Despite loss to Knicks, C's confident about future

Despite loss to Knicks, C's confident about future
March 31, 2013, 11:45 pm
Share This Post

NEW YORK — There's not a lot to feel good about if you're the Boston Celtics, who were trounced by 19 points on the road Sunday night by New York, a beating that came less than a week after the Knicks did similar damage in Boston.

But this Boston Celtics team has hummed to the beat of a drum that few outside their locker room can hear, a sound that continues to tell them that losing three out of four regular season games to the New York Knicks doesn't necessarily make them an easy out for New York if the two met in the playoffs.

The playoffs are by their very being, a completely different game compared to the regular season.

And the C's will in all likelihood be a different, healthier team at that point as well.

"I feel like when we're healthy we can compete with anybody," said Jeff Green who had a game-high 27 points on Sunday.

Kevin Garnett has missed the last five games for Boston due to inflammation in his left foot. He may be joined by Paul Pierce on the sideline Monday night at Minnesota.

Pierce, who had 24 points and 15 rebounds in Sunday's loss to New York, tweaked his right ankle in the first quarter against the Knicks but continued to play until Doc Rivers took him out for good with 1:55 to play in the third quarter. Pierce had some soreness after the game, a major factor in Rivers' plans which will probably include having Pierce sit out Monday's game against the Timberwolves.

Indeed, the Celtics are hitting that point in the season when balancing the need to finish strong with keeping guys healthy butt heads regularly.

But the latter - keeping guys healthy - is an absolute for the Celtics who still believe they are good enough to hold their own with any team they face in the playoffs - including the Knicks.

"We can't get down on ourselves just thinking because they beat us the last couple of times, that if we play them again we have no chance," Green said. "We have a chance, whoever we match up against."

And Boston's chances of success are enhanced greatly if the C's defensive anchor, Kevin Garnett, is on the floor.

"If we do get to see them (Knicks) in the playoffs, KG will hopefully be a lot healthier then," Pierce said. "He was a big difference in the one win we got in the Garden here (this season). That element makes us a different team, to have him."

In Boston's 102-96 win over the Knicks on Jan. 7, Garnett had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds.

From player to player, it's clear that the C's remain confident in their chances of being successful if they were to face New York in the first round of the playoffs.

That confidence is in striking contrast to how the C's are perceived by opponents who see an injury-riddled club minus its all-star point guard (Rajon Rondo, out for the season with a torn right ACL injury) and has a pair of aging stars (Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) whose best days as a pro are behind them.

But the naysayers of today were just as loud about the C's chances of coming up short a year ago, only for Boston to shock the NBA landscape and advance all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in seven games to eventual NBA champion Miami Heat.

"We'll see, but we have to get healthy first," Rivers said. "We have to get Kevin (Garnett) back, we gotta get Courtney (Lee) healthy. And we'll roll it out and see how everybody lines up. We like us against any of these teams."