Celtics coach Doc Rivers probably had no idea of how his words would take form Saturday after saying, “I’ve never gone into any game or series without a point guard on the team.”

No disrespect to Avery Bradley, who is indeed more comfortable playing off the ball, but the absence of Rajon Rondo was bound to start hurting the C’s the most once the playoffs began.

It was never more apparent than down the stretch of Saturday’s Game 1 playoff loss to the New York Knicks. The Celtics turned the ball over seven times in the last 5:30, and generally stumbled over their own bad decision-making.

This is the same team that actually played its best basketball of the season in the two weeks following Rondo’s departure. That was made possible because of the surrogate playmaking of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and an emphasis on ball movement.

Pierce now believes there is a road back to that efficiency, and it has to do with how the Celtics completely botched the way they utilized Garnett on Saturday.

“We’ve got to play through Kevin a lot more,” Pierce said yesterday at the team hotel. “He’s one of our best passers. I mean he’s one of the most unselfish players, so we have to do a better job of getting him the ball, a lot more than he got it yesterday.

“Doc said he wants Kevin to be aggressive, he wants him to take 20 shots, but even when we run plays for Kevin, he’s so responsible that he’s going to find the open man and be responsible with the ball. He usually ends up getting four or five assists. So we have to do a better job of involving him because he’s good at doing a lot of playmaking duties.”