NEW YORK – The New York Knicks not only expect a Boston adjustment, they can guess what it is.
The Celtics never could have accomplished so much over the last six years with as little as they got from Kevin Garnett on Saturday in their playoff opener.
So when the teams return to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday for Game 2, Boston plans to feature much more of Garnett, along with the usual dose of Paul Pierce.
The response from the Knicks is basically: Go ahead.
“They’re going to come back but we’ve got to worry about ourselves,” Carmelo Anthony said. “As long as we do what we have to do, we have a shot and we have a chance at winning the game. We can’t be too concerned about what them guys are going to do.”
Garnett was just 4 of 12 from the field in the Knicks’ 85-78 victory on Saturday.
Perhaps out of rhythm from his lack of game action down the stretch, he finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
“We’ve got to involve him more and there’s a better way to do it than the way we did it,” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said.
“And there’s certain things that he didn’t do, either. We’ve just got to do a better job of it.”
Garnett played in only five of the final 17 games of the regular season, mostly while battling an ankle injury, and was on the floor for nearly 37 minutes Saturday.
But on a day the Celtics got only four points from their reserves and needed much more from their starters, Garnett finished with more fouls than baskets and never attempted a free throw.
“We know we’ve got to play through Kevin a lot more. I mean, he’s probably, he is one of our best passers,” Pierce said Sunday.
“He’s one of our most unselfish players, so we have to do a better job of just getting him the ball, a lot more than he got it yesterday. Doc said he wanted Kevin to be aggressive, he wants him to take 20 shots.”
Part of the problem is the Celtics’ lack of a point guard with Rajon Rondo lost for the season with a knee injury. Boston often struggled to get into any offense, especially during its eight-point fourth quarter, and finished the game with 21 turnovers.
Even if Garnett doesn’t shoot, the Celtics think he can help in that area because of his passing skills.