Sunday about the mentality of coming into the game down 3-0, Garnett feigns as if he doesn't understand the question. Asked again if facing elimination was a factor in his team's 97-90 win over the Knicks in Game 4, Garnett simply replies, "No."

The Celtics have rarely been more prideful or stubborn than they were Sunday at TD Garden. They had every reason to pack it in, having failed to reach 80 points in each of the first three games of the series. Sunday, the Garden was half-full by tip-off, and early in the game, the cheers of Knicks fans dressed in orange-and-blue matched those for the home team. No NBA team has ever faced a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series and come back to win.

Given the odds, you could have excused the Celtics for wanting to jet off to the Caribbean a few days early, but instead they came out firing on all cylinders. Paul Pierce knocked down big shots, and Brandon Bass flustered Carmelo Anthony into bad ones. The Celtics held the Knicks to 17 points in the first quarter and built a 19-point halftime lead. There was life in the building.

Then, just as quickly as it had come, the Celtics watched a 20-point third-quarter lead evaporate as Garnett and Jeff Green picked up their fourth fouls and Bass picked up his fifth.

"The third quarter for us, with the fouls, it was hard," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I mean, we were shuffling guys in and out. I was just trying to tell them we had a three-point lead, and let’s keep playing. Let's play through the game."

The Celtics kept playing, but so did the Knicks, who took their first lead on a Raymond Felton jumper with 1:18 left in the fourth. Bass had fouled out. Pierce looked gassed. For the first time this series, we had a game in the second half. And yet the Celtics continued to fight through the fourth quarter, forcing overtime and then winning there as the much-maligned Jason Terry put up nine points in the extra frame.

“We wanted to survive," said Garnett. "This is the position we put ourselves in. To continue to play we’ve got to continue to win."

The Celtics scored just 31 points in the first half of Game 3 Friday night and were booed off the court at the break; too few fans stuck around to boo them off the court after the final buzzer.

Given a second chance to stave off elimination, the Celtics displayed the mental toughness Sunday that has made them such a tough opponent over the last few seasons. They were hardly mistake-free, committing six turnovers in the first quarter, but they fought through the errors and kept up their defense. Led by Pierce's example, the Celtics built a 54-35 halftime lead. Pierce continued to struggle with turnovers, committing five or more for the fourth consecutive game, but the Celtics veteran never stopped being aggressive or wanting the ball. He led the Celtics with 29 points

"There was a lot of pride," said Pierce. "Us as the captains of the team, we gotta instill it in these guys."

One player who has inserted himself into a leadership position this season is Terry, who had 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting after scoring 23 points combined in the first three games. He hasn't been reliable, but afterward Knicks guard Jason Kidd said of Terry, "He's a fighter. He's not going to give up, I've seen it up close."

Said Terry, "When your leaders are KG, Pierce, and myself, we have too much pride. Getting swept is something that no man that’s been in this league that long wants to do."

Terry was at his best Sunday after taking a flagrant elbow from New York's J.R. Smith in Game 3. That foul no doubt inspired Terry, who took several opportunities to ham it up to the crowd after making big baskets. Starting with Smith, the Knicks did their part to make the Celtics a prideful team again. New York looked stagnant on offense for large chunks of the game without Smith. Knicks coach Mike Woodson inexplicably went away from double-teaming Pierce and Green on every catch, and it hurt them in the first half as the Celtics built their lead. Better ball pressure might have prevented New York from being down so much in the first place.

Still, the Celtics deserve credit for refusing to fold. Despite Sunday's loss, the Knicks have shown that they're the better basketball team. They've got more room for error in each game. The Celtics are relying on their pride, their refusal to quit. After the game, Pierce and Garnett were both asked if they had given any thought to their uncertain futures in Boston. Pierce said he hadn't thought about it because he hadn't thought about losing Game 4. Before the game, in fact, Pierce said he had called some friends in New York to make plans for dinner. It was the kind of stubborn, prideful answer we've come to expect.

Celtics, Knicks react to Boston's win in Game 4

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 28, 2013 05:12 PM

Rapid reaction from TD Garden as a basketball arena disappears and a hockey arena is set up around us ...

-- Celtics coach Doc Rivers called forward Brandon Bass "the star of the game" for his defense on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. Bass limited Anthony to 10-of-35 shooting before fouling out.

"He just defended, and he did it over and over and over again," said Rivers. "There are a lot of guys you want to defend; I don't know if Carmelo would be the one you would pick."

Bass had four points and four rebounds, but Anthony seemed to struggle the most with the larger Bass on him. Bass said defending LeBron James, which he did during last year's playoffs, is nothing like defending Anthony.

"They're totally different," said Bass. "They're both tough covers, but they're different."

On his ability to guard smaller players with some success, Bass said, "Earlier in the season we did a lot of pick-and-rolls that had me switching on the guards. Doc saw I could move my feet so he said, 'Why not?'"

Bass has not always been known as a good defensive player, but it's a label he said he's working toward. Past criticism of his defense has motivated him.

"I thought [the criticism] was because everybody else was so good defensively, and I was the new guy," he said. "You've got to take some criticism. That's how you continue to move forward."

-- Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he was OK taking one of two games in Boston:

"I feel good about being able to come in here and get one game," said Woodson. "It would have been nice to close out today, but that's a tough team, a competitive team in that locker room."

-- Kenyon Martin on missing J.R. Smith:

"We missed him of course. We're missing 18 points off the bench, sometimes it will affect you. But other guys stepped up and made plays. We just didn't get it done tonight, but we've got nothing to hold our head about."

-- Kevin Garnett on the difference between this game and the previous three:

"Versus talking, we just came out and did it. This is it. We were down 3-0. What else is there to say?"

Rondo says Celtics troubles are tough to watch

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 28, 2013 12:12 PM

Rajon Rondo was draining 3-pointers from the baseline before Sunday's Game 4 between the Celtics and Knicks. He looked as if he could play, but that nasty surgical scar on his right knee is an indication that he is months away from returning.

As close as he can get to game action is dressing in warmups and taking jumpers before games. Because of his torn right anterior cruciate ligament, Rondo cannot run. He can only watch the Celtics struggle mightily against the Knicks, trailing three games to none in the best-of-seven series.

Rondo is expected to return sometime early next season but his rehabilitation is in the early stages after tearing the ACL on Jan. 25 at Atlanta.

"I like to compete, I want to play but I'm fine where I'm at right now," he said before Game 4. "I'm just trying to support my teammates. That's all I can do and that's what I am going to do. I've been watching for four months now, it's hard sitting on the sideline watching. Can't do anything about it."

No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit and the Celtics may make some major offseason changes after a disappointing year. When asked if the Celtics could compete with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and some roster additions along with a healthy Rondo, he said: "I would say so. It's a long ways away, a lot of things can change this summer. I'm just focused on getting healthy, that's about it."

Rondo said it's difficult to watch, especially during the postseason. Rondo has thrived during Celtics postseason runs, including 44 points in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals at Miami last season.

"That's what it's about, it's about stepping up to the plate, when the lights come on that's when you see what you're made of," he said. "I love the spotlight. I love the pressure situations and what other situation is better than the playoffs."

Rondo underwent surgery on Feb. 13 and said it's a six- to 12-month window to return.

"Every ACL surgery they say you can start running in about four to six months (after surgery)," he said. "I think that's when I'll start running. That's in the textbook of ACL rehab. I don't know how long training camp is far from my surgery. I get in between six to 12 months."

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose has yet to return to action approximately a year after tearing his ACL during last year's NBA playoffs.

"Everybody's different," Rondo said. "I can walk. I should be walking by now and I can walk. I can't jump. I can't run but I'm walking so for me that's on schedule."

Game 4: Knicks at Celtics preview

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 28, 2013 09:54 AM

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It's a gorgeous Sunday morning in Boston's West End. Unobstructed sunshine and blooming trees providing an odd juxtaposition to the 0-3 hole the Celtics find themselves in prior to their matinee with the New York Knicks here at TD Garden. Early during the 9 o'clock hour D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph went hard through warm-ups while the Celtics dancers, dressed in their Sunday-best whites, took dozens of team photos. This could be the dance team's final game for 2012-13. The Celtics are hoping to at least extend the series back to New York for Game 5.

The Knicks didn't practice Saturday, and who could fault them? They've yet to make a single adjustment in the series because the game plan they established in Game 1 has worked out just fine: double-team Paul Pierce and Jeff Green, deny Kevin Garnett, and let anyone else try to beat them. To this point no one has. Knicks guard J.R. Smith threw an unnecessary wrench into his team's plans with an elbow to Jason Terry in Game 3. Smith is suspended for Game 4, which gives the Celtics a glimmer of hope.

Here are the details for this afternoon's game:

Tipoff: 1 p.m.
Series: New York leads the best-of-seven series, 3-0
Broadcast info:Television: ABC; Radio: WEEI (93.7 FM)
Officials: Bill Kennedy, Scott Foster, and Derrick Collins.

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Avery Bradley SG: Paul Pierce SF: Jeff Green PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Knicks: PG: Raymond Felton SG: Pablo Prigioni SF: Iman Shumpert PF: Carmelo Anthony C: Tyson Chandler

Storylines:
Where will the offense come from?: Same first key from the last game. How on earth are the Celtics going to score enough points vs. the Knicks? They've yet to top 80 points. Smith's absence should help the defense, but he's not exactly a defensive juggernaut on the other end. If anything this gives Jason Kidd more run for the Knicks, and Kidd has given Pierce and company heck on D.

Doc's lineups: Does Doc Rivers have any more room to tinker with his lineups? Randolph playing for 30 minutes? Terrence Williams in a starting role? Terry started in Game 3 and the Celtics got off to their worst start, so that doesn't look like the solution.

Pride: We know Pierce and Garnett are prideful – Garnett played out of his mind Friday night in the loss – but the rest of the Celtics haven't been tested in the same way. Pierce talked after Game 3 about his teammates hanging their heads. If the Celtics get down early, will they have any fight in them?

@GlobeGaryDzen

Knicks J.R. Smith suspended for Game 4 vs. Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 27, 2013 09:15 PM

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The Celtics may have gotten a break in their quest to salvage at least a game of this Eastern Conference first-round series against the New York Knicks as the NBA announced at 9 p.m. (ET) that J.R. Smith (pictured on right) was suspended for Game 4 for his flagrant foul against Jason Terry with 7:06 left in the Knicks' 90-76 win over the Celtics.

Smith was immediately ejected and the league ruled his elbow was heinous enough to warrant a suspension.

"I was trying to draw the foul," Smith said after the game. "He reached in one time, I thought he was gonna reach in a second time and I was gonna try to get a quick shot off, but they made a call that the refs saw, and theres not really much I can do about it."

When asked if the call was correct, Smith said: "I don't really know, I'm not really the judge of that. I'm gonna let them do what they do. I really try to stay away from getting into it with the officials, so I gotta keep my head. That was a bad basketball play on my behalf, just cause I got kicked out of the game and my team needed me. Just gotta get ready to play Sunday."

Smith is the Knicks' second-leading scorer in the series, averaging 16.3 points and shooting 43.5 percent in the series. He has been a critical part of the Knicks first three victories.

Frustrated Celtics hope to channel their anger heading into Game 4

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 27, 2013 01:19 PM

WALTHAM -- The locker room was quiet Friday night, Avery Bradley said.

"Everybody was real mad yesterday," the Celtics guard said before the team watched film of their Game 3 loss to the New York Knicks. "Nobody was saying anything."

There wasn't much to say. The Celtics embarrassed themselves and now sit in a 3-0 hole in the Eastern Conference first-round best-of-seven series -- a deficit from which no NBA team has ever recovered.

But the Celtics will try to, as the cliche goes, take it one game at a time beginning Sunday with Game 4 at TD Garden.

"They haven't won anything yet," Jeff Green said. "They've just won three games. The objective is to win four. So, we still have a chance to do that."

The Celtics' offense has been non-existent, as the team has scored fewer than 80 points in each of their three losses to the Knicks.

"I mean, something's gotta break," Jason Terry said. "I mean, you're not going to continue to just score 70 points every game. That's just crazy. I've played youth basketball, AAU, I mean, I've never scored this least amount of points."

Terry said "no comment" when asked about the elbow Knicks guard J.R. Smith threw that connected with Terry's face late in Game 3, earning Smith a Flagrant-2 foul and, thus, an ejection.

Terry did say he would be motivated by that elbow.

Said Doc Rivers: "Well, he should be, he’s the one who got hit. [Shoot], I’d be mad, too."

It has often been the case this season since Rajon Rondo went down that several Celtics have tried too hard to help the team win, forgoing team basketball along the way.

"It’s really important," Rivers said. "That may be the challenge for me tomorrow more than anything, because we do have the Jason Terrys on our team that want to win so bad that they may go into a game like, ‘I’m going to win this game tomorrow!’ Yeah, but it better be ‘we’ are going to win this game. That’s important, but it’s hard."

On that same subject, Rivers also said, "Offensively, we broke down on sets that we work on everyday. And so as a coach, you just keep pushing them to do it right. And it’s hard. Sometimes their pride is what gets in the way. Every single guy wants to win. They want to win so bad, they become an individual. I thought last night there was some of that as well."

But the Celtics definitely seem to be motivated by the show-boating that the Knicks were doing late in the game -- pointing at the crowd after big dunks, laughing, etc.

"Yeah, we did (sense it)," Bradley said. "That’s what made us so mad, so angry. We’ve just got to go out there and play the right way. We’ve got to not let that happen again."

"There was showboating going on out there a little bit, which I don't care for," Terry said.

"But, again, they have every right to do so. You're up 3-0. There's no pressure on them. They can pretty much come out here tomorrow and just show up and they think they've got it won."

The idea of being down 3-0 is a tough pill for the Celtics to swallow.

"It’s just frustrating that we’re down three (games)," Bradley said. "It’s just hard man. Three losses in a row. That’s just tough."

But that's where the Celtics stand, with Sunday's game possibly being their last this season.

"What we have to do," Green said, "is treat this game like it's the last game of everybody's career."

Like rest of his career, nothing easy for Paul Pierce vs. Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 27, 2013 01:26 AM

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Paul Pierce has never done easy. Not in playing for losing teams in six of his first nine NBA seasons. Not in surviving insults real (stabbing) and perceived ("wheelchair"). Not in the delayed, crooked way he's gotten himself free for drives and jumpers while amassing the second-most points in Celtics history.

Pierce has never taken the easy route, which is why his performance vs. the Knicks in the first round of this year's playoffs is fitting in a way. Led by Pierce the last few seasons, the Celtics have experienced success only matched in previous eras. Led by Pierce this season, the Celtics are quickly bringing their most recent run of success to a catastrophic close.

Just catching the ball wasn't easy for Pierce Friday night, not with two and three Knicks players slapping it from his hands. Jason Kidd, the NBA's only 40-year-old free safety, made it his mission to harass Pierce whenever possible. The strategy worked. Pierce was 6 of 15 from the field, 0 for 4 from three-point range in the 90-76 loss. He matched five assists with five turnovers. For the series, Pierce is now 20 for 49 (41 percent) from the floor with 18 assists and 16 turnovers. Pierce took a long time to address the media Friday night, spending almost an hour after the game talking behind closed doors to Kevin Garnett and the injured Rajon Rondo. Asked to characterize some specific reasons for his team's struggles, Pierce offered some veteran cliches.

"We're definitely frustrated," said Pierce. "We feel like we got a lot of good looks tonight, they just didn't fall. That's the way the ball bounces for you.. It is what it is. Can't do nothing about it until Sunday."

Anyone who's watched the first three games closely knows there's nothing about the bounce of the ball that's going to propel the Celtics to a better showing. Boston has been overmatched in three games, failing to reach 80 points in each. Pierce has been overwhelmed. You can see it in his body language after coughing up yet another entry pass. Early in the first quarter of Game 3, Knicks forward Iman Shumpert drove on Pierce and then pulled back out, sending Pierce sliding 10 feet across the floor. During the second half of Game 1, Pierce was so off his game that he sent a shot from the baseline sailing two feet past the rim, smacking an unsuspecting J.R. Smith in the face.

Pierce the player is rarely pretty, but he's usually confident. The Knicks haven't allowed him to be methodical or brash. They've taken away his swagger.

"It was tough," said Pierce. "You try to make a run and then they make a big three. Then you miss wide-open shots or miss a layup and they make a tough basket. You get yourself in those situations and it gets tough. You look at each other, you look down. Some guys lose their confidence in what we're trying to do."

Pierce has been at the center of what the Celtics have been trying to do for a long time, but he's not going to have that role for much longer. In an ideal world, he'd be the wily veteran vs. the Knicks, playing a supporting role to a blossoming Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, and Jared Sullinger. Ideally he wouldn't have to do so much. Knicks coach Mike Woodson has done a brilliant job double-teaming Pierce the second he touches the ball and forcing him to give it up. The Knicks are daring someone else to beat them, and the Celtics don't have anyone who can.

Getting swept by the Knicks could add to Pierce's already complex legacy. He's the second-most prolific scorer in Celtics history to John Havlicek (Bob Ryan has been saying for five years that Pierce is the franchise's best scorer ever), but Pierce continues to be underappreciated among Boston legends. For a long time he didn't win. When he finally did win, he had help. He's writing one of his final chapters with some of his worst basketball. He hopes to make a sour ending a little easier to swallow with a win Sunday.

"It's definitely a difficult situation," said Pierce. "We definitely have our backs against the wall, but we've got to continue to fight, figure out a way how to get out of this rut.
But you've got to stick with it and understand that winning's not easy. It's going to be difficult. The playoffs are hard to win in, and we've got to figure out a way to grind through."

J.R. Smith hit with flagrant 2

Posted by Amalie Benjamin April 27, 2013 12:05 AM

With 7:06 left to go in the fourth quarter, J.R. Smith was called for a flagrant 2 foul when his right elbow caught Jason Terry square in the face. That meant an automatic ejection for Smith, and it could have repercussions for Game 4 on Sunday as the Knicks try to close the Celtics out.

Terry had to be restrained by teammates.

“I was trying to draw the foul,” Smith said in the locker room after the game. “He reached in one time. I thought he was gonna reach in again a second time. I was gonna try to get a quick shot off, but they made a call that the refs saw. Not really much I could do about it.”

Both Smith and coach Mike Woodson insisted the elbow was not intentional.

“He’ll learn from it,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “I don’t think he was trying to hurt the kid, I thought he was trying to clear space. But they saw it differently and he had to exit the game. That’s something he’ll learn from, and I’m going to stay in his ear and make sure he learns from it.”

Doc Rivers, meanwhile, was asked to comment on the incident. As he said, “I hate doing it, you know that.”

He paused.

“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I wish I was playing. I didn’t like that. They were up. I’m going to stop. I’ve already given up money.”

Rivers, of course, was already fined $25,000 this week for labeling the referees’ calls on Kevin Garnett “horrendous” after Game 2 at Madison Square Garden.

Smith said he was going to prepare to play on Sunday, though flagrant 2 fouls can come with fines or suspensions after they are reviewed by the league.

“I don’t really know,” he said when asked if the ejection was warranted. “I’m not really the judge of that. I’m going to let them do what they do. I’m really trying to stay away from getting into it with the officials. I’ve got to keep my head.

“It was a bad basketball play on my behalf just because I got kicked out of the game. My team needs me. Just got to get ready to play Sunday.”

Game 3: Knicks at Celtics preview

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 26, 2013 08:52 AM

davis_nybos6_spts.jpgGlobe Staff Photo/Jim Davis

Do the Celtics need a J.R. Smith-like, 35-foot prayer in Game 3, or will playing at TD Garden suffice? Folks with money on the line have installed the Celtics as 3-point favorites Friday night. The Knicks were favored by 6.5 points in Game 2. Part of that 9.5-point swing is due to the house trying to get more action on the bet, but it's also an indication that a closer game is expected. The C's were 27-13 at home this season and are 14-29 on the road (including the first two games vs. the Knicks), so a close game seems in the cards.

The TD Garden crowd is the best in the league, and as much as the Celtics don't want to make this about the tragic events of last week, there's bound to be an emotional boost. The Celtics averaged 98.5 points at home this season compared to 94.6 on the road. For a team that has struggled mightily on offense in the first two games, those extra points will be welcome.

One note on Boston.com's game coverage: We'll continue to bring you pregame, postgame, and practice updates in this space, but our in-game updates have been replaced by a user-friendly live blog.

Here are the details for tonight's game:

Tipoff: 8 p.m.
Series: New York leads the best-of-seven series, 2-0
Broadcast info:Television: ESPN; Radio: WEEI (93.7 FM)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Avery Bradley SG: Paul Pierce SF: Jeff Green PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Knicks: PG: Raymond Felton SG: Pablo Prigioni SF: Iman Shumpert PF: Carmelo Anthony C: Tyson Chandler

Injury note: Kevin Garnett (hip pointer) practiced in a limited role Thursday and is expected to play in Game 3.

Storylines:
Where will the offense come from?: Being at home will help, but the Celtics don't have an easy solution for their lack of scoring. They aren't going to get Rajon Rondo back, and they don't have a point guard to replace him. Jason Terry keeps talking about the Celtics getting out in transition; it's the only time he can get free for jumpers. As Doc Rivers noted Thursday, transition baskets don't come often in the playoffs.

KG's touches: Kevin Garnett has made four shots in each of his first two games, attempting 21 shots in total. Boston has struggled getting him the ball on the block in positions where he can go to work. That's going to require better spacing and crisp passing, which is just about the only thing the Celtics have been working on. We'll see if it clicks tonight.

Stat of the day: Including the playoffs, the Celtics are now 41-42 on the season.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Doc Rivers fined $25,000 for criticizing officials after Game 2

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 25, 2013 01:48 PM

Celtics coach Doc Rivers was fined $25,000 for publicly criticizing NBA officials after the team's loss Tuesday to the New York Knicks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

The league announced the fine Thursday.

After his team's 87-71 loss, Rivers was livid with some of the calls that went against Kevin Garnett, who had five fouls and was more or less a nonfactor in the game.

“Listen, I thought the fouls on Kevin, first of all they were horrendous,” Rivers said after the Celtics fell into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday.

“And secondly, I thought they had a huge effect on us.

“Kevin had three fouls that . . . I was . . . I mean, him not being on the floor, playing 24 minutes and never getting your rhythm, where you could see, it looked like he was going to have a game, it hurt us.

“That’s just the way it goes. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I thought if it could’ve gone either way on three of those, they all went against Kevin. I think that’s tough.”

Rivers hinted during a conference call with reporters Wednesday that he might be fined for his comments.

"Even [Tuesday], I didn’t think I said much — and that could be a problem,” Rivers said. “Because all I basically said was Kevin getting into foul trouble had a huge impact on the game. That’s not criticizing officials. So, I’ve just got to make sure I focus on our stuff.”

With 2-0 lead, Knicks aren't overconfident

Posted by Amalie Benjamin April 25, 2013 01:24 PM

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The Knicks may be up, 2-0, in their first-round playoff series against the Celtics, but they certainly weren’t acting overconfident on Thursday. As they keep repeating, those two games were in Madison Square Garden and, so far, they’ve only held on their home court.

“Boston is a talented team,” said guard Jason Kidd. “We’ve got to find a way to win on the road, and we know that they’re going to come with their best game tomorrow night. We’re not looking to go 3-0 -- we’re just trying to find a way to win on the road.”

The Knicks will get their chance at TD Garden Friday, as the Celtics play at home for the first time in two weeks.

“After Game 1, we had to act as if we were down one,” Kidd said. “And in that second half, that third quarter, we acted as if we needed to win that game. That’s the same approach we’ve got to take in Game 3. We’ve got to act as if we’re down.”

Though no NBA team has come back from a 3-0 series deficit – something that’s all too close for the Celtics – the Knicks said they just want to get through Friday night. That’s the focus.

“We’ve got to go down there and play 48 minutes solid,” coach Mike Woodson said. “There’s no easy wins on the road. The two games here were tough games. I don’t see it changing once we get to Boston.”

****

Meanwhile, the Knicks are trying to get Tyson Chandler back to full strength, as he didn't play well in the first two games coming off a neck injury.

“Tyson is a major piece to this puzzle,” Woodson said. “The fact that he was off – he’s lost a little weight, and we’re trying to get his strength back up. When that happens, it’ll grow.

"He made some major steps the other night, I thought. He’ll continue to get better. I’m not really concerned about Tyson.”

Doc Rivers on Courtney Lee: 'I'm not playing him right now'

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 25, 2013 12:02 PM

WALTHAM – Celtics guard Courtney Lee played just four minutes in an 87-71 loss to the Knicks in Game 2, and now we know why. Doc Rivers confirmed Thursday that Lee has fallen out of his rotation.

"I'm not playing him right now," said Rivers. "Honestly, Jordan [Crawford] has moved in front of him on the depth chart. But Courtney will have a say in this series. I believe that."

Rivers gave the answer in response to a question about Lee being instrumental in the team's fast break earlier in the season. Fast breaks are harder to come by in the playoffs, and the Celtics coach acknowledged that his team would need to get more points out of its halfcourt sets. He said Lee was OK with the demotion.

"He's handled it great as far as I know," said Rivers. "You never know. Guys move in front of him. Jordan is another guy that can give us what I just talked about offensively. For us our defense has been pretty good. The one thing Jordan does better is he can make a spot-up shot. But right now we're going the other way."

Thursday's Celtics-Knicks watch: Garnett limited in practice

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 25, 2013 11:08 AM

WALTHAM – Here's a rundown of the talking points following the Celtics' media availability Thursday at the team's practice facility.

Today's focus: Kevin Garnett will practice in a limited role Thursday while dealing with a hip pointer injury, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"I'm not going to let him go through the entire practice even if he's feeling good," said Rivers. "You don't want somebody to bang into you or something. We have to be careful with that."

Rivers said Garnett sustained the injury in the second half and asked Garnett if he could keep going. Rivers feared it was an injury to a stomach muscle and was relieved that it wasn't.

You have to wonder if Garnett has truly been 100 percent since his return late in the season. The Celtics big man is averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds in his first two games of the series. He's 8 for 21 from the field (38 percent). Maybe more disturbing is the fact that he's attempted only four free throws. The Celtics would like to involve Garnett more. They did it to great effect during last year's playoffs. Part of the problem is an ineffective Celtics offense, but health could be an issue as well.

Key for Game 3: Scoring in the halfcourt

The burning question after the first two games has been why the Celtics are so good in the first half and so bad after the break. Rivers thinks he knows why: The Celtics are getting points in transition before halftime and are struggling to do the same in the second half.

"We got stops in the first half, and it's transition," said Rivers. "We've gotten a lot of early baskets, transition baskets and attack. The second half we haven't had those, and we're not going to get them all the time. We're not. But we still have to be able to function.

"We're not organized offensively the way we're capable in my opinion. You're going to have to play some halfcourt in the playoffs. We knew that going in."

Rivers said it's hard to replicate New York's pressure outside of a game.

"Working on it in practice is one thing," said Rivers. "Playoff desperation pressure is a whole different ballgame."

Just where that halfcourt offense will come from is a problem. Rivers said Thursday that Courtney Lee has moved behind Jordan Crawford on the depth chart. Avery Bradley has struggled against ball pressure. Paul Pierce is being asked to do too much.

"We're not going to put all that pressure on Paul," said Rivers. "If we're asking Paul to score, start the offense, and pass the ball, we're going to struggle scoring."

Today's schedule: Both the Celtics and Knicks practiced Thursday. The Knicks are still in New York and will travel later today.

Stat of the day: The Celtics and Knicks each took 19 3-pointers in Game 2. That's New York's game. It's not Boston's.

Useful Twitter follow: Basketball Reference. As if you're not going to the site 10 times a day as it is.

Injury update: Kevin Garnett is limited with a hip pointer injury but is expected to play in Game 3.

View from behind enemy lines: (From the New York Times): Kenyon Martin is writing a new ending for the Knicks.

Have something to say about the series? Leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter.

Kevin Garnett suffered minor hip injury in Game 2 loss to Knicks

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 06:17 PM

Kevin Garnett suffered a hip injury during the Celtics’ 87-71 loss to the Knicks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Tuesday in New York, coach Doc Rivers said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Rivers said the injury is not serious and that Garnett should practice Thursday and play in Game 3 Friday at TD Garden.

Garnett has battled injuries lately, missing 10 of the final 13 games of the regular season with ankle inflammation, but the Celtics have also tried to rest him to prepare the 36-year-old for a postseason run.

Rivers said the injury Garnett suffered against the Knicks was “not the hip flexor, [but] a hip pointer.

“It was very similar to having a hip pointer in football, I guess,” Rivers said. “And it was affecting him. I was concerned that he had done something else, because where he was grabbing his hip, but I thought it was his stomach, where you pull a stomach muscle or something. That’s why, I think, in a couple timeouts, I kept asking him, was he OK. And he is, he’s good."

Garnett finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the loss, but he played just 24 minutes because of foul trouble. The Celtics had looked to involve Garnett more in the game after their Game 1 loss, but, obviously, that didn’t happen.

Reasons the Celtics can get back into the series

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 24, 2013 11:17 AM

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NEW YORK – The visitor's locker room at Madison Square Garden just seemed darker following the Celtics' 87-71 loss to the Knicks in Game 2. Players shuffled in and out without saying much of anything. When Avery Bradley was done talking to the media, he just kind of sat there, staring blankly ahead. Kevin Garnett was barely audible as he sat at an empty locker.

The team's problems were written on their faces and in the words of head coach Doc Rivers, who dropped several references to his team being inferior to the opponent.

"We are who we are. We can't apologize for that."

"I think Paul was playing pretty well. He started getting tired in the second half because he tried to do everything."

"We don't have 50 points on our bench."

After Tuesday's game, a member of the New York media said of the Celtics, "Their bench is the Washington Wizards."

All of these things are true. The Celtics can't score or rebound. They can't defend Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith. At one point the Knicks trotted out a lineup with three point guards; the Celtics don't have one on their roster.

The warning signs were there. Ten days before the playoffs I wrote that the Celtics' lack of offense was going to spell big trouble against the Knicks, that the Celtics really haven't been able to score effectively since 2009 (2009!). I predicted the Celtics would lose the series in five games. With the press box buzzing that the Celtics would get back on track Tuesday night, I mentioned to ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne that the Celtics were going to lose by 15.

All of that is a conceited way of saying I agree with colleagues Gary Washburn and Dan Shaughnessy when they write that the Celtics look finished. If not done they're certainly overmatched. Winning four of the next five games against the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference seems like a tall task.

The Knicks have many ways to win, while the Celtics have to pitch a somewhat perfect game. But we've seen them do it before, as recently as last year. Rather than focus on the negative – while acknowledging that it won't be easy – here are some reasons the Celtics can come back and make this a series.

– Kevin Garnett has yet to be that Kevin Garnett (And in Game 2 it wasn't his fault):

Garnett averaged 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds in a dominant 2011-2012 postseason. The minutes restriction is off the Celtics big man, but he ran into foul trouble Tuesday night and only saw 24 minutes of action. The Celtics can't afford to play KG 24 minutes and win a game. Garnett has an advantage against Tyson Chandler, who is playing with a neck injury, and KG has a definite mismatch against Chris Copeland or whomever else the Knicks throw at him.

– The Celtics are going home:

The C's were 27-13 at home this season and are 14-27 on the road. They haven't been good away from TD Garden all year, so the developments of the last two games haven't been surprising. If the C's can hold homecourt and steal one game on the road, they can win the series.

– The defense has been solid:

The Celtics keep saying that if they hold the Knicks under 90 points and 45 percent shooting they've got a shot. It hasn't worked out in the first two games, but the Celtics have also taken leads into the second half. I truly believe they're fine with Anthony getting his points so long as everyone else is limited. Their defense is keeping them in games, now they've got to work on not falling apart.

"I like the way we defend," said Pierce. "The Knicks score 100 points a game. We're holding them to under 90 for two games. I'm happy with the way we're defending. Melo is having his big games, we understand that. He's a great player, he's going to get his looks. Overall defensively we're playing at the level we want to play at. If we're able to turn the offense around a little bit I like our chances."

– The bench woke up in Game 2 (briefly):

Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford combined for 14 points in the first half of Game 2 after failing to score in Game 1. Many of Terry's points came in transition. The Celtics need to continue to push the ball ahead.

– They're mad:

Garnett and Pierce will be fired up. Courtney Lee only played four minutes in Game 2, so he's got a reason to be upset. Said Bradley, "After these two losses you definitely feel like it's payback time. Everybody's mad in here, and we can't wait until the next game."

– The schedule:

The series is set up in such a way that neither team has the chance to get any kind of momentum. The teams don't play again until Friday. Tired legs shouldn't be a factor.

– The offense can't get any worse:

From Sheridan Hoops: The Boston Celtics – the most storied franchise in NBA history –competed in 593 playoff games over an illustrious 67-year history. Just twice has Boston managed to score 25 points or fewer in the second half of a playoff game, both of which have come in just the past three days against the Knicks.

What do you think? Do the C's have any shot?

Lack of offense a major issue in Game 2 loss vs. Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 23, 2013 11:52 PM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics were stricken with a second-half offensive drought for the second straight game Tuesday night. After scoring 25 points in the second half of Game 1 Saturday Boston managed just 23 points after halftime in Game 2. The Celtics were outscored, 32-11, in a dismal third quarter.

"We've got to do a better job of not allowing the pressure to get to us," said forward Paul Pierce. "If we can hold them to 85 every night I like our chances, but we've got to be better offensively."

Pierce has committed 11 combined turnovers in the two games. The Celtics as a whole were better in that category Tuesday night, but they struggled mightily to score in the second half. Jason Terry had 9 points at halftime and didn't score after the break.

"I think they turned their pressure up and didn't allow us to get into our offense," said Terry. "We've got to do a much better job of maintaining our pace."

Terry said the Celtics would try to play more up-tempo basketball at home in Game 3 Friday night.

"I like the way we defend," said Pierce. "The Knicks score 100 points a game. We're holding them to under 90 for two games. I'm happy with the way we're defending. Melo is having his big games, we understand that. He's a great player, he's going to get his looks. Overall defensively we're playing at the level we want to play at. If we're able to turn the offense around a little bit I like our chances."

Game 2: Celtics at Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 23, 2013 12:26 PM

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NEW YORK -- Gratefully, we're ready to play basketball again.

The Celtics had a lot of time to think about what did they wrong in Saturday's 85-78 loss to the Knicks in Game 1. They spent a good chunk of that time watching film and preaching team basketball, but don't expect the game plan to change much Tuesday night. The Celtics liked the way they played for three quarters in Game 1. They like playing games in the 80s. They like their chances if the game goes essentially the same way, just with better execution and fewer turnovers.

The Celtics went through a closed shootaround this morning at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks didn't practice. The Celtics can give this series a dramatic turn with a win in Game 2.

One note on Boston.com's game coverage: We'll continue to bring you pregame, postgame, and practice updates in this space, but our in-game updates will be replaced by a user-friendly live blog.

Here are the details for tonight's game:

Tipoff: 8 p.m.
Series: New York leads the best-of-seven series, 1-0
Broadcast info:Television: CSN, TNT; Radio: WEEI (93.7 FM)
Officials: Rodney Mott, Derrick Stafford, and David Jones

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Avery Bradley SG: Paul Pierce SF: Jeff Green PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Knicks: PG: Raymond Felton SG: Pablo Prigioni SF: Iman Shumpert PF: Carmelo Anthony C: Tyson Chandler

Injury note: Pablo Prigioni (right ankle) practiced Monday and is in line to start Game 2. If so, Iman Shumpert will come off the bench.

Storylines:
Lead guard: Doc Rivers said Monday that his key players were Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jeff Green. That's obvious, but it's also telling that Rivers didn't mention any of his guards. Four of the eight players Rivers used Saturday are guards, but it's clear he isn't really thrilled with any of them. Can Avery Bradley or Courtney Lee change that tonight?

Rough stuff: The Knicks are very good at stripping the ball away from the offensive player. Pierce seemed mildly amused when asked about it this weekend, saying that Tyson Chandler was New York's only shot-blocker, and that the Celtics would need to do a better job of being strong with the ball. There could be some tense moments in Game 2 if the Celtics decide to play rough as well.

Key stat: Chris Wilcox has never gotten into a playoff game in his 11-year career. He didn't play Saturday, so the streak is intact. Rivers hinted that he'd use a big man at some point in the first half, but don't be surprised if it's Shavlik Randolph and not Wilcox.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Knicks' J.R. Smith wins NBA Sixth Man Award

Posted by Amalie Benjamin April 22, 2013 01:22 PM


GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- On Saturday, J.R. Smith was one of the key reasons the Knicks beat the Celtics in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. On Monday, Smith won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award for his troubles.

It wasn’t always easy, as the Knicks had to get the shooting guard, in his ninth year in the league, to buy into the role off the bench. But he has done so in his two seasons in New York, and has become a key offensive force.

“It couldn’t have happened to a better guy,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “I’m so proud of him, in terms of buying into what we wanted him to do earlier in the season, and it started this summer.

“I wasn’t going to start him coming into this year, and I knew that, and he bought in. He didn’t like it, but he bought in.”

The Knicks have set up a press conference for 2:30 p.m., and Smith is expected to receive the award then.

Smith had 15 points in 31 minutes off the bench in Game 1, and was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Carmelo Anthony, who had 36 points. He added 5 rebounds and 2 steals.

“He bought in,” Woodson said. “Didn’t like it at first, but he accepted his role and he walks away with the Sixth Man Award. So it all worked out.”

****

Woodson said that guard Pablo Prigioni, who missed Game 1 with a sprained right ankle, “looked good” as he aims to play in Game 2 Tuesday. If Prigioni is able to play, said Woodson, he will start.


Celtics may get out and run in Game 2

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 22, 2013 12:25 PM

NEW YORK – It's a question of style.

The Celtics scored just 25 points in the second half of Game 1 vs. the Knicks Saturday. They scored eight points in the fourth quarter and shot 41 percent for the game. They didn't get a lot of easy looks.

One way to fix that is to get out in transition. That's exactly what Paul Pierce said he wanted to do before his team took the court at Madison Square Garden Monday for practice.

"Some of those easy opportunities have to come in transition," said Pierce. "Kicking the ball ahead to myself, Jeff [Green] is something we want to emphasize. We feel like if we can get the ball up and advance passes before the defense, it says it gives us an opportunity to get easy baskets. The more we get stops the more opportunities there are for that."

The Celtics have had a strained relationship with the fast break this season. On one hand, they played some of their best basketball by pushing the tempo during a seven-game win streak after Rajon Rondo went down. They averaged 105 points during the streak (two of the games went to multiple overtimes) compared with their season average of 96.5 points. The Celtics had 20 turnovers Saturday, but most of them came in the half-court, not in transition. The Celtics might do well to push the pace Tuesday night.

On the other hand, the Celtics are the sloppiest team in the league on the break. According to Synergy Sports, they had the NBA's highest turnover percentage in transition, coughing the ball up on 15 percent of their fast break possessions this season. The Knicks are the league's 11th-highest scoring team (3d in offensive rating). Do the Celtics really want to get into a track meet with New York?

The guess here is that in addition to taking better care of the ball and making the extra pass, the Celtics will look to push the ball more Tuesday night. It's worth a shot.

More notes from Monday's practice:

– Celtics coach Doc Rivers said this was not the same group of road warriors that he's had in past seasons.

"You have two guys [from those teams]," said Rivers. "Without Rondo you have Kevin and Paul. It's not that group. That's the difference.

"You tend to trust the guys you know, but I don't know any of them. I don't know a lot of them. ... You want to play your key guys as many minutes."

Rivers mentioned Pierce, Garnett, and Jeff Green as his key guys. He said he wasn't concerned about his team not being dominant away from home.

"You win one and that changes everything," he said.

– Kevin Garnett reiterated the need for his team to play unselfish basketball and to continue their tough defense.

– Jordan Crawford scoffed at the notion that he was nervous in Game 1.

– Rajon Rondo was on the floor in sweats, sporting big green headphones and rebounding for his teammates. At one point Rivers yelled over to Rondo.

"Rondo you practicing today?" he asked.

"Not today," Rondo replied.

Monday's Celtics-Knicks watch

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 22, 2013 10:11 AM

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Today's focus: On Sunday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers, as well as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, lamented the lack of teamwork and forced shots that led Boston to commit 20 turnovers in an 85-78 loss to the Knicks in Game 1. On Sunday, the Celtics watched film and formulated a plan. Today the Celtics will get down to the business of putting that plan into action. Making the extra pass is easy to talk about but harder to do in practice.

Today's schedule: Celtics have media availability at 11:45 a.m. at MSG, followed by practice at noon; The Knicks practice at 11 a.m. in Westchester before media availability at noon.

Stat of the day:

That stat says two things: The Celtics miss Rajon Rondo, and at this point they're better playing a controlled style than a frantic one.

Useful Twitter follow: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. At this point you've pretty much got to follow Kobe.

Injury update: We're on Pablo Prigioni watch. The Knicks play much better with two point guards on the floor.

View from behind enemy lines: From the New York Daily News: Mike Woodson's work should not be overlooked.

Series news: J.R. Smith will be named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year today, according to Howard Beck of the New York Times.

Interesting read: Allen Iverson has hit rock bottom.

Have something to say about the series? Leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter.

Knicks missed Prigioni, coach says

Posted by Amalie Benjamin April 21, 2013 01:03 PM
NEW YORK – Despite taking the win in the first game of their first-round series against the Celtics, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Sunday Pablo Prigioni's absence was felt "on both ends of the floor."

"We went back and charted our offense. We had some slow time where we just, we were very stagnant," Woodson said.

It's not known whether Prigioni will make it back for Game 2 on Tuesday. The 35-year-old guard sprained his ankle in the Knicks' final game of the season. Woodson listed him as still "day-to-day," and said the team would know more after practicing on Monday.

If Prigioni is able to go, that would change up the rotations a bit, with Raymond Felton likely to start on Paul Pierce with Iman Shumpert on Jeff Green. The Celtics' Green went off for 20 points in the first half of Saturday's game, but had only six points in the second half after the Knicks' defense clamped down on him, with Carmelo Anthony getting a large chunk of that defensive duty.

Woodson said that was what the team had envisioned before the series, before Prigioni had gotten hurt.

"I thought Melo did an excellent job on Green," Woodson said. "Green’s a tough cover for anybody."

Overall, Woodson was very happy with his team's defensive play, especially in the third and fourth quarters, saying it was more solid than he's seen his team all year in those situations.

"There was times when we had movement and we had good looks that we just didn't make shots that really could have, I thought, could have broke the game open," Woodson said. "But we didn't make them.

"And again, when you play playoff basketball, and I've experienced this over the years, it’s not going to always go pretty offensively for you. That’s probably the first thing that normally goes because everybody’s so locked in from a defensive standpoint.

"But I've always said that if you’re struggling to score the ball, you've got to make sure the other team is struggling to score as well. Then you put yourself in a position to win. I thought that’s what happened last night. ... Our defense seemed to hold in there a little bit longer than theirs."

Celtics trying to work with Kevin Garnett's increased minutes

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 21, 2013 12:26 PM

NEW YORK – The Celtics didn't practice Sunday, choosing instead to watch film of what went wrong in Saturday's Game 1 loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The consensus among players and Celtics coach Doc Rivers is that the problem is team-related, and that it's correctable.

"It's about our offensive concept," said forward Paul Pierce. "That's what we preach every day. Ball movement, make the extra pass. It doesn't matter who we put out there on the court or how long they've been here. That's our system. When we play that way we're successful."

The Celtics didn't trust each other in Game 1, forcing passes to Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jeff Green that simply weren't there instead of making the easy play. Pierce put the blame on himself and also on Green, and those two combined for 12 turnovers. Pierce also acknowledged that he needs help.

"When we look at the box score we should have five, six, seven guys in double-figures," said Pierce.

The Celtics' bench combined for just four points in Game 1, so there's obviously an issue there. But Garnett is a player the Celtics would like to involve much more. There are no restrictions on Garnett's minutes for the playoffs. The big man will play for as long as he can go. He made 4 of 12 shots for 8 points in Game 1.

"We've got to get Kevin more involved," Rivers said Sunday. "There's lots of ways to do that."

Better passes are a start. Garnett also said it would take some time to adjust to playing more minutes, and that it would be "an adjustment period for everybody." The Celtics don't have much time to get it right.

The Celtics and Chicago Bulls are staying at the same Manhattan hotel. Rivers called it "a very dark place" Saturday night after both teams lost. The Celtics get a chance to redeem themselves Tuesday night.

Watch: Doc Rivers fine with team's defense on Carmelo Anthony

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 21, 2013 12:13 PM

NEW YORK – Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Sunday he was OK with how his team defended Carmelo Anthony in Game 1 vs. the Knicks.

Sunday's Celtics-Knicks watch

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 21, 2013 09:16 AM

0de255ce064f41be970382859778ae8e-0de255ce064f41be970382859778ae8e-0.jpgToday's focus: Let's start with something positive. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was 13-of-29 from the field in Saturday's 85-78 win over the Celtics. Anthony got his points (36 of them), but he wasn't efficient about it, and the Knicks didn't run away with any burst of offense. Two Knicks starters, Chris Copeland and Tyson Chandler, didn't score. Iman Shumpert had three points. Volume scorer J.R. Smith managed just 15 points off the bench. The Celtics are going to tell us today they can play much, much better. But expect the Knicks to say the same thing.

Today's schedule: Celtics have media availability at a.m., followed by a walkthrough and film session; Knicks have a conference call at noon.

Stat of the day: The Knicks were 26-2 in the regular season when they held opponents to 90 points or fewer.

Useful Twitter follow: Paul Flannery, who now writes for SB Nation.

Injury update: Knicks backup point guard Pablo Prigioni is questionable for Game 2, but Knicks coach Mike Woodson said there was a decent change Prigioni would play Tuesday.

View from behind enemy lines: Tons and tons of praise for Jason Kidd after Game 1. He's 40, you know.

Today's miscellany: This is the first Game 1 win for the Knicks in the playoffs since 2001 vs. the Toronto Raptors.

Have something to say about the series? Leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter.

Jeff Green needs help on offense in Game 2

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 21, 2013 07:17 AM

greengame1help.jpg

NEW YORK -- Will some other Celtic please step up?

The Celtics are waiting for someone, anyone, to carry the torch passed by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, to be the next Boston Celtics playoff hero. Rajon Rondo has had a few of those games, most recently his 44-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound outburst (Rondo's critics will call it a tantrum) in Game 2 vs. Miami in last year's Eastern Conference Finals. In a 2011 sweep of the Knicks, Rondo put up arguably his most impressive playoff triple double, amassing 15 points, 11 rebounds, and a staggering 20 assists in a 113-96 win in Game 3.

That Rondo turned in the last performance in this very same building is a reminder of how much he's missed. That Rondo is hanging around the team giving high-grade advice in a high-fashion suit without being able to suit up is somewhat upsetting.

There's no other Rajon Rondo waiting in the wings, and for the moment, no other Celtic appears ready to pick up the slack left behind by a declining Pierce and Garnett. Jeff Green did his darnedest Saturday, but he couldn't match the effectiveness of his 20-point first half later in the game. Green took five shots in the second half and one in the fourth quarter. Realizing Green was killing them, the Knicks keyed in on the versatile forward, double-teaming Green and forcing someone else to beat them. No one else did,

"Paul is our go-to guy, but we've got myself, [Jason Terry], Courtney [Lee]," said Green. "We've got to continue to be aggressive. We can't rely on Paul and KG."

It wasn't all Green's fault. The Knicks jostled Green, switching Carmelo Anthony onto the Celtics winger in the second half to rough him up a bit. Anthony made every catch difficult. Out on the top of the key Jason Kidd roamed like a free safety, making entry passes into the post themselves an adventure.

The Celtics had no good way to get the ball to Green, but Green didn't have help. Courtney Lee scored four points, which happened to be the only points scored by the Boston bench all afternoon. Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford combined to go scoreless in nearly 30 minutes of play. A Boston bench player over 6-feet-5-inches tall never took his warmups off.
The other starters weren't much help, either. Avery Bradley picked up two fouls in the first quarter and sat early. He struggled when he was in the game, committing four turnovers to four assists. Garnett was 4-of-12 from the field. Brandon Bass was a frustratingly-efficient 2 for 2, not getting the ball often enough in the right spots to continue his perfect game.

"We were just making bad passes," said Bradley. "That's not the kind of team we are. We just panicked a little bit and we don't have to do that."

The key question is whether the Celtics have the pieces and just aren't executing, or whether it's a problem of personnel. Terry gave the Celtics nothing Saturday. Bradley is better known for his defense than his offense. Both players have shown a solid scoring touch at times, and Lee and Bass can fill it up on and off. One of these players needs to step up and, like Green,and take a dominant role in the offense for a quarter or a half. Pierce and Garnett can't carry the team like they used to.
The Celtics used eight players Saturday, leaving big men Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph on the bench. Maybe getting one of those bigger bodies into the game for 12 or 15 minutes will help the screen-setting. Despite his erraticism, Crawford needs more minutes in Game 2. The Celtics traded for Crawford because of his ability score, and they need to see if he can help. They won't do much worse than 78 points and 20 turnovers.

"We've got to make sure we are in the game, make sure we are helping [Paul]," said Green. "If we're aggressive it means the defense has to gear toward us and it leaves Paul open to get his shots and start making shots."

It sounds simple, and the Celtics aren't likely to throw the ball around quite as much as they did in Game 1. But they also haven't ranked in the top half of the league in offense in several seasons. This year during the regular season they finished 24th. Just where that extra scoring will come from in Game 2 is of primary concern.


Celtics confident they can fix problems from Game 1

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 20, 2013 06:37 PM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics admitted they played poorly in a loss to the Knicks in Game 1 of the playoffs Saturday afternoon, but to a man they admitted that their problems were correctable and could be fixed in time for Game 2 Tuesday.

"Twenty turnovers and 10 offensive rebounds," said Kevin Garnett. "That's too much. Playing on the road against a good team that's energized, you don't help yourself."

The Celtics absolutely did not help themselves Saturday. The turnovers began to pile up in the second half as long, listless passes into the post turned into dunks for the Knicks the other way. The Celtics scored 53 points in the first half. In the second, they managed just 25 points on an astonishing seven field goals and 11 turnovers.

"I thought each guy held the ball and tried to make their own play," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "That’s not who we are. We can’t play that way.

"If we have those turnovers in any game you should probably lose the game."

Jeff Green was a monster in the first half, scoring 20 points, but the Celtics either went away from Green or couldn't find him in the second half.

