The Celtics need to bottle up Carmelo Anthony if they hope to get back into the series. (Getty Images) The Celtics need to bottle up Carmelo Anthony if they hope to get back into the series. (Getty Images)

The majority of Celtics backers wanted to see the Knicks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Nobody wanted the Heat, for obvious reasons, and not many wanted the Pacers.

The Knicks were thought to be the C’s best chance. After all, typical playoff duds Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith lead them, and the team never exactly played great defense.

Perhaps the C’s could swing the home-court advantage their way, and cruise to the second round. All that has now come to a screeching halt.

 

Here’s the reality: Boston goes into Friday's Game 3 in a must-win scenario down 0-2 in the series. They don’t have a choice but to click, and Kevin Garnett knows it.

"When you're down 0-2 to a good team that's playing really well, that has a rhythm, desperation is definitely in play," Garnett told reporters Thursday. "We can't afford to think otherwise. This is it. We cannot go down 0-3 to any team, I feel like in the postseason. It'd be a very difficult situation to put yourself in."

The C’s deserve the hole they find themselves in. The Knicks have done something in both games that Boston hasn't – played four quarters of basketball.

In Game 1, Boston scored just 25 points in the second half – a then new Celtics playoff low for a half in the shot clock era. How did they follow that up? By breaking that record and scoring just 23 points in Game 2’s second half, yet another blown second-half lead.

Without a true point guard, the C’s seem to be running around like chickens without heads. What’s worse, their “big” lineup featuring Jeff Green hasn’t worked out. Since the 2nd half of Game 1, Green is a combined 4-16 for 16 points and six rebounds. But he’s not the only poor performer.

“Well, we’ve come out flat twice [in the second half],” Rivers told reporters. “I don’t know why that is. But they put a lot of pressure on us … They scored a ton of points, 32 in the third quarter. We took the ball out and they pressured us.”

Replacing Green with Courtney Lee doesn’t seem like an option either, as Doc Rivers has elected to play Jordan Crawford ahead of Lee off the bench.

That highlights an issue that has plagued Boston for most of the season: inconsistency.

There’s plenty still to sort out – but Boston is running out of time.

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