Did it hurt the game plan when KG got into early foul trouble in the first and second quarters? Without a doubt.
But that is when the Celtics actually played their best and had their leads during the game. They lost that game all on their own in the second half, actually trumping their historically abysmal Game 1 second half performance.
Clearly it didn’t help, as Doc pointed out:
Specifically, Rivers was angry at the foul calls against Kevin Garnett, who scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but was saddled with foul trouble from the start. He picked up two fouls in the first quarter and ended up playing 24 minutes.
“Listen, I thought the fouls on Kevin, first of all they were horrendous,” Rivers said after the Celtics fell in to a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series that shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday.
“And secondly, I thought they had a huge effect on us,” Rivers continued. “Kevin had three fouls that . . . I was . . . I mean, him not being on the floor, playing 24 minutes and never getting your rhythm, where you could see, it looked like he was going to have a game, it hurt us.
“That’s just the way it goes. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I thought if it could’ve gone either way on three of those, they all went against Kevin. I think that’s tough.”
Garnett was a key part of the Celtics’ plans coming into the game. They wanted to establish him early, unlike in Game 1. Garnett did make the Celtics’ first shot, but he picked up two quick fouls and had three by halftime.
He picked up another foul in the third quarter, after which he slammed the ball to the court several times out of frustration.
“At times, it’s frustrating, but fouls are part of the game,” Garnett said. “Refs are calling things but it’s an aggressive time in postseason play. I just have to be consistent and position myself not to foul so much.”
Doc is a smart guy and there are two things going on here:
1) he’s complaining publicly so his players don’t
2) he’s setting the stage for Game 3 in Boston.
Now, what he said was true and I’d be shocked if the whistles don’t go the C’s way at home on Friday night. The Knicks and Celtics actually were relatively even in both fouls (BOS -20, NYK – 17) and FTA’s (BOS – 18, NYK – 22). The Knicks dominated the Celtics in so many aspects last night, including flopping. We know Doc wasn’t happy with the officiating so when he watches the film and sees some of these gems, he might even chuckle a bit. Well, actually he probably won’t. Can’t imagine Doc is smiling about much right now:
Photo credit: Jim Davis/Boston Globe