Monday, April 15, 2013
Practice: Getting to the Knicks
By Chris Forsberg
WALTHAM, Mass. -- With the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks locked in for the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, it's no surprise that all the chatter at Monday's practice session centered on the series.
That didn't stop Celtics coach Doc Rivers from playfully scolding reporters by declaring, "We’re playing Indiana tomorrow!" when the first question was asked about the Knicks. But Rivers didn't shy away from talk about the matchup -- even if he threw in a subtle jab about the Knicks winning the Atlantic Division this season.
"No, it’ll be a fun series. Obviously, they earned winning the Central -- or whatever division we are in," said Rivers, who has noted in the past how the Celtics don't hang division title banners up among their 17 championship ones. "Listen, [the Knicks] had a hell of a year, you talk about Carmelo [Anthony] and all that, but they’ve had a lot of injuries, too, that people don’t talk about. I think [coach Mike Woodson has] done an amazing job. You know going in they are well coached and they have some great players."
Asked about the challenges facing a team like New York, Rivers honed in on one in particular.
"Carmelo," he said. "He’s their best player. But they have a lot of good players. And they have veterans, which is rare that we go into a series where a team is older than us and has more veterans, but they do, and that always plays well in the playoffs. They are going to be a very, very difficult opponent."
As for those other two games remaining on the schedule? Rivers noted, "I'm going to play guys [Tuesday vs. Indiana] and then play some guys the next day [in Toronto]. We really haven't gone over it yet, but we’re going to move things around for sure."
Asked if these final two games amount to exhibitions, Rivers added: "No, guys still want to play. They want to get in -- and stay in -- rhythm. Some guys need some minutes, so they want to do that."
* PIERCE (ILLNESS) SITS OUT: Celtics captain Paul Pierce is battling a stomach bug and was told to stay home from practice on Monday. He's still expected to play during Tuesday's visit from the Pacers. Rivers might joke that he's got a touch of the veteran's flu (it typically passes quickly after practice days).
* TERRY OUT VS. PACERS: Rivers said veteran guard Jason Terry will sit out his second consecutive game on Tuesday and noted the 35-year-old might do the same on Wednesday unless he lobbies for floor time. Is something ailing him? "No, just his legs have been bothering him and so we want to make sure he has no issues going into the playoffs," said Rivers. Terry's attitude about these final two games seems to suggest he'll take the extended rest before the postseason. "Definitely blow past them," said Terry. "It’s like these games, I don’t know what they’re for, but they’re on the schedule. They’ve got to be played. We know who we’re playing in the first round and that’s the more important thing."
* MELO RECALLED FROM MAINE: With the Red Claws eliminated from the opening round of the D-League playoffs, the Celtics formally recalled rookie center Fab Melo on Monday. While he's unlikely to see any playoff action (barring an emergency situation), Melo will get to be around the team for the postseason experience. Melo's final line in Maine: 9.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and a D-League best 3.1 blocks per game in 33 regular-season appearances. Melo averaged 8.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two postseason games versus Rio Grande Valley.