"They started to be more aggressive when I caught the ball," Green said afterward. "Double teams. I didn't get out in transition like I did in the first half. They forced turnovers. We weren't in our sets correctly. They upped the pressure."

Besides the offense in the second half, the Celtics said they were happy. Rivers dared the Knicks to score 85 points again in a game this series. He said his team's issues were more fundamental than mental, and that they could be fixed by simply making better passes. Green was pleased with forcing Carmelo Anthony into taking tough shots.

"He's a good offensive player," said Green. "He's going to get his shots. The best that we can do is try to make everything forced. He shot 13-for-29. What more can you ask for?"


Celtics pledge support to One Fund through sale of shirts

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 20, 2013 03:59 PM

onefund.jpeg The yellow warm-up shirts Celtics players wore Saturday during their game vs. the Knicks will be sold as part of a fundraiser for the The One Fund Boston, raising money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Adidas created 2,620 of the shirts, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to The One Fund Boston. The shirts will be available to consumers at Celtics.com/shop, NBAStore.com, adidas.com, the ProShop at the TD Garden, the NBA Store in New York as well as adidas retail locations.

The Celtics are also pledging $100,000 from the Shamrock Foundation. In addition, the team is providing ticket holders for the cancelled April 16 game vs the Indiana Pacers the opportunity to donate their refund for that game. Celtics fans may also make direct donations through the Shamrock Foundation.

Rajon Rondo with the Celtics as a sort of coach

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 20, 2013 02:27 PM

NEW YORK -- Injured Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is with the team in New York to give insights into the series, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Saturday. Rondo was supposed to travel down to New York Friday but was stuck in Boston with most of the city in lockdown. Rivers said he appreciated the contributions of his hobbled All-Star.

"He probably coaches as much as anybody," said Rivers. "I don't know if it helps, I think it does. As a player you tend to listen to the players in the uniforms over the suits and ties. So we'll see. He was great today in shootaround. He knew every set the Knicks were running. When we called out a set to talk through it, he was pointing where everybody should be."

"It's amazing. He's always been that way. He's not playing and yet he studied the book."

Rivers quipped that Rondo could have a career in coaching someday if not for one flaw.

"He's always been on another level," said Rivers. "I always tell him that if he wasn't so crazy he'd be a great coach.

Rivers did say he would miss having Rondo on the floor.

"I've never gone into any game or series without a point guard on the team," he said. "We don't have a point guard. That would be the concern going into the playoffs for me. Everybody's going to pressure us, it's no secret. With Rondo you have the ability to think your way out of it. No one presses Rondo. If they do, he can figure it out and run our stuff. We don't have that. That's been taken away from us, and that's a big chunk of your offense obviously."

Game 1: Celtics at Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 20, 2013 08:56 AM

NEW YORK -- We're just a few short hours away from tip-off of the NBA playoffs. The nuances of the Celtics-Knicks series will play out in front of us over the next couple of weeks, but we can at least begin to piece the puzzle together now.

ABGame1.jpgJeff Green is rightly considered one of the keys to this series for Boston, but Avery Bradley is arguably just as important to Boston's success. It's been a tale of two seasons for Bradley. On one hand, there's no question his return to the lineup rocketed the Celtics up the NBA's defensive rankings to their current position of 6th in the league. But Bradley has struggled individually. He shot just 36 percent from the field in 16 March games. He only slightly improved in April. At just 22, he's the only reasonably complete guard the Celtics have. That's a lot of pressure.

Speaking of pressure, it's somewhat shocking teams haven't put more ball pressure on Bradley and the Celtics. Without Rajon Rondo, Boston clearly struggles against full-court defense. Look for the Knicks to at least attempt to exploit that at times.

Bradley doesn't have to be the best player on the floor for the Celtics, but he has to be efficient. He can't turn the ball over. He needs to shoot better than he has of late. On defense, Bradley's task is simple but more difficult: He needs to be the team's best player. Specifically, he needs to limit New York to bad 3-point attempts. He needs to bother J.R. Smith. He needs to make it difficult for Raymon Felton to run the offense. No pressure, kid.

One note on Boston.com's game coverage. We'll continue to bring you pregame, postgame, and practice updates in this space, but our in-game updates will be replaced by a user-friendly live blog.

Here are the details for tonight's game:

Tip-off: 3 p.m.
Series: This is the first game in a best-of-seven
Broadcast info:ABC (MIke Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Heather Cox), WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)
Officials: Monty McCutchen, Bill Spooner, Gary Zielinski

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Avery Bradley SG: Paul Pierce SF: Jeff Green PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Knicks: PG: Raymond Felton SG: Iman Shumpert SF: Carmelo Anthony PF: Chris Copeland C: Tyson Chandler

Storylines:
Opening statement: I'm fascinated by the opening dynamic in this one. The Knicks have a ton to prove, but so do the Celtics, who must work Kevin Garnett back into the lineup of a team that hasn't played .500 basketball in two months. Will Garnett instantly morph into the unstoppable player he was during last year's playoffs? Will the Knicks show any kind of fragility, or will they carry the momentum from the regular season right into Game 1?

Walk the line: New York is first in the NBA in 3-pointers made and attempted and 5th in 3-point percentage. That last stat is the most important. If the Knicks can shoot threes efficiently, not just in volume, it's going to be a difficult series for Boston.

Road woes: The Celtics were 14-27 on the road this season. They need to win at least one game on the road to win this series. Garnett and Pierce seem to thrive on the challenges of playing in a hostile environment, but will they have proper backup?

@GlobeGaryDzen

NBA commissioner David Stern talks about events in Boston

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 19, 2013 07:50 PM



NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern briefly touched on the events in Boston during a press briefing following the Board of Governors meeting in New York Friday. Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca discussed The One Fund charity effort, and Stern talked about increased security for the Knicks-Celtics playoff series that begins Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

"There was a discussion of security, of what we're doing, what we continue to do," said Stern, "and in that connection, there was a presentation by Steve Pagliuca, who is the governor from the Celtics, about what's called The One Fund, which has been established by the businesses of Boston, to which the Celtics are taking a leadership role and which the NBA is making a significant contribution to.

"Everybody was focused on what's going on in Boston, what has gone on in Boston, and at this point almost a seeming irrelevance of sports in light of the great human suffering and the tragedies that we're all glued to the television about."

"But we're touched by the outpouring of support for all of the people of Boston. We were actually briefed on the president's attendance at the Mass yesterday, or at the church yesterday, and what we could do in some way to show support for the people of Boston, and we'll see how that plays out ...particularly in the course of the Knicks-Celtics playoff series."

Basketball is the focus for Knicks

Posted by Amalie Benjamin April 19, 2013 02:46 PM

ELMSFORD, N.Y. -- It was all business here in Elmsford, N.Y., as the Knicks prepared for Saturday's Game 1 of their playoff series against the Celtics, with the focus on the starting lineup and guard Pablo Prigioni's sprained right ankle.

But Jason Kidd took time to address the situation in Boston.

“You look at what the city has gone through – the game of basketball is just a game," Kidd said. "We’re talking about lives.

"The emotions will be high for them, just because of what’s happened. Not just them, but for the country. Everybody is going to have emotion. Hopefully we can give people relief for two hours, but at the end of the day, what happened is tragic.”

As for his team, the Knicks are trying to determine whether Prigioni will be able to play after injuring his ankle Wednesday.

"Shot a little bit today, but I think he's doubtful tomorrow," coach Mike Woodson said. "I just don't see it."

In Prigioni's spot, the Knicks are likely to go with Chris Copeland, though they could also use James White.

The Knicks' Iman Shumpert missed practice for personal reasons. He is expected back with the team today, and will play in Game 1.

Celtics' thoughts are on Boston as they practice in New York

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 19, 2013 01:57 PM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics left the night before and arrived here safe and sound.

But, like many others, their focus Friday was, at least in part, on the events going on back in Boston, where the city was locked down as authorities search for one of the suspects in Monday's deadly Boston Marathon bombings.

Coach Doc Rivers said team owner Stephen Pagliuca called him around 6 a.m. to make sure he was OK. Rivers then turned on the television and watched the news coverage.

"And then you don't go back to sleep, you can't turn it back off," Rivers said Friday at Columbia University, where his team practiced a day before Game 1 of its first-round playoff series against the Knicks.

"So, it's really sad stuff. It's crazy, it's sad. You just want it to come to an end."

Said Kevin Garnett, "Yeah, man, the city's crazy, man. I think everybody's kind of trying to at least focus in a little bit on, obviously, our game and the playoffs, but the obvious is everybody's worried, also. I hope everybody back home, especially in the whole New England area, is OK and safe."

Garnett acknowledged that it's difficult to focus on basketball at a time like this, but Rivers said having a game to play will help.

"Honestly, for us, getting on the floor is good medicine," Rivers said. "It gets you focused on your job."

Obviously, the Celtics are looking to win, but Jason Terry said there is extra motivation to win for a city that has gone through so much the past week.

"Well, it's definitely pride for the city, which we carry every time we put the Boston uniform on," he said, "but, at the same time, when we go out there, we will be thinking about it a little bit, and hopefully it'll give us a little extra edge."

But Rivers said, "I don't think it'll go either one way or the other. I think before the game ... I was laughing yesterday. I played here, so I know the mind-set of a New Yorker, and hearing, 'Good luck, Doc!' 'Hey, Doc, we love Boston!' I mean, I almost ran into a cab last night. But I know what they mean, and they mean the city. They ain't meaning the Celtics.

"I get that, 100 percent. Even a worker at the Four Seasons said, 'I want you to know I'm a Boston fan.' And then she turned around: 'Today.' And I was thinking, 'That's what this is all about.' And that's good. It's good. I love the rivalry. I think it's great."

Survey: Who will win the Celtics-Knicks series?

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 19, 2013 10:26 AM

The series pitting the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference against the No. 7 seed starts Saturday afternoon. Who you got?


Friday's Celtics-Knicks watch

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 19, 2013 10:15 AM

fridaymelo.jpg Today's focus: The Celtics' chief concern this series has to be Carmelo Anthony, who wrapped up his first scoring title this week, averaging 28.7 points per game this season. Doc Rivers has said he'd like to use multiple defenders on Anthony. The guess here is Jeff Green will be the main defender, with Paul Pierce contributing. Rivers may also elect to play his "LeBron James" defense on Anthony -- letting Melo get his, so long as no one else does. Either way, Anthony, and not New York's 3-point shooting, is Boston's No. 1 priority.

Today's schedule: Celtics practice at 11:30 a.m.; Knicks practice at 11 a.m.

Stat of the day (via @MrTrpleDouble10): For the first time since the 2006-07 season, in which they tanked for a higher draft pick, the Celtics had a negative point differential.

Useful Twitter follow: New York Times NBA/Knicks reporter Howard Beck.

Injury update: Knicks backup point guard Pablo Prigioni is questionable for Game 1. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Jason Kidd will not start in Game 1 but will come off the bench, meaning the Knicks won't start the series with a two-point guard lineup right off the bat.

View from behind enemy lines: Why Quentin Richardson helps the Knicks.
Thought-provoking read: The Knicks now have to face America's team.

Former Celtic-turned-Knick we'll miss the most: Rasheed Wallace, who retired Wednesday. Again.

Today's miscellany: The Las Vegas odds of winning the NBA title, via Bovada:

Miami Heat: 5/8
Knicks: 16/1
Nets: 60/1
Celtics: 66/1

Have something to say about the series? Leave a comment. Follow me on Twitter.

Celtics-Knicks opening storylines

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 18, 2013 02:37 PM

celticsknicksintro.jpg

It's on. The playoffs start for the Celtics Saturday at 3 p.m., and I'm joining Gary Washburn and Baxter Holmes on the beat for the remainder of the season. In addition to game and practice coverage, we'll bring you the key stats, quotes, and analysis of the day, as well as the view from the other side. There will be a running live blog during games. We hope you'll check back often.

It's hard to think of a better first-round opponent than the Knicks. The teams play vastly different styles of basketball, and they don't particularly like each other. There's the whole Boston-New York thing, the KG-vs.-Carmelo thing, and the Paul Pierce-vs-newly signed Quentin Richardson thing.

To get your creative juices flowing, here are some of the things I'm watching for from the Celtics in this series. I'll attempt to answer some of these questions in a feature on Boston.com tomorrow.

-- Can the Celtics work KG back into the mix?

-- Can Avery Bradley play lead guard?

-- Can Shavlik Randolph be a playoff contributor?

-- Can Paul Pierce do it on both ends?

-- Can Brandon Bass be consistently visible?

-- Can they score enough points?

-- Can they flip the switch?

-- How exactly will Rajon Rondo be missed?

-- Will Jordan Crawford be an asset or a liability?

-- Can the chips fall their way in the rest of the conference?

-- Can Jeff Green be a consistent No. 1 or No. 2 scorer?

-- Does rebounding matter?

-- Can Doc Rivers steal a series?

What are your biggest questions surrounding the Celtics this series? Talk to you tomorrow.

Celtics-Knicks begin series on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 18, 2013 01:58 AM


The Celtics begin their playoff series with the New York Knicks on Saturday at Madison Square Garden at 3 p.m. on ABC and will play their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings on April 26 at 8 p.m.

The NBA released the seven-game schedule for the Celtics-Knicks clash with a two-day break between Games 1 and 2 and between Games 2 and 3 and between Games 4 and 5. The Celtics will travel from Toronto to New York on Thursday and will practice Friday in New York in preparation for their Game 1 opener with the Knicks.


Here is the full schedule with times and network:

Game 1 -- Sat April 20 Boston at New York 3 p.m. ABC
Game 2 -- Tue April 23 Boston at New York 8 p.m. CSN/TNT
Game 3 -- Fri April 26 New York at Boston 8 p.m CSN/ESPN
Game 4 -- Sun April 28 New York at Boston 1 p.m. ABC
Game 5 * Wed May 1 Boston at New York TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 3 New York at Boston TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 5 Boston at New York TBD TBD

*if necessary

Final: Toronto 114, Boston 90

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 08:16 PM

TORONTO – With nothing to play for, the Celtics didn’t play at all Wednesday.

Well, they technically played, if you consider “playing” as wearing uniforms and sneakers and walking onto a court. But the Celtics didn’t do much beyond that.

Boston closed down their 2012-13 regular season by being thoroughly showed up by the Toronto Raptors, who smoked the Celtics, 114-90, at Air Canada Centre.

The Celtics were playing without Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. Paul Pierce played limited minutes, as did Brandon Bass and Jeff Green. Under those circumstances, the game turned ugly after halftime, when Toronto’s 13-0 run put it up by 21 points.

Doc Rivers waved the white flag by inserting rookie center Fab Melo into the game early in the second half. Melo responded by picking up four fouls in three minutes.

Toronto scored 37 points in the third quarter, which tied for the second-most points that the Celtics have allowed in a quarter this season. (The most? 41 in the second quarter against Miami on April 12.)

By the fourth quarter, the crowd was doing The Wave as their team reached the 100-point mark…with 9:10 left to play. The Celtics had their backups’ backups on the court for most of the fourth quarter, when they trailed by more than 30 points.

Pierce, who was sick most of the week, scored 11 points in 15 minutes. Jordan Crawford scored 16 off the bench. Green had 9 points in 16 minutes, Bass had 6 in 18.

That was about it for Boston.

Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan scored 24, Rudy Gay had 19 and Jonas Valanciunas added 18. The Raptors made 22 of 28 free throws and 12 of 21 from 3-point range.

In all, it wasn’t the sendoff that the Celtics were hoping for as they head into their first-round playoff matchup with the New York Knicks this weekend.

Fourth quarter, 5:50, Toronto, 107-74: Not much needs to be said. The Celtics are getting stomped out there. It's not the way they want to go into the playoffs but they haven't cared about regular season games for a while now.

End of the third quarter, Toronto 96-70: Yeah, not the finest hour for the Celtics. They're getting run out of the building here. The Raptors scored 37 points in the third quarter, which ties for the second-most points that the Celtics have allowed in any quarter this season. (They gave up 41 in the second quarter to Miami on April 12.) Fab Melo checked into the game and picked up four fouls in three minutes. Enough said.

Third quarter, 9:26, Toronto 72-51: The Raptors are on a 13-0 run and have outscored the Celtics 13-2 since the second half began. Toronto is shooting 8 of 12 from deep. Considering the stakes, I don't think the Celtics are going to claw and fight to try to come back from this deficit.

Halftime: Toronto 59-49: Again, with the free throws. The Raptors have made 16 of 18, Boston has made 3 of 5. Rudy Gay has 15 points and Jonas Valanciunas has scored 13. The Celtics have two double-digit scorers: Paul Pierce (11) and Avery Bradley (11). The Raptors used a 13-2 run to take a 46-37 lead with 6:22 in the second quarter. Jordan Crawford has scored

Second quarter, 5:44, Toronto 46-39: Paul Pierce IS back in the game. Doc Rivers said before the game that Pierce wants to play because...well, he just wants to play. The difference in this game is the free throw line: Toronto has made 12/14, Boston has made 3/4. That's all you need to know.

