Looking at adjustments on The Day After

Looking at adjustments on The Day After
April 21, 2013, 3:45 pm
Share This Post

The Celtics will need to get more production from its bench to beat the Knicks.

(USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — The sting of Boston's 85-78 Game 1 loss to New York is still fresh in the minds of fans, players and the Celtics coaching staff.

But as a Celtics player told me after last night's loss, "nothing can be done about it now other than to move on and get the next one."

That said, the transition from putting the Game 1 loss behind them and shifting towards the next game can be dangerous if not entered with some degree of caution.

Far too often, the problems of past performances with this group get glossed over, making the likelihood of a repeat performance more likely.

But on The Day After, when cool heads prevail and clarity reigns, we will examine three pressing issues for the Celtics going forward because, well, that's what you do when it's playoff time and it's The Day After.

TURNOVER A NEW PAGE

The end of Boston's Game 1 loss was fitting.

Paul Pierce lost the ball with 13.9 seconds to play. Eighteen seconds prior to that, it was Kevin Garnett coughing it up.

Twenty one turnovers usually won't get you a victory in the regular season, let alone a playoff game against a team that's playing as well as the New York Knicks are right now.

While there will be a lot of attention paid to Boston's high turnover number and how that number has to drop, the C's need to find a way to create a few more New York miscues. Not only did the Knicks commit just 13 turnovers, they protected the ball better in the decisive fourth quarter than they did in any of the three prior to that.

How well did they protect it in the fourth? How about not a single turnover.

Boston's best shot at forcing more Knicks mistakes is to do more switching defensively on Carmelo Anthony as opposed to Game 1 when Jeff Green spent way too much time attempting to guard him.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't need to see the video of the game afterwards to know that this was yet another area in which his guys have to be better at for Game 2 on Tuesday.

"I thought he was on Carmelo too much," Rivers said of Green. "That was not supposed to happen. There were probably 25 switches that we didn't do and it kind of left Jeff on him more than you want. I don't think one man should guard him the whole game. That's exhausting."

BENCH PLAY

When you only play three players off the bench and they're all 6-foot-5 or shorter, realistic expectations are that they have to make shots. And depending on what starters you keep on the floor, you would hope that they would do their part on the boards when the opportunity presented itself.

The shorter rotation by Boston had little-to-no impact on the game other than maybe a negative one.

Jason Terry did not score a single point, missing all five of his field goal attempts. In 87 playoff games prior to Game 1 against New York, Terry had made at least one basket in each game.

Courtney Lee didn't do much in his 20 minutes on the floor, although his four made free throws did represent all of the second unit's scoring output.

Jordan Crawford was a non-factor as well, although Rivers said that may change for Game 2.

"I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half," Rivers said. "He didn't score but he created baskets."

With time running down in the first quarter, it was a Crawford rebound with 6.9 seconds to play in the quarter that set the stage for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jeff Green that lifted the C's to a 29-26 lead.

On the play, Crawford penetrated the lane, passed to Garnett who then passed to Green for the go-ahead 3-pointer.

"He has the ability to do that," Rivers said. "He's buying in defensively. If he can continue to do that, he has a chance to help us."

KEVIN GARNETT FACTOR

Last year in the playoff, the Kevin Garnett plus-minus ratio was off the charts, making it statistically noticeable just how much better the Celtics were in games in which he was on the floor.

But just being on the floor doesn't make Garnett a great player; it's how his teammates and the coaching staff use him while he is in the game and how assertive Garnett can be in encouraging his teammates to get him the ball.

He is about as reluctant a superstar as you will find in the NBA, which is both a blessing and at times a burden to his teams because he will pass up scoring opportunities to get a fellow teammate involved.

Garnett will still look to do that, but there is a fine line between getting others involved and making sure that he gets enough shot attempts to keep the Knicks honest defensively.

"We have to keep our spacing," Rivers said. "I thought in the second half we didn't have any. And we just have to do a better job. We have to involve him more. There's a better way to do it than the way we did it. There's certain things that he didn't do, either. We just have to do a better job."