Entering Game 3, interim coach John Carroll knew Boston needed a change. Something, anything, to reverse the team's fortunes in its first-round playoff series against Indiana.
He contemplated starting Ricky Davis in place of Jiri Welsch. But he also knew poor starts were not a problem. That said, Carroll gave more minutes to Davis later in the game, at the expense of Welsch. Davis led the team with 16 points in 35 minutes.
"I thought after the second quarter we needed something else," said Carroll. "I love Jiri Welsch. I love him as a player, but I thought we needed something different."
Welsch did not expect the move. And the starting small forward was puzzled by his 21-minute stint, though he still finished with 11 points and 2 rebounds.
"I didn't play much, but you have to ask Coach, because I don't know what happened," said Welsch. "They made a decision and they went with it. I'm a player and I cannot do anything about that. I am frustrated about the game, but not about [playing time]."
Aching for minutes
Kenny Anderson did not play during Game 1 or Game 2, the only player on the Indiana playoff roster who can lay claim to that dubious distinction.
While Anderson would like more of a role in the Pacers' first-round series with the Celtics, he simply shrugged off his lack of playing time. After starting early in the season before a calf injury pushed him to third on the Pacers' point guard depth chart, Anderson tries to remain positive.
"I'm just waiting, you know it's a long playoff series, each series," said Anderson, who played six minutes last night and scored 4 points in the Pacers' 108-85 blowout. "I'm just being prepared, trying to get my workouts in and mentally being negative-free. [Indiana coach] Rick [Carlisle] knows I'm ready, if he wants to throw me out there."
At the request of Anderson and his agent, the Pacers had lined up a couple of trade possibilities for the 33-year-old as the trading deadline neared in mid-February. But when presented with the option of heading to Detroit or Toronto, Anderson decided to remain in Indiana with a team and coach he knew and liked.
"Sometimes the grass is not greener on the other side," said Anderson. "I just wanted to finish the year out here. Whatever the future holds for me, I'll deal with it down the road. But right now, I'm a Pacer. I would like to play. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm 100 percent happy. I would like to be out there on the court, but that's out of my control.
"What I can control is being ready when my number is called."
Anderson said he would look at all options after the season, including a possible, though unlikely, return to Boston.
The soldout crowd at the FleetCenter probably had a better idea of what Larry Bird accomplished during his 13-year career with the Celtics than the 20-something players who currently constitute the Pacers, many of whom were still in elementary school when Bird retired in 1992.
When asked if the Pacers respected him for being Larry Bird, Indiana's president of basketball operations joked, "Only if they watch Classic Sports. I think we have a mutual respect. I respect a lot of these guys the way they work, the way they conduct themselves. They're going to have problems. But this year, they won a lot of games, so [that would] eliminate a lot of the problems around here."
Bird watched the game next to Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra from a perch about 10 rows behind center court.
It can get worse
The Celtics suffered their worst home playoff loss in franchise history. The previous largest margin of defeat at home occurred April 13, 1972, a 116-94 loss to the Knicks. It was Boston's worst playoff loss since a 124-77 loss at Orlando April 28, 1995 . . . In Carlisle's estimation, nothing compared with the playoff atmosphere at Boston Garden. And as someone who played in the playoffs at the Garden and coached postseason games at the FleetCenter, Carlisle should know. That said, Carlisle knew his players would not take anything for granted given the intensity of the FleetCenter crowds. When asked if he got some of the same feelings walking into the FleetCenter as he did Boston Garden, Carlisle said, "Somewhat. That's about as far as I can go. The other place is like walking into the Vatican of basketball to me." . . . Jermaine O'Neal, who missed Indiana's practice Thursday because of a sinus infection, started last night and finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds in 28 minutes, even though he was not 100 percent . . . "If we could make a trade right now that would help us, I'd be all for it," said Celtics coach John Carroll. "Maybe we could bring in Shaq [O'Neal] or Jason Kidd." . . . Best wishes to Joe Durkin. Last night was his last game as senior director of marketing. Durkin worked for the organization for 18 years. He is leaving to take a job with a sports event management company . . . Patriot Rosevelt Colvin was spotted watching the game from the sideline opposite the Celtics' bench. Other famous faces in the building included Red Auerbach and Robert Parish.
** Officially, they were "enhancements" to the Green Team, the group of the men and women that toss T-shirts into the stands during timeouts. But the fact that the "enhancements" were all attractive young women in tight sleeveless tops did not go unnoticed. The Celtics took pains to point out that the women did not dance, so they were not technically a dance team. But one has to wonder if the Celtics are headed in that direction. "We made a conscious decision to amp up our game entertainment," said Rich Gotham, executive vice president of sales and corporate development. "The ideas is to give fans more entertainment because the playoffs are a special time of year. We wanted to enhance our Green Team, our promotional team, and get more fan interaction." . . .