Emphasis on rebounding pays off for Celtics

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Emphasis on rebounding pays off for Celtics

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK When it comes to rebounding, the Boston Celtics have a body of work this season that doesn't elicit too much confidence that when a shot is missed, it'll be hauled in by one of the men in Green.

But this is the playoffs, and things have a way of not quite following the regular season script.

That certainly was the case on Friday as the Boston Celtics controlled the boards for most of the night against the Knicks which factored heavily into Boston's 113-96 Game 3 win.

Boston can close out the series with a victory on Sunday.

"One of the things we worked on in practice was rebounding better off the help," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "We are a help defensive team, but our second effort has to be better and it was tonight. We got bodies on bodies and we were able to get rebounds."

Added Paul Pierce: "We wanted to make an emphasis on putting bodies on people and boxing out."

For the game, the Celtics out-rebounded the Knicks 43-33. Among those boards, 13 were offensive which contributed to the C's having a 22-15 advantage in second-chance points.

The Celtics getting any offensive rebounds is surprising when you consider how they place such a great emphasis on making sure they're in position to limit teams getting out in transition, which often results in them not attacking the offensive glass.

Boston grabbed just an NBA-record low 639 offensive rebounds this past season, shattering the not-so-long-standing mark they set the previous season when they collected just 716.

Rivers knows all too well that offensive rebounds have been hard to come by for his team in recent years.

But he said there wasn't any added focus put on grabbing them on Friday.

"The only thing we did was what we should have done," Rivers said. "If you are going to go, you go but you get back to a body. There was no change. We did what we should have been doing."

Back pain limits Stoudemire

Amar'e Stoudemire wasn't himself.

Yes, the Boston Celtics' stingy defense certainly played a role in his struggles.

But there's no way to ignore Stoudemire's back problems which left his playing status in limbo shortly before tip-off in Boston's 113-96 Game 3 win.

Stoudemire, noticeably limited when on the floor, had just seven points on 2-for-8 shooting.

And while he expects to play in Game 4 on Sunday, Stoudemire is realistic about the situation.

"There is no way I will be 100 percent by Sunday," he said. "Tonight, I knew I wasn't 100 percent but I also knew my teammates needed me to be out there."

Still, with a limited Stoudemire running up and down the floor, the Celtics did what any veteran team would do - they took advantage of him.

The back pain didn't allow him to explode to the basket off the dribble like he's used to. And when he shot jumpers, there was very little lift on them which resulted in most being either too long or too short.

"Quick moves weren't quite there," Stoudemire admitted. "I couldn't make any sharp, quick moves. It bothered my elevation and driving to the basket."

Although Stoudemire isn't known as a great defender, his athleticism allows him to get his share of blocks - that is, when he's healthy.

"Defensively, (just) trying to be a presence and on the court, trying to be a verbal leader," he said.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni talked about how Stoudemire took Friday's loss hard.

"He was upset," D'Antoni said. "His heart is in a great place. He gave us everything he got. His body is a little bit dead, but I expect him to be ready Sunday."

Adjustments on Melo

Carmelo Anthony is always going to be at or near the top of the scouting report.

After dropping 42 points on the Celtics in Game 2, it was a given that the C's would pay even more attention to the four-time All-star.

That added attention paid off in a dominant defensive showing, as Anthony scored just 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting in the Celtics win.

Paul Pierce, who had a game-high 38 points, was the primary defender on Anthony.

When asked about the changes he made in defending Anthony, Pierce said, "just stayed on his body, for the most part. I thought I got off his body a lot (in Game 2). I just wanted to make him finish over the top, not give him easy ones. For the most part, I think I was able to do that."

But defending Anthony was not a one-man gig.

"They made adjustments, especially defending me," Anthony said. "They doubled. Every time I got the ball, they sent someone over."

When he got the ball in the middle of the post or on the elbow, the Celtics sent help defenders which led to most of Anthony's shots being tightly contested.

"I try to get the ball cross-court and try to loosen the defense up," said Anthony, who had a team-high six assists. "It just seemed liked they weren't loosening up."

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

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
 
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
 
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.