End of the first quarter: Toronto, 31-30: Jordan Crawford sank a deep, buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the quarter, and that's why the margin is what it is. Pierce has made 4 of 5 shots and has 9 points. Rudy Gay has 12. The Celtics are shooting 54.5 percent (12/22), the Raptors are shooting 45.5 percent (10/22). Boston has put several of its back-ups in early -- D.J. White, Shavlik Randolph, Terrence Williams. I don't think we'll see too much more of Pierce, Jeff Green or Brandon Bass.

First quarter, 5:52, Toronto, 17-15: That Valanciunas character has 7 points. See, I told you. Pierce has 5. Both teams trying to get into a rhythm.

First quarter, 8:50, Toronto 11-9: The Celtics are sitting Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to rest, and Paul Pierce, who has been sick all week, is playing limited minutes, as are Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. So, you can't really take much away from this game. But the Celtics have been playing some zone defense, a rare look. Keep an eye on Jonas Valanciunas. He's looking strong early.

Welcome to Air Canada Centre in Toronto for Celtics-Raptors

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 04:46 PM

TORONTO -- The Celtics will play their 81st and final regular-season game of 2012-13 at Air Canada Centre here Wednesday night, facing off against the Toronto Raptors. It will be Boston's first game since the tragic bombings Monday at the Boston Marathon that led the NBA to cancel the Celtics' Tuesday game at TD Garden against the Indiana Pacers.

The Celtics are expected to wear commemorative patches in reverence to those who lost their lives or were injured in the bombings. After the game, the Celtics will stay the night and leave Thursday afternoon for New York, where they face their first-round playoff opponent, the Knicks, in Game 1 likely on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

It's unclear if Doc Rivers will play Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the final game together, but there is a chance because the team isn't playing on the second night of a back-to-back, as it would have been had it played the Indiana game on Tuesday.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (41-39)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Paul Pierce
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

TORONTO RAPTORS (33-48)
PG Kyle Lowery
G DeMar DeRozan
SF Rudy Gay
PF Amir Johnson
C Jonas Valanciunas

Officials: Ed Malloy Tony Brown Scott Twardoski

TV, radio: 8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, ESPN Radio (850).

Pregame notes:

• The Celtics will be going for a four-game sweep of Toronto, having won the previous three matchups by an average of 15.3 points. Boston has won 20 of 24 against Toronto. The two teams have split the last six games in Canada.

• Toronto has won four straight and six of seven.

• The Toronto Raptors will reportedly play “Sweet Caroline” during the pre-game introduction of the Boston Celtics players. Then both teams -- coaches and players -- will huddle at center court for a moment of silence.

Doc Rivers: 'I was on my way, actually ... when the bomb exploded.'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 01:14 PM

WALTHAM -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers lives just blocks from where two bombs exploded Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 100 people.

"I always go down after practice and watch -- I’ve done it every year that we’ve been in town, because I live literally two blocks from the finish line," Rivers said before practice Tuesday.

"I was on my way, actually -- I had just gotten out of the tunnel -- when the bomb exploded. It’s just awful. It takes the joy out of sports -- because that’s what sports is supposed to bring is joy.

"You just saw the people running and the ambulances, just everything. It was hysteria."

He turned on the radio to learn what happened. With roads blocked off, Rivers estimated that it took him more than an hour to travel five blocks and get home.

"I just got a million texts," he said. "But again, my phone wasn’t working. On a lighter note, I’m not the best at returning texts anyways. Last night, my kids laughed, because I actually did. They knew.

"My daughter especially -- now I know who’s going to take care of me -- my daughter, I think she called or texted me like 16 times in a row. But I couldn’t -- you couldn’t get to them. Finally when I did, everything was good."

Rivers was told not to leave his building, but he watched from a window.

"You could see people wandering around, like the park -- a lot of people didn’t have places to go last night," he said. "And the park, there was a lot of people, you felt like -- the Common -- you could feel that, that they didn’t have anywhere to go. That was where a lot of people went. I had a bird’s-eye view of that."

More than anything, Rivers said, he was encouraged by what he saw.

"Being in the city, the one thing I will say, you’re just really proud to be part of Boston," he said. "I saw people who didn’t work for the police or anything like that, directing traffic, showing people where to go.

"I just thought the spirit of Boston was phenomenal last night. In a tragic event, it either separates you or brings you together. It clearly brought the city of Boston together, which was awesome.

"The city has responded. The city, it was awesome, watching people help people. I’m driving and I can see people helping people walk, helping go to the right places. This city has an amazing amount of spirit and I think that showed last night. And today still.

"Then you’re angry, too. I think that starts now. You really are. When you keep thinking about it. It does make you very angry at what happened. And that’s because you love the city, and love where you’re at. So that bothers you."

Is it tough to move on, to move it out of your mind? Of course, Rivers said.

"I don’t think you should get it out of your mind," he said. "I don’t think anyone’s going to get it out of their mind, it will be on your minds. Whether you were in the city or out of the city, you’re part of Boston. And if you’re part of this city -- or this country, for that matter -- it’s something that will be on your mind. And that’s fine.

"You put things in compartments, and that’ll happen for this hour and a half of practice. But it was a sad day yesterday, and it’s sad today, too. That’s part of life."

Rivers said it's important to return to a sense of normalcy.

"That’s what our city wants," he said. "I think that you can hear the police commissioner today talking about that. We want to return things as soon as possible back to normal because that tells whoever did this that you don’t stop the spirit of Boston.

"We are going to be back, we’re going to work the same, we’re going to play the same, we’re going to do things the same, and there's nothing you can do to stop us from doing this.

"Next year, the Marathon will be bigger and better, and you’re not going to stop us, and I thought, of all the messages, the police commissioner said that and I think that’s a fact."

Celtics react to deadly bombing in Boston

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 12:55 PM

WALTHAM -- With heavy hearts, the Celtics gathered here Tuesday to practice. They were supposed to be preparing for a game against Indiana at TD Garden, but that game was canceled in light of the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday.

The NBA office had the final say about whether to cancel the game, and it announced the decision Monday night. Celtics president Rich Gotham said, from the team's perspective, the cancellation was not about public fear but "it was more a feeling about what's the right thing to do in this situation."

Said coach Doc Rivers: "I didn’t want to play the game. We made that clear -- Rich and [owner] Wyc [Grousbeck] and our ownership, they were great. It wasn’t the right place, it really wasn’t, to be playing a game of basketball today. No one would have been into it. No one wanted to go to it."

Gotham said the Celtics are working on a commemorative patch to wear for their final regular-season game Wednesday in Toronto. Gotham added that the Celtics are working on a more extensive patch for the playoffs, which begin Saturday in New York as the Celtics play the Knicks in Game 1 of the first round at Madison Square Garden.

Gotham said Celtics management has not yet sat down with TD Garden officials to discuss increasing security for the playoffs, "but that's certainly something we'll be doing along with the Garden, and along with the City of Boston and the police."

Among the players, Tuesday was a time for reflection and perspective.

Forward Jeff Green lives downtown -- he's the only Celtics player who does, he said -- and he was on his way home when he received several text messages. "Then when I got home, I saw it on the news," he said. "That's when it really hit home."

Green said it was "absolutely" right to cancel Tuesday's game and that it's hard to focus on basketball at a time like this.

"I mean, you're talking about people's lives in danger," he said.
"Compared to somebody's life, basketball is nothing. We just want to make sure everybody's safe and do the right thing."

"It really sets in, because any one of us could’ve been driving through that area," said forward Shavlik Randolph. "I even thought about going and watching [the race]. I haven’t spent a lot of time up in Boston, and knowing how big of a deal that marathon was ...

"It could’ve been any one of us to be one of the people that got injured or hurt in that."

Green added, "This is a strong city. I think we're going to do everything possible to help the victims and families and help the city come back and get back to the way it was. It's going to be tough, because I don't think the city really had anything like this happen before.

"Whatever we can do, whatever I can do, I'm willing to help, because it's a tough thing to get through."

Celtics-Pacers game scheduled for Tuesday canceled

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 15, 2013 08:21 PM

The NBA announced Monday night that in light of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon, that Tuesday's scheduled game between the Celtics and Indiana Pacers at TD Garden has been canceled.

Since the season concludes Wednesday with both teams in action, there will be no makeup date and both teams will finish with 81 games played. The game was scheduled for 8 p.m. and was to be televised nationally by Turner Network Television. It is uncertain when the Celtics will travel to Toronto for Wednesday's season finale.

The first two games of the scheduled first-round playoff series with the New York Knicks are set for Madison Square Garden, so it's likely the Celtics won't play at home until next weekend at the earliest.

The Bruins postponed their scheduled Monday night game with the Ottawa Senators. The Indiana Pacers had a practice scheduled Monday afternoon for Emerson College, but coaches canceled the session on Sunday evening.

According to a Pacers team official, the team is seeking planes to potentially leave Boston later Monday, but is more likely to fly back to Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Tuesday's Celtics-Pacers game at TD Garden called off

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 15, 2013 06:26 PM

NOTE: Updated from earlier versions.

In light of the deadly bombings that occurred Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the NBA has canceled Tuesday's Celtics-Pacers game.

Tip-off was set for 8 p.m.

The National Hockey League postponed Monday's Bruins-Senators game at the Garden that was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The Bruins game will be rescheduled.

Courtney Lee starting to find his rhythm -- finally

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 07:52 PM

Courtney Lee laughed. He had scored in double figures for consecutive games for the first time in a month. He admitted he was finally starting to find a rhythm.

“It took all year to come, but I’m glad it’s here,” the Celtics guard said after pouring in a game-high and season-high tying 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting in Boston’s 120-88 win Saturday in Orlando.

Lee also scored 18 against Friday against the Heat – 13 coming in the fourth quarter.

“You see the ball go in a couple times, you get confidence, you get comfortable, especially how we’ve been playing,” Lee said, citing the last two Celtics games.

“The ball has been moving, we’ve been sharing and hitting open guys. It’s definitely fun to play this way and it definitely feels good to play this way.”

Lee is averaging 7.8 points per game this season.

Celtics will play the Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 14, 2013 06:13 PM

Start spreading the news. The Celtics will play the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, which start Saturday. New York clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference by virtue of a 90-80 win over Indiana Sunday afternoon. The Celtics are locked into the No, 7 seed. This should be a lot of fun.

From 2001 to 2011, the Celtics were 18-4 at Madison Square Garden. Since then they are 1-3.

Final: Celtics 120, Magic 88

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 07:17 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There's nothing like slapping around an inferior opponent for four quarters to boost the confidence of a team that needed a strong dose. The Celtics pounded the Magic, 120-88, Saturday at Amway Center to snap a two-game losing streak and clinch the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference standings, likely setting up a first-round playoff series with Atlantic Division rival New York.

All five Boston starters scored in double figures and the team led from start to finish and by as much as 37 points. The 120 points Boston scored was a season-high, topping its previous high of 118. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned from one-game absences and each played well. Garnett had 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes. He added nine rebounds. Pierce scored 12 points and added eight assists and six rebounds.

The Celtics shot 48 of 81 (59 percent) from the floor. Courtney Lee scored 20 off the bench and Jordan Crawford added 16. Brandon Bass scored 14 and Avery Bradley added 14.

The Magic didn't produce much in the way of resistance. Tobias Harris scored 22 and Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Outside of those two, any nice-looking stats that Orlando had in their box score were earned during garbage time.

The Celtics return to Boston tomorrow and have two regular season games left: Tuesday against Indiana and Wednesday at Toronto.

Fourth quarter, 7:19, Boston 101-70: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are on the bench and it's highly doubtful that either will play anymore in this one. The Celtics have been on a 16-6 run to open this quarter, where they've hit five of eight shots and three of four from 3-point range. They now have seven players in double figures. This is the kind of bounce-back, all-around win the Celtics needed after two straight losses.

End of the third quarter, Boston 85-64: Barring a huge comeback, we're just about done here -- even with a quarter to go. The Celtics are on fire, hitting 56.5 percent of their shots (35 of 62) and they have six players who have scored in double figures, including three who have 14 points (Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley). Orlando is shooting 38.2 percent (26 of 68) and is led by Tobias Harris' 22 points. Nikola Vucevic has a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. A reminder: A Celtics win will clinch the Eastern Conference's seventh seed in the playoffs with a win.

Third quarter, 4:23, Boston 77-52: More of the same. The Celtics have have hit 8 of 12 shots this quarter, including two of three from 3-point range. All five Boston starters have scored in double figures. The Celtics have 18 assists on 33 made baskets.

Third quarter, 8:34, Boston 65-43: The Celtics are picking up where they left off. They have four players in double figures and have led by as much as 26 points. Kevin Garnett has looked very good, with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 15 minutes.

Halftime: Boston 57-37: Brandon Bass earned a put-back dunk to end the half, a nice punctuation mark to cap a strong first half for the Celtics. Granted, the Magic are "terrible," as Jason Terry so eloquently put it. Boston used a 15-0 run to take a 18-point lead. Orlando answered that run with a 5-0 spurt, and then the Celtics re-established control. Three Celtics have 10 points (Bass, Jeff Green and Paul Pierce). Kevin Garnett and Jordan Crawford have each scored 8. The Celtics are shooting 53.3 percent (24 of 45 from the floor) and Orlando is shooting 32.7 percent (16 of 49). Maurice Harkless has a team-high 8 points for the Magic.

Second quarter, 6:42, Boston 39-21: The Celtics are on a 15-0 run, largely behind up-tempo play mixed with a lot of ball movement. We obviously haven't seen a lot of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jeff Green on the court at the same time, but the trio is looking effective tonight.

Second quarter, 8:28, Boston 33-21: Kevin Garnett has looked strong, with 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting with 4 rebounds. He's running the floor well, except on that last play when he got out in front a fast-break and turned the ball over. Chris Wilcox, who is now the second big man off Boston's bench behind Shavlik Randolph, has six early rebounds. Maurice Harkless has 8 points for Orlando.

End of the first quarter, Boston 23-17: After jumping out to a 9-0 lead, the Celtics let up and allowed Orlando to get back into the game, in part because the Celtics were sloppy. Avery Bradley has four turnovers, and the Celtics have six all told. Nikola Vucevic has 6 points and 5 rebounds and could be on his way to a huge night for the Magic. Brandon Bass has hit all four of his shots and has a team-high 8 points.

First quarter: 4:30, Boston 16-8: Orlando started to find a little rhythm when the Celtics took Kevin Garnett out of the game. Brandon Bass' jumper is looking solid, once again. The Celtics are really trying to run and Avery Bradley is pushing the tempo. Nikola Vucevic is a load down low and the Celtics will have trouble stopping him again. He's starting to pile up the rebounds and has four already.

First quarter, 9:00, Boston 9-0: Jeff Green scored the Celtics' first five points, a good sign after plenty of criticism about whether he could perform with Kevin Garnett on the floor at the same time. It's early, but already Orlando looks to be in a lot of trouble.

Doc Rivers on Kobe Bryant: He'll be missed

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 06:45 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Like countless others, Celtics coach Doc Rivers is emotionally shaken by the season-ending torn left Achilles tendon that Lakers star Kobe Bryant suffered Friday.

"That was awful to watch. It really was," Rivers said here Saturday before his team faced the Magic. "Listen, my players are my favorite, but if I had another one, it would be Kobe.

Rivers continued, "I just love his heart and his toughness. Heck, I love the fact that he got up and made two free throws a torn Achilles. I would’ve been laying on the floor, crying like a baby. He is as tough a competitor that we’ve seen. Ever. He’ll be missed."

The 35-year-old Bryant was scheduled to have surgery Saturday and he's expected to be out 6 to 9 months, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti told reporters.

"I wouldn’t bet against him coming back and being great. I will tell you that," Rivers said. "Kobe, if he wants to come back and be great, he’ll be that."

Welcome to Amway Center for Celtics-Magic

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 03:29 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will return to the Celtics lineup Saturday night as they face an Orlando team that Jason Terry (accurately) described as "terrible" after Boston's loss Friday at Miami.

"I don’t know how many games we’ll play them," Doc Rivers said before the game of Garnett and Pierce. "I’m not looking for anything from them. I just think they need to play. They need to play a game here and there to get ready for the playoffs."

Rivers added that Pierce and Garnett would likely sit out one of the Celtics final two games, which fall on consecutive days.

Oh, and the 35-year-old Terry will miss his first game of the season to rest, though Rivers quipped, "He ran his mouth, so we’ve decided we’re going to bench him."

The Celtics have lost two straight and need a win to clinch the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings, which would likely guarantee a first-round matchup against New York. The Celtics can also clinch that spot with a Milwaukee loss; the Bucks play at Charlotte tonight.

Jeff Green is also expected to play after suffering a bruised left elbow Friday.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (40-39)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Paul Pierce
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

ORLANDO MAGIC (20-59)
PG Beno Udrih
SG E'Twaun Moore
SF Maurice Harkless
PF Tobias Harris
C Nikola Vucevic

Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Kevin Scott, Zach Zarba

TV, radio: 7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• The Magic haven’t won consecutive games since taking four straight Dec. 14-19. Since then Orlando is 8-46. The Magic own the second-worst record in both the Eastern Conference and the NBA, two games behind Charlotte.

