Celtics' 21 turnovers prove too much to overcome
There are plenty of reasons the Celtics fell short Saturday afternoon in their playoff opener against the Knicks.
That the Celtics scored just eight fourth quarter points would be a reasonable place to start, especially when you consider that Boston led by three heading into the fourth.
Then there are Jason Terry’s zero points on 0-5 shooting in 20 minutes. Kevin Garnett making just four of 12 shots and failing to get to the line would seem to have contributed as well.
The main reason though, was Boston’s penchant for giving away the ball. "We had some just bad turnovers tonight," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "If we had those turnovers in any game, we probably should lose the game and we did.”
Boston had 21 turnovers leading to 20 Knicks’ points. New York allowed half that on 13 turnovers. Credit should be given to the Knicks, who racked up an impressive 15 steals, but Rivers said his team gave them too many chances.
“We were making post passes from the other side of the floor. I mean, those are just not good passes."
Rivers also said his team’s spacing was “horrendous” after halftime, when they scored just 25 total points, missing 20 of 27 shots. He attributed the poor spacing and ball movement to Garnett’s lukewarm performance. “We didn’t get him the ball in the right spots,” he said.
To say that the Celtics also need to get more from their bench would be like saying J.R. Smith has a couple of tattoos. That is, it’s an understatement. Boston’s bench scored just four points in the second half (all courtesy of Courtney Lee free throws), while New York’s reserves put up 33.
Still, it wasn’t all bad for the Celtics, who showed they could hang with a red-hot Knicks team entering the playoffs having won 16 of their last 18 regular season games.
While Anthony did put up a game-high 36 points, it took him 29 shots to get there. All told, Boston held the Knicks to 40.5 percent shooting from the field, and came away feeling encouraged about their defensive performance.
“Overall, I’ll take that defense throughout a seven-game series,” Paul Pierce said. “But offensively we have to be better with protecting the ball, and rebounding the ball.”
Both teams finished with 40 rebounds and 30 points in the paint, though New York had a 10-3 advantage on the offensive glass. Boston had the edge in fast break points, 13-7, and were a perfect 19-19 from the line. The Knicks were 12-15.
So yes, they are plenty of reasons the Celtics fell short but the team has found reason to be optimistic, and believes their mistakes are fixable.
“This is one we can learn from,” Pierce said.
The Knicks, meanwhile, are expecting a nothing less.
“It is going to be a battle,” Anthony said. “Game 2 is going to be even tougher and harder.