Celtics

Notes: Celtics know Knicks won't go quietly

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Notes: Celtics know Knicks won't go quietly

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics aren't scoring a ton of style points with NBA pundits and basketball aficionados following victories in Games 1 and 2 over the New York Knicks.

Boston has won both games by a total of five points, which speaks to how this series could just as easily be 2-0 in favor of the Knicks.

Even though the Celtics have the better record, swept the regular-season series and have now won 18 of the last 20 meetings between the teams, Boston players say they're not surprised at how tough the Knicks have been to put away.

Looking back at the four regular-season games, Boston won them by a total of just 26 points, or 6.5 points per game.

"This team is not going to go away," Ray Allen said of the Knicks. "We're not just going to beat this team because they are a lower seed than we are."

Said Rajon Rondo: "Hopefully we can get a couple games, or one game, where we can have a comfortable lead."

Sounds good in theory.

But this is the playoffs where every game, regardless of what happened in the regular season, is a struggle.

That's why Allen hasn't given a second thought as to why the C's haven't been able to put the Knicks away sooner when the two teams face one another.

"We can win every game by one point, and I'm happy," Allen said.

When Rajon Rondo is in full-blown attack mode, it's a thing of beauty. We've seen it to some degree in both playoff games against the New York Knicks. As much as Celtics Nation would love to see that Rondo all the time, both he and his coach know that's just not going to happen.

"It's impossible for 82 games to do that," Rondo said. "Different teams have different schemes."

He's talking about the way teams defend - something that has never been a part of a Mike D'Antoni-coached squad.

"Obviously, their strength is not defense," Rondo said. "It's putting the ball in the hole."

Which for Rondo, looked quite easy in Game 2 when he had a playoff career-high 30 points primarily on lay-ups that came when he beat the Knicks down court.

Rondo said the key to his fast start - he had 12 points in the first quarter - was Boston's ability to hold its own on the boards and Knicks guard Toney Douglas picking up an early foul. Aware that New York was thin at the point-guard position (Anthony Carter was the backup because the team's usual starter, Chauncey Billups, was out with a left knee injury), Rondo was about as aggressive as we've seen him this season.

"We did a pretty good job rebounding and I was trying to take advantage," Rondo said.

One of the advantages Boston felt it had coming into this first-round series with the Knicks was its bench.

Well, things haven't quite worked out like they anticipated.

The Celtics' second unit has been outscored 46-22 by the Knicks' backups, which has put even more pressure on Boston's starters to carry the team.

Rivers isn't worried about his second unit's struggles.

"That's why it's a team game," Rivers said. "Sometimes your bench plays well and your starters don't. It's never going to be perfect. There will be a game in this series where a couple of our starters won't play well, and then somebody on the bench will step up. It's just the nature of the beast."

And while rotations in the playoffs do shrink - we're seeing that with the Celtics already - Rivers reiterated he will not make any significant changes to how he goes about using his reserves.

So far he has gone with a nine-man rotation although only three backups - Glen Davis, Jeff Green and Delonte West - see significant minutes off the bench.

Nenad Krstic is the ninth man, although he has played a total of just eight minutes in the first two games.

Krstic suffered a bone bruise to his right knee at San Antonio on March 31.

And last week, his left knee collided with a teammate in practice which has bothered him some as well.

"He's hurting," Rivers said. "But so is everyone. I don't pay attention to that. I never ask. If they're hurting enough, they'll tell me. That's been my motto."

Rivers also believes deeply in bench play being important always, but especially in the playoffs.

And while his second unit has had its problems, his faith in them remains strong as ever.

"I'm going to play our bench, whether they are playing well or not," Rivers said. "They will play well. They just haven't. They'll come through for us."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics 'don’t have time for square one' moving on without Hayward

Celtics 'don’t have time for square one' moving on without Hayward

BOSTON – When Kyrie Irving asked Cleveland to trade him this summer, he did so in part to be more of a navigator when it comes to charting out the rest of his basketball career.

But he knows for him to achieve the kind of individual and team success that he wants, he can’t do it alone.

And that maybe more than anything else, is why Irving has struggled in these first two games as far as shooting the ball.

In Boston’s first two games – both losses – Irving has averaged 19.5 points, 4.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds. Those are decent numbers but pale in comparison to what the 25-year-old has been able to do most of his NBA career.

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And while the team is committed to moving on and focus on winning the next game, there’s no getting around the emotional tug they all feel towards Hayward.

“You can throw as many emotions in there as you want, man,” Irving said. “We know how much G (Gordon Hayward) meant to this team and means to this team. Without him on the floor creating those opportunities we were going over in practice, and we saw in preseason and in the first game, that’s a big void to fill. When you think of it in that aspect, of course you want to be frustrated and disappointed. I’m pretty sure that’s not what G wants. So, for us, you just have to continue to exude confidence in the young guys and be ready to step up to the plate. It’s going to be even higher expectations on our guys in this locker room now to try and fill that hole that G (Hayward) left for us. As one of the leaders on this team, it’s my job to pick us up, as well as with Brad and the team with all the guys. We have to look each other in the eyes and know what to expect every single night.”

That’s a lot easier said than done, especially when you consider how quickly things changed for the Celtics at least in the short term with Hayward’s energy.

“I just … as you can see its’ not an ideal situation,” Irving said. “So, as cliché as it is, everybody is probably going to say that’s life. But it is, man. [expletive] happens. Excuse my language. But it does, man. The individual that we have in Gordon, he’s very special. He’s going to fight like hell to get back on the floor. I know he’s already … there’s a fire burning inside of him. You see the amount of support he got. That should tell you the type of person he is. Not only to the Boston Celtics but to the rest of the league. We want him to get back healthy but we all understand that his health comes first. He’s going to do everything possible to get back on the floor and it’s our job to lift him up.”

Irving was asked whether the team would need to go back to Square One due to Hayward’s injury which will keep him out indefinite at this point.

“No. We don’t have time for square one,” Irving said. “I can tell you that right now. We don’t have time to go back to square one. It’s time to just figure it out, moment to moment, and we’ll be alright. I’ve had the unique opportunity to be in some situations that test your character and this is one of those times.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE