The Celtics are still capable of beating the Knicks and all the evidence you need is found in the first halves of both games. Again, they've put up 101 points in those two halves. If we could just take those two halves and give them both the 2nd halves, we'd be 1-1 with home court advantage stolen. But alas, they still play basketball in the real world and not some odd dimension of silver linings.
So what happens after the half that causes these collapses - in particular on offense? I don't know really, and neither does Doc apparently.
“We have to do something because we’ve come out flat, period. We’ve done all the other stuff, but we’ve come out flat [after] back-to-back halftimes. “As a coach, that’s an alarm and I don’t know what it is. But we have two days to figure out what it was.”
I don't have any more answers than Doc does, but here are several factors that we at least have to look at.
1. Age - This was going to be brought up eventually, so let us get it out of the way right away. Is it possible that Pierce and Garnett are simply too worn out in the 2nd half to carry the load offensively? Could it be that all that rest that KG got in the final weeks of the season took him out of game shape a bit? He's also playing more minutes than he has all year. Oh yeah, and he's also logged some amazing amount of career minutes after skipping college way back when. At some point that catches up with anyone.
2. Adjustments (or lack thereof) - I'm no scout, but as far as I can tell there haven't been any major adjustments by either team after the half. Maybe a small tweak here or there, but most of it has simply been execution. Is Woodson doing that much of a better job of reminding his players how to play the game at the half? Is Woodson giving stirring halftime speeches? I'm a Doc fan, but if anyone can point out something specific that he has or hasn't done to cause the dropoff, I'm more than happy to point some of the blame at him.
Perhaps it is a matchup thing - as pointed out by Dan Duggan.
Felton started Game 2 alongside fellow point guard Pablo Prigioni. That forced the Celtics into an uncomfortable matchup with Paul Pierce trying to stick with a quicker player six inches shorter and seven years his junior. The Knicks further exploited the mismatch by running Felton through pick-and-rolls. When one of the C’s big men switched onto Felton, he took at as an invitation to attack the rim.
You could argue that the Celtics have their own matchup potential on the other side of the floor with Pierce and Green being bigger than whomever the Knicks would throw at them in that lineup. But the Knicks switch all the time, so traditional matchup comparisons tend to go out the window. Maybe Doc needs to go with a smaller lineup to counter the Knicks smallball.
3. Defense leads to offense - One thing that you can say about the first two games is that the Celtics (overall) played good defense and held the Knicks to low point totals. However, the effort hasn't always been consistent throughout the game. The Knicks are able to pick up a few easy baskets which leads to big runs. Doc and others have said that without Rondo, this team needs to be able to run to score buckets. They lack the ball handlers to score in the half court and you can't run without taking the ball away from the other team. (This is another reason why Lee might make a return to the rotation over Crawford)
4. Home court advantage - This is the one that I keep coming to - in part because we're playing the next 2 games at home and it gives me some hope. For role players and even some stars, the hoop just seems bigger at home. Everything feels familiar, the routine is the same, it just feels comfortable. Comfort leads to confidence which leads to buckets. The Knicks had that comfort level for the first 2 games and used it to their advantage. Can the Celtics do the same in Boston?
There may be more reasons, but that's what I was able to come up with. What are your theories?