Nuggets adjustments too much for Celtics

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Nuggets adjustments too much for Celtics

DENVER Somewhere in the first chapter of the NBA manual on playercoach cliches, you'll find some reference to what happens on the floor being "a game of adjustments."

Well the Celtics can attest to that following Tuesday's 97-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Denver was still smarting after last week's 118-114 triple overtime loss in Boston, a game that Nuggets head coach George Karl makes no secret about feeling as though his team should have won it.

"I think our guys know we should have won that game in Boston," Karl said prior to the game.

As much as emotions such as revenge and redemption might come into play, the bigger contributor to the Celtics loss was some of the subtle and not-so-subtle adjustments made by Denver in comparison to last week's game.

Nobody experienced this more than Paul Pierce who had just 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting from the field. He also had six rebounds and six assists after fouling out after picking up - yup, you know it - his sixth personal foul.

Following the loss, Pierce acknowledged the Nuggets were doing some things differently in trying to limit his impact.

"In the pick-and-rolls, they trapped a little bit more," Pierce said. "They switched out, loaded up on defense a little more. Driving lanes definitely weren't there. But I have to make the extra pass and find guys. There's other ways I can beat teams other than my scoring. I have to do a better job at that."

Those adjustments put a greater amount of pressure on those around them to step up; specifically Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley who had 15 and 17 points, respectively, against Denver.

"We were just playing off each other," Lee said. "We were able to get stops and get out and run. We were executing on the offensive end. When you got KG and you got Paul, they're going to draw a lot of attention. They draw doubles, so me and Avery are open."

There were other adjustments that were even more subtle, like Nuggets head coach George Karl constantly telling his team to pick up the pace, well aware of how short-handed the Celtics are because of injuries.

"George knows what he's doing. He's been around a long time," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "There's a reason he didn't call a time-out. He could see us. The one time I was trying to get Kevin (Garnett) off the floor, and George, you could see him ... he looked like Roy Williams today, just waving, let's go. You could see us starting to go downhill."

Rivers added, "Pace in this place is rough."

So is the dealing with the altitude in the Mile High city that often leads to players becoming fatigued sooner than usual.

"It's hard," Rivers said. "I always thought as a player, it's more the first half. Honestly today it was the second half. It got to us. You could clearly see it. We had to rest Kevin several times when we probably didn't want to, but we had no choice in the matter."

Rivers added, "they're so deep. They just keep bringing in guys. They play at that pace and I thought it got to us tonight."

Boston faces the Los Angeles Lakers only 24 hours later, and like Denver they too will look to make some adjustments with the goal being to exact revenge on the C's after Boston handed them a 112-105 loss in a game that was not as close as the final score might lead one to believe.

That loss, the fact that it's Boston-Los Angeles and it's their first game after the All-Star break is enough subplots to work through.

Throw in the fact that it'll be an even more emotionally-charged game due to the recent passing of team owner Dr. Jerry Buss, and the C's will indeed have their hands full.

"It's a lot of stuff to handle," Rivers said. "And we're going to be right in the middle of the firestorm. That's the league. You know how that works."

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

BOSTON – It has been well-established that the Celtics are a three-point shooting, bombs away kind of team and nothing seems like it’ll deter them from continuing along that path.
 
But as we prepare for the second half of the season, beginning tonight against the New York Knicks, we come to realize Boston’s launching of 3-pointers isn’t just unusually high.
 
This group of Celtics rank among the league's all-time leaders in 3-point attempts by the halfway mark of the season.

And when you look at the company they’re keeping when it comes to 3-point shooting, it speaks to how important it has become in this NBA to have as many long-range shooting threats on the floor as possible if you're trying to win at a high level.
 
Boston’s 494 3-point attempts thus far this season ranks fourth all-time by the halfway point of a season. But this season, that’s just good enough to be third behind Houston and Golden State with 617 and 505 three-point attempts, respectively.
 
The other team in the top four all-time is last season's Golden State squad, which took 519 three-pointers by the midway point of the season.
 
And all those 3’s by the Celtics have included an NBA-record six straight games in which they made at least 15 3-pointers.
 
That has allowed the Celtics to score at least 100 points in 15 consecutive games, the franchise’s longest such streak since they reached the 100-point plateau in 19 straight games in 1991.
 
Of course Isaiah Thomas’ 3-point shooting stands out, particularly when you see how dominant he has been this season in the fourth quarter with a league-best 10.1 points per game.
 
But his offense, while potent, is aided heavily by the shot-making snipers coach Brad Stevens surrounds him with on a nightly basis.
 
That’s why you didn’t see Stevens or president of basketball operations Danny Ainge freak out earlier this season when the Celtics were struggling.
 
Kelly Olynyk, who shot better than 40 percent on 3’s a year ago, was still on the mend after offseason shoulder surgery.
 
Jae Crowder, whose 3-point shooting has steadily improved throughout his career, had some minor injuries that set him back and maybe more important, didn’t allow him to get into the kind of shooting rhythm we see now which has allowed him to shoot a team-best 42.6 percent on 3’s.
 
Al Horford, Thomas, Amir Johnson … they all missed some time due to injuries this season, which has impacted the team’s chemistry and timing.
 
But the past couple of weeks have seen the Celtics healthier than they’ve been most of this season, and it has allowed them to play with the kind of space they want which has allowed Thomas and his cohorts to take lots of lightly contested to open 3’s most of this season.
 
“We’ve got pretty good shooters on this team where you’ve got to pick your poison,” Thomas said. “We’re shooting at a high level, and I got to say, you just have to pick your poison who you want to stop and my job is just to make the right play each and every time down.”
 

Mike Gorman: 'No thanks on Carmelo Anthony to the Celtics'

Mike Gorman: 'No thanks on Carmelo Anthony to the Celtics'

The New York Knicks arrive in Boston tonight with the accompanying "Melo-drama" of Carmelo Anthony's disintegrating relationship with team president Phil Jackson.

Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause to leave New York and Boston has been an oft-rumored destination. 

On "The Toucher and Rich Show", the longtime voice of the Celtics, Mike Gorman, said he hopes it doesn't happen. 

"I don't get it. I don't see it," Gorman said. "He's a ball stopper. One of the things that always intrigued me about Carmelo is when he's played with Team USA or an Olympic team, often he's the best player. Then you go and see him in a regular-season game and you say, 'Oh no, no."'