Notes: Celtics urge Krstic to stop overthinking

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Notes: Celtics urge Krstic to stop overthinking

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MINNEAPOLIS Nenad Krstic was getting an earful from Doc Rivers in the first half of Sunday's 85-82 win over Minnesota.

He missed a defensive rotation, and Rivers, well, wasn't happy.

But it wasn't so much the missed assignment that bothered Rivers, but the reason behind it.

"The reason he had the missed defensive rotation was because he was mad about missing layups," Rivers said. "And I told him at halftime, that's selfish to me; that's thinking about your poor play, instead of helping the team win. He's not trying to be selfish. He wants to do right so bad, that at times it takes him out of playing well."

Krstic, acquired along with Jeff Green from Oklahoma City last month, agrees.

"Now I'm putting more pressure on myself just to do right things," Krstic said. "When you think too much about not making mistakes, that affects your game. When you get the ball, you're not focusing 100 percent. So I'm trying, I'm really trying to play basketball. But I am, my personality . . . everything I do, I want to do 100 percent."

But his teammates, specifically Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, have been encouraging him to just play and not think so much.

Far too often, Krstic will get the ball around the basket and seemingly wait for defenders to come nearby before going up for a shot or dunk.

At halftime, Pierce and Garnett had a talk with him about that.

"Kevin and Paul at halftime were phenomenal," Rivers said. "They said, 'Just dunk it, and if you miss, so what?' I thought that was great for him, and I thought the second half he played much better."

Although Krstic only scored 4 of his 11 points in the second half, his defense was better.

Why?

Because he was just playing, and not thinking as much.

"I'm really trying to play hard and try to do the right thing," Krstic said. "It's not the good way to for myself, putting more pressure. That's why, I kind of struggle and sometimes I forget a play; too much stuff, and I'm trying to do right."

Minnesota's Anthony Randolph has been on a tear since Kevin Love went out of the lineup with a groin injury.

That is, until he faced Kevin Garnett.

In the two games Randolph had started in place of Love prior to Sunday night, he averaged 27.5 points and 13 rebounds. Against the Celtics, he had three points while missing all five of his field-goal attempts, along with four rebounds.

"Kevin's pretty good," said Rivers, referring to Garnett who was the league's defensive player of the Year in 2008. "He's long, athletic. I thought we kept Randolph off the block. We didn't let him set up shop. And I thought everybody ran out to his shot."

After watching video of Randolph's last couple of games, Garnett had a pretty good idea of what he needed to do in order to limit the 6-foot-11 forward.

"Just took the first option away from him, made him do some things he didn't want to do," Garnett explained. "Our bigs did a good job of taking it to him. He's . . . foul prone. He never got into a rhythm. We did a good job of taking him totally out of the game."

You can bet Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart had a ton of congratulatory phone calls and text messages after VCU advanced to the Final Four with a thrilling victory over Kansas.

Among those to reach out to him?

Doc Rivers.

Smart, one of the hottest names in college basketball right now, is a former assistant coach at Florida who was instrumental in Rivers' son, Austin, originally committing to the Gators.

Smart left for VCU, and Rivers soon re-opened the recruiting process before ultimately choosing to sign with the Duke Blue Devils.

"I love him," Rivers said. "I'm really happy for him. Got to know him very well. When he left Florida, that was a big deal for Austin. They still kept in contact. He's a wise . . . far beyond his age. He's going to be a terrific coach, forever. So I'm really, really happy for him."

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

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

BOSTON – Having already clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s game, no one would have been shocked to see them come out and play fat-and-happy basketball.

Especially against an Indiana Pacers team that’s hungry for a win to bolster their playoff position.

But the Celtics continue to show us that they are a different team than the one that far too often failed to stack strong performances on top of one another.

That was not the case on Wednesday as they pulled away in the second half for an impressive 109-100 win over the Pacers.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points and five assists. His backcourt mate Avery Bradley was solid as well, scoring 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Jae Crowder and Al Horford each had 15 points while Kelly Olynyk had another strong showing off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds along with four assists.

With the win, Boston (46-26) swept the regular season series 3-0. While it’s unlikely they will finish in a tie record-wise with the Pacers, there is the possibility that they could meet in the first round of the playoffs next month.

Knowing they haven’t lost to the Pacers all season could be a huge mental plus for Boston if in fact their first-round foe was Indiana.  

Wednesday’s game was the first between these two with most of their respective rosters at full strength.

And the Celtics at full strength, regardless of the opponent, have been pretty tough to beat.

But the Pacers (36-35) weren’t going to make this easy for Boston, even as they fell behind by as many as 17 points to the Celtics.

Paul George, who led all scorers with 37 points, began to lead the Pacers back into the game with a strong fourth quarter showing.

And when Boston’s defense tried to adjust to George’s jacuzzi-hot scoring, he got others like Jeff Teague involved.

Teague, who had 25 points, made a 3-pointer that cut Boston’s lead to 93-86 with 6:31.

That was enough for Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who called a time-out.

After a pair of Isaiah Thomas misses, the Celtics got a little more cushion following a mid-range jumper by Olynyk.

While Indiana continued to get timely offensive rebounds, the Celtics went into bend-but-don’t-break mode defensively down the stretch.

And while the Pacers certainly were in the game, there was never a moment down the stretch when Boston’s impending victory was in doubt.

Both teams set the tone defensively in the first half which was a relatively low-scoring affair.

That should not come as a surprise considering how well each team has played of late at that end of the floor.

Since the All-Star break, Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA while the Pacers aren’t far behind, coming in at No. 6.

A 3-pointer by Bradley to close out the second quarter gave Boston a 49-42 lead at the half.

Boston’s control of the game remained solid through most of the third, but an 8-3 spurt by the Celtics to close out the third put ahead 88-74 going into the fourth.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

BOSTON – Boston and Indiana know there’s a chance they could face off next month in the playoffs, with both teams delivering the kind of defensive performance on Wednesday that highlighted two teams playing with a heightened sense of urgency fueled by tough, physical defense.

It was indeed a “Both Teams Played Hard” kind of first half which ended with Boston ahead 49-42.

Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer that just beat the halftime horn which gave Boston its biggest lead of the half.  

The tone was set by both teams with a low-scoring first quarter in which the defenses for both teams stood out.

It really should not have been that big a surprise considering how well both teams have defended since the all-star break.

Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA since the break, while the Pacers have proven to be no slouch coming in at No. 6.

After falling behind 37-36 in the second, Boston ran off eight straight to lead 44-37 which was their largest lead of the game at this point.

But the Pacers stayed within striking distance in large part because the Celtics’ unusually high number of turnovers.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

 

STARS

Paul George

A four-time All-Star, George was scoring but the Celtics made him work a lot harder than he would like. He leads all scorers with 14 points, but has done so on 4-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

Like George, the opposing team’s defense made for a rough first half. Thomas still managed to lead the Celtics with 10 points.

 

STUDS

Jeff Teague

He really went at Isaiah Thomas to start the game, and for the most part it was working for him. He had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half.

Jae Crowder

Solid defense and timely shot-making made for a solid first half for Crowder. He had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Avery Bradley

He did more than deliver a timely shot to end the half for Boston. He had nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in addition to grabbing four rebounds while being one of the main contributors defensively to Paul George not having an efficient night shooting the ball.  

 

DUDS

Celtics turnovers

By far the biggest concern Boston has heading into the second half. The Celtics average 13.2 turnovers per game. They had 14 in the first half, which led to 17 points for the Pacers. Boston’s season-high for turnovers is 24 which they racked up against Philadelphia on Feb. 15.