• Nikola Vucevic had 30 points and 20 rebounds Wednesday in an overtime win against Milwaukee. It was his second consecutive game with at least 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds.

• The Celtics have won both regular-season meetings this season with Orlando and have taken seven in a row against the Magic. Only two of those seven straight wins came in Orlando.

• Boston finishes the season with a home game against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, then a trip to Toronto on Wednesday.

Celtics' Green leaves game with bruised left elbow

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 12, 2013 09:46 PM

MIAMI -- As if the Celtics needed any more injury issues, forward Jeff Green left the Celtics game against the Miami Heat with a bruised left elbow, sustained when he fell awkwardly after one of his tomahawk dunks. The injury did not appear to be serious and he walked to the locker room with four minutes left. He finished with 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting.

Updates from Celtics-Heat

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 12, 2013 07:42 PM

Fourth quarter, 2:11, Heat 106-92: The Celtics fought for as long as they could but Miami is just too good when it is allowed to score at will. The Heat are still shooting 55.1 percent and five players have scored in double figures. Jeff Green left the game with a bruised left elbow after falling following a dunk.

Fourth quarter, 7:50, Heat 94-79: The Celtics are trying to stay close but they are getting pounded defensively and Jeff Green is the only offensive scoring threat. He has 25 while Jordan Crawford has 20 and Brandon Bass has 14. Rashard Lewis is going old Sonics on the Celtics with 19 and three 3-pointers.

End of third quarter, Heat 87-75: The Heat are 26-for-36 shooting since the first quarter and keep hitting 3-pointers to keep the Celtics at bay. This time Rashard Lewis hit two near the end of the third quarter after the Celtics cut the Miami lead to 8. Jeff Green has 23 points for the Celtics.

Third quarter. 3:25, Heat 77-67: The Celtics are hanging close, despite Miami shooting 70.9 percent from the field since the first quarter. The Heat have maintained their lead with seven 3-pointers while the Celtics have had trouble scoring since a 27-point first quarter. Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford and Brandon Bass are a combined 19-for-31 shooting. The rest of the Celtics: 7-for-26.

Third quarter. 7:06, Heat 72-60: The Celtics cut the deficit to 5 before a 7-0 Miami run and now the Celtics are back where they started. Jordan Crawford has 20 points in 23 minutes but the Celtics are 4-for-14 from the 3-point while the Heat are 6-for-13. LeBron James has 16 points, all seven of his field goals have been at the rim.

Halftime, Heat 58-50: Well that quarter is over and the Celtics have to be relieved. The Heat had to set some type of record in that quarter for shooting, hitting 16 of 19 shots (84.2 percent) and scoring 41 points after 17 in the first quarter. The good news for the Celtics is there is no way the Heat could repeat that number, right? LeBron James has 14 points, five of those on dunks. Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green lead the Celtics with 12.

Second quarter, 5:37, Tied at 38: Just like that, the Heat put up 21 points on the Celtics in 6:23 after scoring 17 all of the first quarter. The Heat got back into the game with an 11-0 run while the Celtics are having more issues scoring and are missing shots. They are 4 of 10 from the field in the second quarter.

Second quarter, 8:53, Celtics 34-28: Ray Allen is on a personal 5-0 run and Doc Rivers calls timeout after Allen hits an open 3-pointer from the corner. The Celtics have seen that many times before. The Celtics are shooting 52 percent but have to avoid the turnovers and empty possessions to keep this game close. Allen has 6 points as does Rashard Lewis.

End of first quarter, Celtics 27-17: The Celtics shoot 50 percent in the first quarter and play a free-wheeling style that is fitting their shorthanded lineup. Jeff Green has 8 points, including two thunderous hammer dunks while LeBron James has 8 for the Heat. Dwyane Wade did not score, going 0-for-3 shooting.

First quarter, 5:24, Celtics 15-11: LeBron James already has three dunks and is lone Heat player playing with any passion. Doc Rivers called a timeout after Chris Bosh was left wide open in the paint for a dunk. The Heat are 5-for-13 shooting and James already has four field goals. The Celtics are 5-for-11.

First quarter, 7:00, Celtics 13-5: It's crazy that the Celtics are playing with their bench guys but have yet to trail. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead thanks to baskets from Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford. LeBron James has 4 of Miami's points. Avery Bradley just extended the lead with a 3-pointer.

Welcome to AmericanAirlines Arena

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 12, 2013 05:50 PM

MIAMI -- The Celtics will enter tonight's game needing one victory to clinch the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race but they will be hard pressed to get a victory under these circumstances. They will be without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett while Miami coach Erik Spoelstra announced that the Heat will play all of their Big Three, meaning it could get ugly early.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (40-38)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Chris Wilcox

MIAMI HEAT (62-16)
PG Mario Chalmers
SG Dwyane Wade
SF Mike Miller
PF LeBron James
C Chris Bosh

Officials: James Capers, Mark Lindsay, Sean Wright

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, NBA TV, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are expected to play Saturday against the Orlando Magic, when their chances are much better to secure the seventh seed. Both are resting sore ankles

• For the Heat, Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier will not play to rest various ailments. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have played together just twice in the past three weeks but James said they don't need much more time on the floor together before the playoffs.

• James also added that he and his teammates would like to know their first-round playoff opponent as quickly as possible so they can begin scouting. The Heat are 4-0 this season against the Milwaukee Bucks and 2-1 against the Celtics entering tonight.

• With Pierce out, Courtney Lee gets back in the starting lineup along with Chris Wilcox to replace Garnett.

• In three games this season against the Heat and only one start, Jeff Green is averaging 19 points. 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. He will need another big game for the Celtics to have a shot tonight.

Miami's Big Three will play vs. Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 12, 2013 01:43 PM

MIAMI – Unfortunately for Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Miami counterpart Erik Spoelstra is not resting his starters for tonight's clash between the Celtics and Heat.

Spoelstra said all of his Big Three will play tonight with Dwyane Wade will return after a six-game absence to rest his right knee, LeBron James will play after missing three of the past five games to rest sore hamstrings while Chris Bosh will return after a three-game break to rest his knees.

Spoelstra said Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier will not play for rest purposes. For the Celtics, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will not play and did not appear at the media portion of shootaround. The Celtics need one win or a Milwaukee Bucks loss to clinch the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

It will be the first game James has played against the Celtics since president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said it was "almost embarrassing" for James to complain about officiating and Heat president responded to Ainge but telling him to "shut the (expletive) up."

Rajon Rondo makes first public comments since season-ending injury

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 11, 2013 05:24 PM

MIAMI -- All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo made his first public comments since his season-ending knee injury suffered Jan. 25 in Atlanta.

Rondo, in an interview with ESPN’s Hannah Storm that aired Wednesday night, explained that he was ready to play Jan. 27 against Miami but that something didn’t feel right roughly 30 minutes before tip-off. He then went to a hospital to get an MRI.

“On the way back I heard on the radio, they were like, ‘Rondo might have a torn ACL,’” Rondo said. “I’m like, ‘How?’ I’m like, ‘We just got the results, there’s no way possible.’”

Of the injury itself, Rondo said he jumped and made a pass. “I didn’t hear it 'pop.' I just thought when I came down, I came down too early and hyperextended my leg, but I thought I could play through it. I didn’t know it was a season-ending injury.”

The All-Star point guard said he has no timetable for a return, though the Celtics have said they expect him to be ready by training camp.

“When I got out of surgery, for three or four weeks nobody said anything about when I’ll be back or when I’ll be able to play,” he said. “They just want me to take it one week at a time and see how I progress from there.

“Everybody’s body is different. Some play a different sport, everybody plays the game (of basketball) differently, so I think an injury like this varies.”

Rondo said he is “in a place where I’m okay with it. I know this is my main focus: just getting healthy.”

There has been a lot of chatter about how the Celtics will play when their ball-dominating guard returns. With him out, they reverted to an up-tempo, share-the-ball scheme, one that helped result in seven straight wins after his injury.

“I just try not to listen too much into it,” Rondo said. “I’m still talking to Danny (Ainge) weekly and Doc all the time. At the same time, I was happy for my teammates. We were winning. I wanted to make the playoffs because I think we were under .500 or right at .500 at the time, so I definitely wouldn’t be rooting against my team.

“And like I said earlier, those guys are like my brothers. So I wished them well. No big deal. I wasn’t jealous or buying into people saying they are better without me. If they are, they are, but for the most part, I’m still a Celtic.”

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett out Friday vs. Heat

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 11, 2013 01:33 PM
MIAMI – Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce took the trip with the Celtics to Miami, but as promised, coach Doc Rivers announced neither would play Friday against the Miami Heat to rest sore ankles.

Knowing he may make this decision, Rivers asked reporters after Wednesday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets whether the Heat-Celtics game would be nationally televised. When told the game would be on NBA TV, Rivers shook his head and smiled.

It is uncertain whether Garnett or Pierce will play Saturday at Orlando, but the Celtics need one more win to clinch the seventh seed, and that is their most winnable game.

As for the Heat, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Udonis Haslem sat out Wednesday's win over the Washington Wizards to rest. It is uncertain if any of those four will play against the Celtics. The Heat have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Rivers admitted the Celtics wanted to play the Heat in the playoffs, but not the first round, so expect Garnett and Pierce to play in at least one of the final three games.

With playoffs looming, lack of offense the biggest concern for the Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 11, 2013 07:47 AM

pierceoffenselack.jpg

We've heard since forever that defense wins championships. Stout defense was the foundation of Boston's last title, in 2008. Anchored by Kevin Garnett, Tony Allen, and Kendrick Perkins, that team held opponents to 90.3 points per game, good for second in the league. Boston's defensive rating of 98.3 points/100 possessions was tops in the NBA. Defense absolutely won the Celtics that title.

But the 2007-08 Celtics could score a little bit, too. They were 10th in the league in offensive rating. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were Hall of Fame-level offensive players in the primes of their careers, James Posey and Eddie House professional scorers off the bench. The contrast between that team and recent Celtics teams is striking.

With just 10 days remaining until the start of the playoffs, offense remains the Celtics' biggest concern. They scored 93 points in Wednesday night's 101-93 loss to the Nets at TD Garden. They didn't take a free throw in the first half. Doc Rivers said after the game that the Nets were the clear aggressors.

"I thought Jeff [Green] got fouled the one drive," said Rivers. "Other than that I honestly didn’t think there was another foul they should’ve called."

This problem isn't a new one. The Celtics improved their offensive rating to 6th in the league in 2008-09 before losing Garnett to an injury before the playoffs. That was the last time they ranked near the top of the league in terms of scoring. The offense has been on a slow, steady decline since, ranking 15th, 18th, and 27th in the NBA in consecutive seasons.

Of the eight Eastern Conference playoff teams this season, the Celtics rank last in offensive rating, coming in at 25th in the league scoring 102.8 points/100 possessions. Brooklyn, Wednesday night's opponent, scores at a clip good enough for 8th in the league (108.1 points/100 possessions). The Knicks, Boston's likely first-round playoff opponent, are third (111.2). A little upstart outfit out of Miami is second at 112.4. Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James have a lot to do with that.

The big question for these Celtics is who their leading scorer is going to be. Green is 7 of 25 from the field in the last two games playing with Garnett. Pierce was the Celtics' best weapon Wednesday night, the only Celtics starter to make more shots than he missed. Pierce ripped into his team at halftime, highlighting their lack of free throws and aggressiveness.

"You know I was really shocked when I saw that stat at the half," said Pierce. "It just shows you that we were a passive team. We settled for jumpers instead of attacking them, getting in the paint. They were aggressive all night and we sort of settled for jump shots."

While Pierce's heart has always been in the right place, he's not capable of carrying the Celtics by himself anymore. This isn't 2008, when he can put up 41 points against James and check the Cavs forward by himself on the other end. The Celtics have been settling for jump shots because they're often unable to create better looks. In this area more than any other, they miss Rajon Rondo.

Wednesday night provided glimpses of the problem. When Pierce got the ball on the block there was a lot of standing and watching by his teammates. Avery Bradley found foul trouble, but his replacements, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, combined for just 11 points in 50 minutes. At times Rivers rolled out a lineup of Green, Terry, Lee, Brandon Bass, and Shavlik Randolph, and you have to ask just where the offense is going to come from with a group like that.

As we've seen in recent years, writing the Celtics off for bad play before the playoffs is usually foolish. The team struggled last year before turning it on in the postseason. Last year's Celtics ranked two spots lower on offense, but many things fell their way on their run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls lost Derrick Rose and bowed out of the playoffs before the Celtics could face them. Al Horford missed the first three games of the Hawks series. Chris Bosh missed five games for the Heat. Winning without offense is an anomaly, not a trend.

I was reminded watching the dominance of the University of Connecticut's women's team Tuesday night that offensive efficiency really can be dominating too. The Huskies got to wherever they wanted to on the floor in scoring 93 points against Louisville. They shot 45 free throws in a 40-minute game. They played the efficient, devastating offense they've played in each of their eight national championship wins. Defense wins championships, but offense can win them, too.

If you're looking for a glimmer of hope, the Celtics' new "big-small" lineup may be reason for optimism. The Celtics rarely roll out a true center (Randolph is really the only one), but the lineup of Bradley, Pierce, Green, Bass, and Garnett provides size problems for other teams at the shooting guard and small forward positions. It's a lineup Rivers has barely tested, and it has the potential to be effective.

Whether or not it can be effective enough to outscore Anthony and the Knicks in a seven-game series remains to be seen.

Final: Nets 101, Celtics 93

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 10, 2013 08:15 PM

Final: Nets 101-93: The Celtics made a run near the end of garbage time but the game wasn't this close. The Nets dominated the Celtics with an impressive performance as Deron Williams finished with 29 points and 12 assists. He is going to be hard to stop in the playoffs. Paul Pierce led Boston with 23 but no other Celtic scored more than 11 points. Pierce was on an island tonight.

Fourth quarter, 2:48, Nets 101-82: This one's over. The Celtics have nothing left to offer the Nets. They can't stop Brooklyn from scoring, especially the blazing Deron Williams, who has 29 points, and besides Paul Pierce, the Celtics are 26-for-66 from the field tonight/

Fourth quarter, 5:17, Nets 93-82: The Celtics are trying valiantly to rally but they can't put together enough scoring possessions and then defensive stops. Deron Williams just hit a jumper in the face of Jordan Crawford for his 25th point on 8-for-17 shooting with 12 assists and 4 rebounds. Paul Pierce has 23 points but no other Celtic has more than 11.

Fourth quarter, 8:49, Nets 85-75: Kevin Garnett is giving the Celtics some spark but they are going to need some buckets and defensive stops to make this interesting. Garnett has 9 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes. The Nets are staying ahead at the free throw line, having attempted 20 to the Celtics' 12. Kris Humphries has 6 points off the bench.

End of third quarter, Nets 79-69: The Celtics are putting up a fight but the Nets are so balanced it's difficult to stop all their weapons. Deron Williams and Brook Lopez have 19 and Joe Johnson 18 on a combined 21-for-40 shooting. That's all Brooklyn has needed so far. The Celtics are led by Paul Pierce's 23 points but no other Celtic has more than 10 (Jeff Green). Kevin Garnett has 6 points in 21 minutes.

Third quarter, 4:40, Nets 68-54: The Celtics can't stop the Nets, who are 20 for their past 33 from the field, while Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green continue to struggle. The only good news is that Paul Pierce is starting to get to the free throw line. He has a team-high 17 points while Brandon Bass has 10 but 2 since the first quarter.

Halftime, Nets 53-43: A pretty even first half has turned lopsided as Brooklyn went on a 15-4 run to end the half. The Celtics' defense has been shaky at best as the Nets are 6-for-11 beyond the arc and the combination of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams have 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting. The Celtics are struggling to score in the paint as the combination of Jeff Green and Kevin Garnett are 2-for-13 shooting with 5 points.

Second quarter, 2:34, Nets 44-39: Brooklyn on a 6-0 run as it is beginning to point the ball inside with Brandon Bass playing center for the Celtics. Brook Lopez finish made a hook shot while Deron Williams preceded that with a runner. The Nets are shooting 50 percent while the Celtics are 18-for-39 shooting but Jeff Green is already 1-for-7 with just one rebound in 14 minutes.

Second quarter, 4:58, Celtics 37-35: As expected, the game is beginning to get a little chippy now that Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche are facing off. The bench has given the Celtics a lift, including 10 combined points from Chris Wilcox and Jordan Crawford. Brandon Bass just returned to the game after 8 first-quarter points.

Second quarter, 9:09, Nets 31-27: The Nets have decided to show up and now are playing well with C.J. Watson draining three 3-pointers off the bench in six minutes. Deron Williams also has 8 points. Brandon Bass continues his streaky play with 8 points. But besides he and Paul Pierce, the Celtics are 6-for-21 shooting so far. Jeff Green is 1 of 6.

End of first quarter, Nets 22-21: The Celtics actually led by 8 and 7 points in this quarter but the Nets responded with a 10-0 run, keyed by two C.J. Watson 3-pointers, and now lead after a rough-shooting first quarter. Jason Terry ended the quarter with a floater but the Celtics are just 9-for-23 shooting after a strong start. Kevin Garnett went scoreless in six minutes.

First quarter, 2:53, Celtics 19-16: The Nets are waking up a little with 7 points from Joe Johnson and a rebound dunk from Gerald Wallace. The Nets are still 5-for-14 shooting but trail by only 3 because they have attempt six free throws. The Celtics have yet to attempt a free throw and have been whistled for four fouls compared to one for Brooklyn.

First quarter, 6:22, Celtics 13-7: The Celtics are 3 of 4 from the 3-point line with two of those converted by Paul Pierce. Jeff Green has the other. Kevin Garnett has missed all four shots, including three layups. The Nets are slow out of the game, going 2-for-8 shooting so far with four turnovers. The Celtics have yet to commit a turnover.

First quarter, 8:16, Celtics 7-5: The Nets are off to a slow start, missing six of their first seven shots. The Celtics have been helped by an early 3-pointer from Paul Pierce, but Kevin Garnett is 0-for-3 shooting, missing two layups on the same possession. Avery Bradley has just picked up his second foul.

Celtics, MCCA will discuss application for All-Star Game

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 8, 2013 03:14 PM

Next year will be the 50th anniversary since the city of Boston hosted an NBA All-Star Game and there has been very little movement over the past several years on that front. With a shortage of NBA cities applying for All-Star Games because of the cost, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told the Globe the club is considering filing an application.

Grousbeck said he had a conversation with Jim Rooney, the executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority about taking steps in the process.

"I spoke to Jim Rooney casually the other day about it," Grousbeck said. "And we've agreed it's something worth looking at."

There is a concern the NBA would not award an All-Star Game to a cold-weather city. The past five games have been in Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles, Orlando and Houston while the 2014 game will be in New Orleans. The NBA has not held an All-Star Game in the northeast region since Philadelphia in 2002.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver confirmed at February's All-Star Weekend in Houston that either Brooklyn (Barclays Center) or New York City (Madison Square Garden) will host the 2015 game.

Final: Celtics 107, Wizards 96

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 7, 2013 06:10 PM

Final: Celtics 107-96: A solid win over the Celtics against a team that had been playing well. Kevin Garnett returns after an eight-game absence with 12 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes. Brandon Bass continues his surge with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting while Paul Pierce added 15 and Chris Wilcox tallied 13. John Wall led the Wizards with 16 points but no free throws.

Fourth quarter, 1:35, Celtics 103-91: A Paul Pierce 3-pointer and Brandon Bass jumper appears to have put this one away. Pierce has 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting while Brandon Bass leads all scorers with 20 points on 9-for-12 from the field.

Fourth quarter, 3:58, Celtics 98-88: Once again the Celtics have slipped and the Wizards have kept playing hard, on an 8-2 run to make things more interesting. The Celtics have not been good this season at retaining large leads, especially at home. Kevin Garnett looked to be done for the night but he and Paul Pierce have returned to the game.

Fourth quarter, 8:20, Celtics 94-77: The Wizards began the quarter with a 6-2 run to draw to within 12 but the Celtics have scored the last 5, including a long 2-pointer from Kevin Garnett for his 10th point. Chris Wilcox has scored 11 points with four rebounds off the bench while Paul Pierce has 12 points on 4-for-12 shooting. John Wall leads Washington with 16.

End of third quarter, Celtics 87-71: Celtics go 12 of 16 from the field in the quarter and put 31 on the Wizards to extend the lead in what was a very precarious game. Shavlik Randolph has come off the bench yet again to spark the Celtics with 8 points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes. Brandon Bass leads the Celtics with 16. John Wall has 14.

Third quarter, 3:01, Celtics 77-65: The lead was 17 but A.J. Price hit a 3-pointer and then a floater, prompting Doc Rivers to call a timeout. Given the way the Celtics have blown big leads lately, they cannot take anything for granted. John Wall is stuck on 10 points but also has eight assists. Brandon Bass continues to play inspired ball with 14 and six rebounds.

Third quarter, 6:10, Celtics 70-58: A 12-1 run has created some distance as the Celtics are beginning to hit the boards and make shots. The scoring wealth has been spread among 10 players but Shavlik Randolph has 7 points and six rebounds off the bench. Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley each lead the Celtics with 10 points. Trevor Ariza has 12 for Washington.

Halftime, Celtics 56-52: An uneven first half for the Celtics, who led most of the way but couldn't put enough good defensive possessions together to build a nice lead. Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox each have 8 points while Paul Pierce has 7 on 2-for-9 shooting. Kevin Garnett played 11 first-half minutes and scored 4 points with two rebounds. Trevor Ariza scored all 12 of his points in the second quarter while John Wall helped out with 10.

Second quarter, 2:31, Celtics 50-45: Trevor Ariza is keeping the Wizards close with all 10 of his points in the second quarter, including two 3-pointers. The book on Ariza is to let him shoot from long range but he has made the Celtics pay so far. John Wall also has 10 points for Washington. Paul Pierce has 7 points for the Celtics on 2-for-7 shooting. Kevin Garnett has 4.

Second quarter, 5:42, Celtics 42-37: The Celtics are wasting chances to extend their lead with missed shots and poor offensive execution. Kevin Garnett just missed a layup and open jumper while Courtney Lee missed a 3-footer at the rim. Still, the Celtics are shooting 50 percent with just four turnovers. Ten Celtics have scored.

Second quarter, 8:36, Celtics 36-31: Against his old team, Jordan Crawford has come off the bench to score 4 points in three minutes as the Celtics attempt to build a lead. They are shooting 51.6 percent with just three turnovers. The Wizards are at 53.8 percent with seven turnovers.

End of first quarter, Celtics 28-27: The Celtics' defense needs to improve as the Wizards are 12 for 22 from the field with 12 points in the paint. John Wall, who scored 37 Saturday against Indiana, already has 10 on 5-for-7 shooting. The good news for the Celtics is Washington has yet to record an offensive rebound.

First quarter, 2:30, Wizards 23-22: The Celtics are hanging in there without much contribution so far from Kevin Garnett and just 4 points from Paul Pierce. John Wall has 6 points, two of those on open jumpers as the Celtics are not respecting his mid-range game.

First quarter, 6:10, Wizards 13-12: The Celtics are off to a solid offensive start, most notably Avery Bradley, who already has 6 points. But the Celtics are letting the Wizards have their way in the paint and they have points from all five starters. The Celtics are 5-for-11 shooting.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce active vs. Wizards

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 7, 2013 05:16 PM

The Celtics face yet another important game in their quest to reach sixth in the Eastern Conference and avoid a first-round matchup with the New York Knicks. They are two games behind the Atlanta Hawks with six games to play. They own the tiebreaker over the Hawks, who have four games left -- at Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Toronto and at New York. The Celtics end with Washington, Brooklyn, Miami, Orlando, Indiana and Toronto.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (39-37)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Paul Pierce
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

WASHINGTON WIZARDS (29-47)
PG John Wall
SG Garrett Temple
SF Martell Webster
PF Emeka Okafor
C Nene

Officials: Jason Phillips, Scott Twardoski, Leon Wood

TV, radio: 6 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each made it through Saturday's practice healthy and ready to go. Garnett will return after an eight-game absence with left ankle inflammation.

• Pierce missed Friday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers with a sprained right ankle but was back in the starting lineup.

• John Wall is averaging 23 points, 7.8 assists, 5 rebounds and 1.6 steals in his past 21 games and is one of three players -- along with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant -- averaging at least 23, 7 and 5 since March 1.

• Courtney Lee returns to the bench with Pierce returning to the starting lineup. Jeff Green was named a permanent starter on Thursday.

• Although the Celtics have won the previous two meetings, the two teams haven't met since Nov. 7 in Boston, a 100-94 overtime win for the Celtics. Wall did not play in either of the previous two meetings, prompting Rivers to declare he didn't show any previous game tapes to his players.

Kevin Garnett returns to practice, could play Sunday

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 12:53 PM

WALTHAM -- Celtics center Kevin Garnett returned to practice Saturday and could play Sunday against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. Garnett has missed the last eight games with inflammation in his left ankle.

"Obviously, rest is always a good thing for me," the 36-year-old Garnett said before joining his first full-contact practice in nearly two weeks. "I've been able to get multiple treatments a day on my foot. I'm getting better."

Garnett first tweaked his ankle March 20 at New Orleans.

"I have some issues with my foot," he said. "More from like the motion, if you’re pushing the gas pedal. It’s an issue. If it I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be out. But I am getting better. I’m going to practice and (Celtics coach) Doc (Rivers) and I will have a conversation and make some decisions for the future."

He added, "Everybody is dealing with their different ailments. I’m no different from that. Obviously as you get older, things tend to linger a little longer. I am getting stronger. I was able to heal up other things that was nagging me. But just my foot is an issue."

An issue that the Celtics have struggled with in Garnett's absence is defense, especially stopping opponents in the paint. But they haven't rushed him back because the team would rather have him healthy and rested for the postseason.

Rivers said, however, that it is important for Garnett to get some games in before the playoffs begin.

"It’s important to get him back on the floor, but if he’s not ready, he’s not ready," Rivers said. "I don’t know what the number of games is, everybody has their own thing with that, rhythm wise. Each individual player and I don’t what Kevin’s would be, but I do know he’s been out a while and the playoffs are soon.

"So the sooner he gets back on the floor, the better. And I would lean towards him, now, once he’s cleared health-wise, it’s probably better for him, even if he can’t play a lot of minutes, to play in games. Because no matter what we do in practice, practice will need duplicate a game. And it’s never going to be the same intensity."

Rivers did say that it takes time for Garnett to shake off the rust of sitting out.

"I’ve always said that," Rivers said. "Kevin’s a systematic player -- he’s like (Patrick) Ewing in a lot of ways, when I played with Patrick. Patrick was worse, if Patrick didn’t practice, he was going to be awful in the game. Kevin can not practice and still play. Patrick, it was amazing. Some guys and a lot of the great ones are that way, because they get in their routine. And once they get out of their routine, it takes them a little bit to get back into it."

Garnett said that his health comes first, but that getting into a rhythm is crucial for him.

"I want to come in and be able to contribute," he said. "I want to get as close to 100 percent as I can. I’ve never come into postseason 100 percent, so it’s nothing new. But I do want a rhythm. And these last couple games, obviously we’re playing for something. We’re trying to get things done as we’re out here playing."

In other injury news, Celtics forward Paul Pierce (right ankle) did practice and could play Sunday. Avery Bradley (bruised left collarbone) did not practice but should play Sunday.

Jordan Crawford on facing his former team: 'I don't recall playing for Washington'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 12:37 PM

WALTHAM -- Jordan Crawford will face his former team, the Washington Wizards, on Sunday at TD Garden.

"Who?" Crawford asked before practice Saturday when the issue was broached.

Washington, he was told. You'll be playing Washington. Your old team.

"I don't recall playing for Washington," Crawford responded -- and he used this line twice.

Crawford, who was traded to the Celtics at the Feb. 21 trade deadline, didn't exactly enjoy his time in Washington, as one might infer from his comments.

His stint in D.C. did end poorly. Crawford was upset about his sixth-man role, about being displaced by rookie Bradley Beal, and unsure why his role was shrinking on a club that was building for the future.

Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld summed it up after his club traded Crawford to the Celtics for the expiring contracts of Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins (and nothing else): “Jordan did not fit into our current plans . . . or our future plans.”

As for the difference between playing for his former team and the Celtics, Crawford said, "Just the seriousness it takes every day."

But does Crawford have something to prove to Washington?

"To who?" he asked.

Washington, the team you don't remember playing for.

"It's just another game," he said. "I want to come out, try to win the game."

Final: Cavaliers 97, Celtics 91

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 5, 2013 07:44 PM

Final: Cavaliers 97-91: Once upon a time the Celtics led this game 62-55 and looked ready to pull away. The Cavaliers responded with a 27-6 run and the Celtics never really recovered. They got to within 4 points but didn't score more 2:39 of the fourth quarter and had nothing left. Jeff Green finished with 23 points but the Celtics shot just 32.5 percent in the second half (14-for-43).

Fourth quarter, 39.7, Cavaliers 95-89: Celtics are clinging to life here, need a basket and a stop to make it interesting. They are shooting just 40.2 percent.

Fourth quarter, 3:18, Cavaliers 91-83: The Celtics haven't scored in more than two minutes while the Cavaliers have tallied 4. It's been a tough night for the Celtics in dealing with officials. They have been whistled for 23 personal fouls.

Fourth quarter, 5:44, Cavaliers 87-83: Just like that, the Celtics motivate and come back with a 15-5 run to make it interesting. They have hit five of their past eight shots and Jason Terry has hit a couple of 3-pointers. Jeff Green has 17 points for Boston and Shavlik Randolph scored a career-high 16 before fouling out.

Fourth quarter, 9:19, Cavaliers 82-68: It's ugly here at the Garden. The Celtics are 6-for-27 shooting in the second half and haven't scored in the quarter, going 0-for-5. Cleveland is playing like it wants desperately to end its 10-game losing streak and Kyrie Irving only has 9 points. The Cavaliers are being the Celtics up with contributions from many sources.

End of third quarter, Cavaliers 74-68: The Cavaliers end the quarter on a 19-6 run as the Celtics missed 16 of 22 shots in the quarter. Jordan Crawford is 1-for-10 shooting with 3 points. Tristan Thompson has 25 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland.

Third quarter, 1:56, Cavaliers 70-65: Cleveland is on a 15-3 run because Kyrie Irving has decided to start scoring and the Celtics can't stop Cleveland in transition. The Celtics are 5-for-16 shooting in the quarter and Jeff Green already has four fouls. Shavlik Randolph just picked up his fifth.

Third quarter, 8:07, Celtics 62-55: The Celtics are on a 5-0 run thanks to a 3-pointer from Avery Bradley, who has struggled from the field tonight. Jeff Green has saved the Celtics with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting with six rebounds. Brandon Bass has 12 points. Tristan Thompson has 21 points but has yet to score in the second half.

Halftime, Tied at 52: The Celtics have twice blown nice leads here, unable to corral Tristan Thompson, who has 21 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes. Most of those scores have been layups as the centerless Celtics struggle once again with a big man. Shavlik Randolph has 13 points in eight minutes but also has three fouls. Jeff Green and Brandon Bass also have 10 points.

Second quarter, 3:01, Celtics 46-44: The Celtics have coughed up a 37-29 lead because they cannot stop Tristan Thompson, who has 19 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes, scoring on everything around the basket. The Celtics are led by Shavlik Randolph's 13 points but the Cleveland run came the moment he checked out of the game.

Second quarter, 8:50, Celtics 37-31: It's the Shavlik Randolph-Jordan Crawford Show so far tonight. Randolph has 13 points, a career best, in eight minutes while Crawford has four assists in seven minutes. The Celtics continue to commit needless fouls but they are playing with better energy than the first quarter.

End of first quarter, Celtics 28-26: The Celtics are 2 of 8 from the free throw line, which typified a strange quarter in which Cleveland led by as many as 8 points. The Celtics made 13 of 21 shots but still found themselves in major foul trouble with Avery Bradley and Jeff Green each with two. Brandon Bass and Shavlik Randolph each have 6 points for the Celtics.

First quarter, 5:44, Cavaliers 17-14: The Cavaliers are playing with more consistency so far, hitting 53.8 percent from the field and getting buckets from all five starters. Kyrie Irving has assisted on four of Cleveland's seven baskets. The Celtics are 6-for-10 shooting so far.

First quarter, 7:17, Celtics 14-11: Jeff Green just picked up his second foul, which could be a big factor. Terrence Williams is checking in to replace him. Tristan Thompson already has 7 points for Cleveland while Kyrie Irving has attempted one shot. No a good sign for the Celtics because Irving will get going soon.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Cavaliers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 5, 2013 06:49 PM

Another important game for the Celtics, one they should win against a team that's lost 10 consecutive contests, including 113-85 on Wednesday to Brooklyn. The Celtics are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the seventh spot and the Bucks play at New York tonight, so it's a golden opportunity to pick up a game. Paul Pierce is out tonight with a sprained right ankle but the Celtics still should prevail against a struggling club.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (39-36)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Chris Wilcox

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS(22-52)
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Alonzo Gee
SF Wayne Ellington
PF Tristan Thompson
C Tyler Zeller

Officials: Michael Smith, Karl Lane Mark Lindsay

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• The Celtics were expected to present to the Red Auerbach Award to the team MVP but that was postponed, meaning the likely winner is Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce, who are out of the lineup tonight.

• Pierce may return on Sunday against the Washington Wizards. He told reporters Thursday that his ankle was tweaked against Detroit and he did not practice.

• Kyrie Irving has torn up the Celtics in his career, averaging 26 points, 58.8 percent shooting and 53.3 from the 3-point line. He dropped 40 on the Celtics on Jan. 22 in a 95-90 win.

