Celtics-Knicks preview: C's stall when game slows

Celtics-Knicks preview: C's stall when game slows
April 26, 2013, 11:30 am
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BOSTON -- When the Celtics were winning in the regular season, they did so by literally out-running teams.

In the playoffs, the game tends to slow down as teams are forced to play more half-court sets -- a weakness for the Celtics all season and, apparently, in the playoffs as well.

Better play when the game slows down will put the C's on the fast track to getting back in a series that's getting away from them now. They come into the game Friday night against the Knicks trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

"We're not organized offensively like the way we should be," coach Doc Rivers said. "That's what we have to be. You're gonna have to play some half-court in the playoffs. We knew that going into this series. We just haven't done it very well."

Still, the C's have had some success running, evident by them having a 30-9 advantage in fastbreak points in this series.

And while points in the paint has been negligible (New York leads 56-54), Boston's inability to be efficient in half-court sets has been a huge factor in its lack of offensive punch and more significantly, the 2-0 series deficit.

Part of that has to do with the limited contributions offensively from Kevin Garnett, the team's only true low-post scoring threat.

In two games, Garnett has averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds. Still, his impact hasn't been nearly great enough for Boston to have a legitimate shot at winning.

Of course, Garnett was limited in Game 2 initially because of foul trouble and later because of a hip injury that Rivers has said will not impact his availability for Game 3.

The only thing that seems to have worked, and that has been in short bursts here and there, is their transition game, which Rivers knows can't last an entire game if you plan on winning.

"You're not going to play open floor basketball in the playoffs the entire game; that's just not going to happen," Rivers said. "We have to be able to execute and we just haven't."

Boston's ability to be a more effective half-court team will go far in their chances at beating the Knicks at the TD Garden for the first time this season.

Here are some other factors to consider heading into Game 3:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Emotions will be running high from the start for the Celtics. So, part of the challenge for the C's will be to channel that energy and spread it out over the course of the game and play well in the second half. The would be a first in this series for the C's.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Kevin Garnett vs. Tyson Chandler: For Garnett to not dominate this matchup with Chandler, who is clearly not himself health-wise, has been a huge disappointment. Garnett is dealing with a hip injury that certainly impacted his play in Game 2 (that and early foul trouble), but at this point that doesn't matter. He has to find a way to outplay Chandler and the Knicks.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  All eyes will once again be on Carmelo Anthony, who has gotten off to fast starts in both Games 1 and 2. He led the league in first-quarter scoring with nine points per game, and is up to 10.5 points scored in the first quarter of this playoff series. He's going to get his points, regardless. Not allowing those points to come so early would go far in Boston's quest to get a game in this series.

STAT TO TRACK:  Paul Pierce needs to be more efficient, and not just shooting the ball, either. He has turned the ball over 11 times in the two playoff games against New York, which speaks to how he's being asked to do more than he probably should right now. The injuries and inconsistent play has left the C's with little choice but to lean a little heavier on the captain. Pierce having a night with less than five turnovers could go far in Boston's chances at getting a win.