- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics' locker room brimmed with anger following Friday's Game 3 loss to the New York Knicks. Players were mad at themselves for missed shots that helped put Boston in an 0-3 series hole and further perturbed by the way the Knicks showboated on the TD Garden floor en route to a 14-point victory in an Eastern Conference first-round series.
Before the Celtics watched film Saturday at their practice facility, Avery Bradley and his teammates described a subdued and unhappy postgame locker room as Boston's season moved to the brink of extinction.
"It was quiet in the locker room yesterday," said Bradley. "Everybody was real mad yesterday. Nobody was saying anything. Usually [coach] Doc [Rivers] talks and then [Kevin Garnett] and those guys talk to keep us all level, let us know that we've got to continue playing hard. But yesterday after the game, everybody was quiet and pretty mad."
Rivers and the veterans eventually spoke up, offering words of encouragement about trying to do what no team in NBA history has done by rallying from an 0-3 hole. For a Celtics team that can't get out of its own way through three games, it starts with simply executing on offense and making shots.
"The frustration with us is knowing the type of game that we had with everything that we've missed -- the layups, the open shots, the stuff that we can control," said Jeff Green. "We normally make those layups and those open shots and I think it was more frustrated with ourselves as far as how the game was played out and how we determined how the game ended."
But the Celtics were also peeved at watching the Knicks celebrate highlight plays while putting the game out of reach.
"That's what made us so mad, so angry," said Bradley. "We've just got to go out there and play the right way. We've got to not let that happen again. After the game, somebody said it right after we got in the locker room, said, 'Oh they're showboating and they're dunking,' and everybody kind of looked like, 'Oh, you're right.' But all we can do is go out there and play the right way and play hard and don't give them a chance to showboat at all."
As Jason Terry noted, "You can be angry all you want, but how are you going to channel that anger? Are you going to fight among yourselves or are you going to come out and fight the opponent? And that's what we must do. We must come out against these guys that are kicking your butt."
Read on for notes on J.R. Smith's elbow to Terry and lineup chatter from Rivers:
JET ON SMITH ELBOW: 'NO COMMENT'
The day after eating a J.R. Smith elbow, Terry still wasn't in the mood to talk about the flagrant-2 foul that left Smith ejected and Terry looking for a confrontation. The 14th-year guard offered a simple 'No comment,' when asked about the incident. Asked later if he'd have additional motivation from the elbow, Terry responded, "No question."
Terry said he expects to play with additional passion -- not because of the elbow -- but with Boston facing elimination.
"I'm coming out with something. I'm going to come out with the heart, the passion, the energy that's needed to get a win," said Terry. "We have to do that collectively. One man's not going to be able to provide that. It has to be a collective unit and we've got to get it done together."
Asked if Smith's elbow could spark the Celtics, Rivers said he hoped that wouldn't be the catalyst for his team.
"I hope it doesn't take that," he said. "Really, what is it going to do? Get us mad?"
Informed it clearly got Terry upset, Rivers quipped, "Well, he should be, he's the one who got hit. [Shoot], I'd be mad, too."
STAYING SMALL WITH LINEUP?
Rivers said he was undecided if he'd go back to a smaller starting lineup with Terry in the backcourt alongside Avery Bradley to provide some additional ball-handling help.
"Honestly, the plus/minus numbers tell us the small lineup is better. But I'm not so sure," said Rivers. "Let me just put it this way: No lineup has been very good so far in this series. But our small lineups have been better than when we've gone bigger. Having said that, I'm still not so sure. Sometimes you gotta go against the numbers, and sometimes you go with it. I don't know which one I'm doing yet."
Brandon Bass, one of Boston's most consistent contributors early in the series, was not particularly effective off the bench after being shuffled to the reserve role, while Bradley had a quiet night despite spending more time in the off-guard role.
For his part, Terry noted, "Don't know what the lineup is, don't know from that aspect of it. But if I do [start], obviously it gives you another ball-handler out there. Hopefully we can get in our sets a little better than what we have been, and we'll see what happens."
LOOSE BALLS: PIERCE AND THE FUMBLES
* After captain Paul Pierce had another turnover-plagued game and couldn't escape a case of the fumbles at times, Rivers noted, "That just happens, unfortunately. This is almost a mean statement, you wish it would happen to someone else. Not your key guy. He had one where, just trying to catch the ball and move it to the wide-open Jason Terry, he fumbled it right into [Iman] Shumpert's hands. I don't know why that happens in games. It does, it happens to everyone. Obviously, last night, we just couldn't have it happen, and it did. But I know Paul came to play, and that's the point I'm making. He just kinda struggled, and it happens."
* The Celtics planned to simply watch film Saturday while resting up for Sunday's matinee start. Boston isn't looking any further than Game 4. "You have to focus on the single game," Rivers said. "You can't win four without winning one. It's funny, all the cliches and all that, some of them are true. You can have a cliche that's true. They all play into the truth in this: We have to have single-game focus."
14dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford