Celtics believe their mistakes are correctable in Game 2
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These are not your older brother's Boston Celtics.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are still wearing the green-and-white, serving as reminders of yesteryear when the Celtics were a perennial championship contender. But the rest of their roster bares little resemblance to those glory days.
Coach Doc Rivers was quick to admit that much Monday as his team of Garnett, Pierce and everyone else gathered at Madison Square Garden to prepare for Game 2 of their best-of-seven series Tuesday night.
Asked before practice about how this year's team struggled on the road during the regular season far more than Rivers' first eight Celtics teams, Rivers admitted that's a concern. Then he explained why.
"I've said it before, this is not that group," Rivers said. "That's what I keep [saying], this is not the group we've had. This is a bunch of new guys with two guys, you know, because without [Rajon] Rondo you have Kevin and Paul. So it's not that group, if you know what I'm saying? That's the difference."
Not that Rivers is about to wave the proverbial white flag so early, trailing just one game to none. But his candid admission that this team is unlike previous years -- including the squad that swept the Knicks in the first round two years ago -- says a lot about how the power has shifted in the East.
While the Knicks amassed a 54-win season, the Celtics have been a work in progress since they lost Rondo to a torn ACL in January. They limped into the postseason having lost 11 of their final 16 regular-season games and nine of their final 11 on the road.
Yet they also almost won Game 1 of this series, giving them reason to be optimistic.
They led the Knicks by seven late in the third quarter and, if not for their offensive breakdown in an eight-point fourth quarter, perhaps they're the ones leading the series right now.
So as frustrating as their Game 1 loss was, the way they played in the first half gives them confidence.
"If you say we're going to hold a team over a seven-game series to 40-percent shooting and 85 points per game," Pierce said, "I like our chances."
The Celtics met in a conference room at their hotel on Sunday morning to watch Game 1 on television to see what went wrong, and Rivers said Monday, "The film never lies."
Added Pierce, "What we didn't do well was pretty obvious."
Back on the court Monday for the first time since Game 1, the Celtics looked to clean up the mistakes that led their offense coming unglued late in the second half.
Better ball movement and spacing and involving Garnett more in half-court sets are high on their list.
"I'm just going to keep repeating it," Garnett said. "We need to apply the corrections we've made to the game [tonight]."