After allowing the Knicks to haul in a whopping 20 offensive rebounds in Game 2, controlling the glass was a focus for the Celtics in Game 3 and Boston responded by producing a 43-33 edge (matching its +10 effort from Game 1).
Highlighted by 12 rebounds from Kevin Garnett and 11 more from Rajon Rondo (as part of his sixth career postseason triple-double), the Celtics not only won the rebounding war, but turned 13 offensive caroms into 23 second-chance points. The Knicks still converted 12 offensive rebounds into 15 second-chance points, but it wasn't nearly as egregious as Tuesday night in Boston.
“[Offensive rebounding] wasn’t a focus," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We got them because we spread them out a little bit. More importantly, we didn’t allow [New York offensive rebounds] because we weren’t in bad help positions. The only thing we did was what we should have done: If you are going to go [help on defense], you go, but you get back to a body. There was no change. We simply did what we should be doing."
It didn't hurt Boston's cause that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were on fire shooting the ball, limiting the amount of available rebounds for the Knicks. And the Celtics surely learned their lesson in Game 2.
"We said that [defensive rebounding was] the emphasis of the day going into the practice yesterday," said Pierce, "We've got to hit them first. When we looked up at the board, we saw minus- on the rebounds and minus-11 on the free throws [attempts in Game 2]. That's the advantage [the Knicks] had in the last game, so we wanted to really make an emphasis of putting bodies on people, boxing out."
Added Garnett: "One of the things we worked on in practice is rebounding better off the help. We are a help defensive team, but our second effort has to be a lot more valid and I thought tonight we did just that. I also thought there are times when, usually the ball hits the rim, you sort of sit there and watch. Tonight, we got bodies on bodies and were able to get some rebounds."
--LAYUP LINE: PIERCE & MSG; C'S PLAY THEIR OWN D--
* Pierce on thriving in a hostile environment like Madison Square Garden: "I just mentally, when they cheer, I feel like they're cheering for me. I just look at it that way, so I don't ever feel like I'm not at home. It's all mental, man. You can feed off of it or you can just let it scare you and you can be nervous. You've got to find ways to psych yourself out and just use it for energy. That's what I try to do, especially when you're in a tough road crowd like tonight."
* New York's Amare Stoudemire (back spasms) logged only 17:39 of action and didn't see a whole lot of touches during that time. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Stoudemire was on the court for 76 plays during Game 3 and got at least one touch on just 16 of them (21.1 percent). The other Knicks star, Carmelo Anthony, had at least one touch on 56 of the 80 plays he was on the court (70.0 percent).
* After stressing that the Celtics made no changes during Game 2 to start neutralizing hot-shooting Anthony, Rivers again stressed that Boston simply focused on its own game plan while having success, defensively, in Game 3.
“We don’t change our defense very often," said Rivers. "We just try to play our defense and I didn’t think we did a very good job of that in Game 2. Carmelo is a great player and he just made some tough shots. When he missed shots, I thought they got offensive rebounds. I thought we were in better rebounding position today and that was big for us.”