Crawford ready for more minutes, shots
NEW YORK -- Celtics guard Jordan Crawford did two things for the first time in his career in the opening game of Boston's first-round playoff series with the New York Knicks Saturday: He played in the postseason and he played more than 10 minutes without taking a single field goal.
Crawford's attempt-less final line stood out more, as he doesn't usually hesitate to fire away at the rim. But he shouldn't be in for a repeat performance in Tuesday's Game 2, at least if Celtics head coach Doc Rivers can stick to his planned adjustments. After Saturday's 85-78 loss, and in the days since, Rivers has highlighted Crawford as someone he wants to play more, not only for his pure scoring ability, but for his capabilities as a playmaker.
"I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half," Rivers said. "It’s funny, he didn’t score, but he created baskets. He created that 3 at the end of the (first quarter) because he has the ability to do that. And, I’ll tell you, he’s buying in defensively and if he can continue to do that, then he has a chance to help us."
When the Celtics first acquired Crawford from the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline in February, they did so knowing he had the potential to swing games in their favor, through his confidence in his offensive game and his ability to knock down shots from virtually any spot on the floor. He said Monday that doing so requires playing the way he has his whole career.
"Play my game, the game I continue to play that got me here that Doc Rivers wants me to play," Crawford said. "So I'm just trying to help them win any way...Just be precise, don't second guess nothing, be precise. Whatever you think to do, do it quick. If you make a mistake, do it hard."
Crawford said he didn't feel overwhelmed by his first taste of a playoff atmosphere. Instead, he said Game 1 was a nice opportunity to get a feel for the postseason, and his greatest takeaway was the importance of not changing his game, despite the bigger stage.
"More than anything, be yourself, be confident," Crawford said. "I really wanted to see if it was any different, if the intensity picked up or anything. But it's pretty much the same, games just matter more."
Rivers credited Crawford for not trying to do too much -- something younger players are often guilty of in their first postseason game.
"I thought he was good. He stayed in his lane, let’s put it that way," Rivers said. "He didn’t go outside of it. And usually guys in their first game, young guys do one or the other. They don’t do anything, and I thought he did far better than that. Or they try to do too much. I thought he was pretty much under control, emotionally."
But the Celtics will need more out of Crawford, and when the expected increase in minutes does arrive, staying in control will be crucial for him. It doesn't require Crawford changing his game, but instead adhering to the better part of it. The Crawford package is accepting the bundle of wilder and sometimes unpredictable play with the potential for a high volume scoring game. But Rivers is hoping for more of the latter in this series.
"Just to be solid, not to turn the ball over and just be an aggressive scorer," Rivers said of what he's expecting from Crawford. "Give us good defensive minutes. And I think he’s capable of doing that."
As for why he didn't take any shots, Crawford offered simply, "I was trying to make sure I made my first shot."
He'll get another opportunity Tuesday. If Crawford can do what Rivers is asking, not only should it translate to first career playoff field goal attempt (and make?), but quite possibly his first career playoff victory.
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