• With Pierce out, Courtney Lee gets back in the starting lineup. But it's likely temporary as coach Doc Rivers said Jeff Green is permanently in the starting lineup.

• Rookie Dion Waiters is out with a left knee injury. He is second to Portland's Damian Lillard in rookie scoring with 14.7 points per game.

Celtics injury updates from practice

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 01:52 PM

WALTHAM -- Doc Rivers had said that Kevin Garnet could return this week, possibly Friday, but that date has been pushed back. The Celtics coach said Thursday before practice that the earliest Garnett will play is Sunday against Washington.

"He’ll probably participate in shootaround [Friday], but I’m not going to play him [Friday], even if he wants to play," Rivers said.

Garnett has missed seven consecutive games with inflammation in his right ankle.

In other injury news, Paul Pierce, who turned his ankle Sunday against New York, did not practice and said he wouldn't have played if there was a game Thursday.

Pierce is expected to play Friday, as is Terrence Williams, who dislocated his right pinkie finger (on his shooting hand) during the first half of Wednesday's game against Detroit.

"They threw the ball, and I tried to put my hand out and get the ball," Williams said.

"As soon as the ball hit my hand, my finger just popped up that way," he added, pointing away from the rest of his hand.

Williams said he received X-rays during halftime and they came back negative.

Asked if he was disappointed that the injury happened when he was playing well, Williams responded, "You'd have to cut my hand off to get me to say I'm not going to play basketball."

Paul Pierce talks about his newborn son, Prince Paul Pierce

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 01:10 PM

WALTHAM -- Prince Paul Pierce, who joined the population Tuesday night, is doing just fine, said the newborn's father, Celtics captain Paul Pierce.

"He's doing good," Pierce said before practice Thursday. "It's just the third one, so, still going for five or six more."

Aren't there lofty expectations with a royal name like Prince?

"No, we're not going to put that kind of pressure on him," Pierce said. "I just want him to grow up, smart kid, be into the books. Whatever happens in sports happens."

But will his son master the step-back jumper, like his dad?

"I actually want to put a baseball in his hand, in his left hand," Pierce said.

Pierce has achieved plenty in sports, including winning an NBA title and NBA Finals MVP honors. Being a parent is different, he said.

"Oh, yeah, there's nothing like it," Pierce said. "I've had two baby girls and now a baby boy and it's one of the best feelings in the world, one of the best things you can ever go through, just seeing life, producing life, and knowing that you've got people who depend on you. It's like no other feeling in the world. I can't even explain it."

Has being a parent changed Pierce?

"Oh, it's definitely changed me," he said. "It's helped me understand that you have other people depending on you, so in your everyday life you're much more mature about your decisions you make, because you know the decisions you make affect your family and you're conscious of it, more so than before."

Chat with Celtics guard Avery Bradley Thursday at 11 a.m.

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff April 4, 2013 09:48 AM

Celtics guard Avery Bradley takes your questions Thursday morning at 11 a.m. Stop by a little early to get your question in for the Celtics' young defensive stopper.

Paul Pierce welcomes his newborn son, Prince Paul Pierce

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 11:38 PM

Paul Pierce had a very good reason, it turns out, to miss Monday night’s game.

While the Celtics were in Minnesota, Pierce was home in Boston with his wife, who was about to give birth.

And at 8:21 p.m. Tuesday, the couple’s first son, Prince Paul Pierce, entered this world.

“In the next 18 years, world, Celtics fans, look out,” Pierce told WEEI late Wednesday night after the Celtics beat the Detroit Pistons, 98-93, at TD Garden.

With their win and with Philadelphia’s loss at Charlotte, the Celtics clinched a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive season.

Pierce scored 17 points and had five assists in 33 minutes Wednesday.

Final: Celtics 98, Pistons 93

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 3, 2013 07:44 PM

Final: Celtics 98-93: The Pistons depended on Charlie Villanueva to save the day and he missed a potential tying 3-pointer and was 2-for-17 shooting and 0-for-8 from 3-point land. Jason Terry seals game with two free throws and the Celtics pick up a key game on Milwaukee for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.

Fourth quarter, 29.5, Celtics 96-93: Jason Terry misses his fourth 3-pointer of the evening and Detroit grabs rebound. Pistons ball.

Fourth quarter, 45.3, Celtics 96-91: Pistons got to within 2 and Charlie Villanueva, having a horrid offensive night (2-for-15) missed a 3-pointer badly. Jeff Green responds with a 3 of his own for a 34th point. Celtics are getting outrebounded 52-33 and 25-4 on offensive boards.

Fourth quarter, 2:28, Celtics 93-90: After the Jeff Green dunk, the Pistons scored 4 points on the next possession after a Greg Monroe three-point play and a technical free throw. After a Green jumper, Jonas Jerebko, who has been stellar on offense and defense, drains a 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game. Celtics ball.

Fourth quarter, 3:35, Celtics 91-83: Jeff Green is saving the Celtics from embarrassment, just jamming home a Jason Terry miss as the Celtics try to avoid blowing completely an 18-point lead. Green has 29 points on 11-for-17 shooting. Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass have added 17. The Pistons are outrebounding the Celtics 50-30, and 25-4 on the offensive glass.

Fourth quarter, 9:21, Celtics 79-74: The problem tonight is rebounding, the Celtics are getting pounded 46-26 on the glass and the Pistons are playing handball with offensive rebounds, grabbing 23 to Boston's two. Jonas Jerebko has made a big difference in the second half. He has 14 points in 19 minutes.

End of third quarter, Celtics 74-67: Detroit ends the quarter on an 11-0 run and the Celtics were held scoreless for the final 3:50, meaning this game is hardly over and the Celtics will needs to put in more work to seal what should have been an easy win. Rodney Stuckey has 18 points for the Pistons while Greg Monroe has 14. Jeff Green has 21 points for Boston while Brandon Bass has 17.

Third quarter, 6:10, Celtics 66-52: The Celtics are continuing to pound the Pistons with the combination of Jeff Green and Brandon Bass, who have combined for 34 points on 13-for-19 shooting. Avery Bradley has also had a nice game with 11 points in 21 minutes.

Halftime, Celtics 54-44: Boston outscores Detroit 31-14 in the quarter to take some control but the Celtics need to contain Rodney Stuckey, who has 14 points. Jeff Green leads the Celtics with 14 points and Brandon Bass has 13. The Celtics are shooting 54.1 percent but Jordan Crawford lowered that clip by missing 4 of 5 shots.

Second quarter, 2:20, Celtics 53-43: The Celtics have made quite a turnaround in the quarter, holding the Pistons to 5-for-14 shooting and are being more competitive on the boards. Brandon Bass has found his shooting stroke with 5-for-6 shooting for 12 points. Jeff Green has 14 for the Celtics. Rodney Stuckey is keeping the Pistons close with 13 points.

Second quarter, 5:39, Celtics 42-35: The Celtics are beginning to gain control behind 14 points from Jeff Green and 62.1 percent shooting. Paul Pierce has been rather quiet with 4 points and four assists in 11 minutes. Avery Bradley has 7 points in 10 minutes. The Pistons are 2-for-10 shooting in the quarter.

Second quarter, 9:04, Celtics 34-32: The Celtics scored the first 7 points of the second quarter and are jumping on the back of Jeff Green, who has 10 points. The Pistons have slowed down offensively but they are constantly going at the Celtics in the paint, scoring 20 of their 32 points inside.

End of first quarter, Pistons 30-25: The Celtics didn't exactly make a positive statement there, allowing the 25-50 Pistons to score 30 points, 18 of those in the paint. They also hit three 3-pointers and attempted eight free throws. Greg Monroe has 8 points for Detroit and Rodney Stuckey has 7.

First quarter, 1:49, Pistons 27-24: The Pistons are about to put up a 30-point quarter on the Celtics and they are only shooting 45.8 percent. They have attempted 24 shots in 10 minutes and are dominating the boards and playing with more energy. Greg Monroe has 8 points for the Pistons while Avery Bradley has 7 for Boston.

First quarter, 6:17, Pistons 13-11: Once again, the Pistons look like a formidable opponent against the Celtics. They have already taken 16 shots and six free throws and if they hadn't missed five free throws, the Celtics would be in real trouble. Rookie Andre Drummond already has 4 points and five rebounds.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Pistons

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff April 3, 2013 06:54 PM

The Celtics host the Pistons tonight in a critical game if they plan to hold on to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston has lost seven of nine games and needs a couple of victories to avoid playing the Miami Heat in the first round. Paul Pierce is back after missing Monday's game against the Timberwolves but the Celtics are 0-2 this season against Detroit, both blowout losses to one of the league's worst teams.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (38-36)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jeff Green
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Chris Wilcox

DETROIT PISTONS (25-50)
PG Jose Calderon
SG Brandon Knight
SF Kyle Singler
PF Greg Monroe
C Andre Drummond

Officials: Marc Davis, Brent Barnaky, Kane Fitzgerald

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• A team source said Kevin Garnett is expected to return to action Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics wanted him to rest for two weeks and Friday will two weeks since he last game. He has been suffering from ankle inflammation.

• Paul Pierce will return to action tonight after sitting out the Minnesota game due to "personal reasons." Pierce tweaked his right during Sunday's loss to the Knicks.

• This is the first of a four-game homestand for the Celtics with Cleveland. Washington and Brooklyn following the Pistons. The Celtics enter Wednesday 1 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the seventh spot. The Bucks are hosting the Timberwolves tonight.

• Coach Doc Rivers said he is unsure of his playoff rotation but believes the Celtics will be completely healthy when the postseason begins.

• Will Bynum is questionable after missing the past four games with a right hand sprain. He did participate in the team's shootaround this morning.

Garnett and Pierce do not participate in Celtics' shootaround

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 12:24 PM

WALTHAM -- Kevin Garnett (ankle) and Paul Pierce (personal reasons) did not participate in the Celtics' shootaround Wednesday morning.

Garnett will miss his seventh consecutive game Wednesday night when the Celtics play host to the the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden and Pierce is considered a game-time decision.

Pierce missed the Celtics' 110-100 loss Monday at Minnesota and coach Doc Rivers said before that game that Pierce would "for sure" play Wednesday against the Pistons.

Rivers did not elaborate on why exactly Pierce missed the game except to say that, “It’s no injury or anything.”

The Celtics can clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Pistons and a Philadelphia loss. The 76ers travel to Charlotte to play the league-worst Bobcats.

Final: Minnesota 110, Boston 100

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 08:17 PM

MINNEAPOLIS – No Kevin Garnett, no Paul Pierce, no chance for these Celtics?

It would be hard to argue otherwise. Remove Boston’s two best players and its odds of beating anyone just about bottom out, even against the sub-par Minnesota Timberwolves.

And with Garnett missing his sixth consecutive game with a sore left ankle and Pierce out because of personal reasons, the already short-handed Celtics came up short Monday against those very Timberwolves, losing 110-100, at Target Center.

The Celtics have lost two straight and seven of nine, and Garnett’s absence in the middle proved to be a big factor yet again the Timberwolves scored 62 in the paint as compared to 38 for the Celtics. Minnesota also scored 23 fast-break points while the Celtics had just 9.

It marked the sixth time in the last seven games that Boston has allowed an opponent to top the 100-point mark.

Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic, a hulking 6-foot-11, 281-pounder, had 29 points, making 9-of-15 from the floor and all 11 of his free throws. Andrei Kirilenko added 17 points and Dante Cunningham scored 19 off the bench. Ricky Rubio had 9 points and 10 assists.

The Timberwolves earned their first win against Boston since Feb. 11, 2007, snapping an 11-game skid.

Even with guard Avery Bradley scoring 19 points to bounce out of a long slump, the Celtics’ role players struggled to add much to the scoreboard. After scoring 27 points in two straight games, Jeff Green had 10. The Celtics’ bench helped -- Jason Terry had 14, Terrence Williams 14, Shavlik Randolph 11 – but it wasn’t enough.

The Celtics cut Minnesota’s lead to 7 on a three-point play by Jordan Crawford with 1:38 left in the third quarter. The Timberwolves opened up the fourth with a 12-4 run and never looked back.

The Celtics return to action Wednesday against Detroit at TD Garden.

Fourth quarter, 7:45, Minnesota 96-82: The Timberwolves opened up the fourth quarter on a 12-4 run. They have huge advantages in points in the paint (52 to 34) and fast-break points (23 to 5) and there's not much the Celtics can do about it. The game still is close, but it doesn't feel like it.

End of the third quarter, Minnesota 84-78: The Celtics bench has helped keep them in this, with 11 points from Jason Terry, 10 from Terrence Williams and 8 from Shavlik Randolph. Jeff Green has struggled and was taken out of the game. He has 8 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists but doesn't seem to be into this game. Avery Bradley has 17 points but four fouls. Points in the paint: Minnesota 46, Boston 30. Yep.

Third quarter, 6:25, Minnesota 74-62: Andrei Kirilenko scored 5 straight points to open the second half and give the Timberwolves a 10-point lead. The Celtics answered with a couple buckets, but Minnesota answered back with the player Boston hasn't slowed all night, Nikola Pekovic. Pek', as he is known, has 25 points. He has made 7 of his 11 shots from the floor and all 11 of his shots from the free-throw line. Kirilenko just added a fast-break dunk to give him 15 points. Timeout, Celtics.

Halftime: Minnesota 57-52: Avery Bradley has been excellent for the Celtics, rebounding from several poor outings to score 15 first-half points. But on the other end, the Celtics have been getting crushed inside by Nikola Pekovic, who has 21 points. Minnesota is winning the points-in-the-paint battle, 34 to 18. Bradley and Pekovic are the only players to score in double figures. Each team has 19 bench points and each crew is shooting better than 50 percent (51.2 percent for Minnesota, 52.5 for Boston).

Second quarter 3:55, Minnesota 45-38: Both teams are shooting well -- 51.6 percent from Boston and 47.1 percent for Minnesota. The Timberwolves have scored 24 of their points in the paint and Nikola Pekovic has 17 points. The Celtics have seven turnovers that Minnesota has converted into 10 points.

Second quarter, 7:01, Minnesota 38-36: The Celtics are starting to get a more balanced effort, with 7 points from Terrence Williams, 6 from Jason Terry and 6 from Jeff Green. That has helped them keep the game close. Ricky Rubio has 5 points and 5 assists.

End of the first quarter, Minnesota 27-25: The Celtics have no answer in the middle for Nikola Pekovic, who scored 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and 5-of-5 shooting from the free-throw line. The Timberwolves already have 16 points in the paint while the Celtics have 8. Avery Bradley has 8 points to lead Boston.

First quarter, 3:59, Minnesota 19-15: Nikola Pekovic returned after missing a game with a sprained left ankle and the Celtics have had a tough time slowing the mighty 6-foot-11, 281-pound Montenegro native. He has 11 points and has made 4-of-5 shots.

First quarter, 7:30, Tied, 9-9: Avery Bradley has six points, tripling his scoring out-put for the entire night against New York. Bradley will have his hands full with Ricky Rubio, who has 4 points. The Celtics are really trying to push the ball.

Paul Pierce to sit out against Minnesota for 'personal reasons'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 07:21 PM

MINNEAPOLIS -- Celtics captain Paul Pierce will sit out Monday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves here because of "personal reasons," the team announced.

Pierce did not make the trip with the team and returned to Boston after the Celtics played Sunday in New York. Coach Doc Rivers wouldn't elaborate about why Pierce missed the game except to say that it wasn't for any negative reasons.

Pierce turned his ankle against the Knicks and Rivers said afterward that he was considering resting Pierce, who is averaging 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season.

It's the second game of the season that Pierce will miss. He also sat out in a 100-74 blowout loss in Charlotte earlier this month.

Welcome to Target Center for Celtics-Timberwolves

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 05:51 PM

MINNEAPOLIS -- Paul Pierce ("personal reasons") is out, Kevin Garnett (ankle) is out, and Rajon Rondo (knee) has been out for a while. So, it's quite an understatement to say that the the Celtics have their work cut out for them when they face the Timberwolves tonight at Target Center.

For the sake of clarity, Pierce did not make the trip with the team and returned to Boston after the Celtics played Sunday in New York. Coach Doc Rivers wouldn't elaborate about why Pierce missed the game except to say that it wasn't for any negative reasons.

Pierce turned his ankle against the Knicks and Rivers said afterward that he was considering resting Pierce, who is averaging 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season.

It's the second game of the season that Pierce will miss. He also sat out in a 100-74 blowout loss in Charlotte earlier this month.

Courtney Lee will start in place of Pierce.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (38-35)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Chris Wilcox

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (26-46)
PG Ricky Rubio
PG Luke Ridnour
SF Andrei Kirilenko
PF Derrick Williams
C Greg Stiemsma

Officials: David Jones, Courtney Kirkland, Olandis Poole

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

• Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic is expected to be back in the lineup after missing Saturday's game vs Memphis with a sprained left ankle.

• This is the second and final meeting between these teams. The Celtics won, 104-94, in Boston in December.

• The Celtics are off Tuesday and return to action Wednesday against Detroit at TD Garden.

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