Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Knicks Defense + Celtics Offense = Boston 71-Knicks 87

Yep, she's back...just in time for the Playoffs!
Folks, that's really what it comes down to. The bench finally gave us some production and -- for the game -- four Celtics scored in double figures, though no one scored more than 18. The Knicks had only three players score more than 6 points, but when one of your three double-figure scorers -- of course I mean Carmelo -- rings up 34 all on his own and you're walking the ball up to get into a half-court offense that you don't actually have...well, ballgame: Knicks.

I will solemnly admit: I was fond of telling anyone who would listen that the Celtics booted away Game 1 by posting more turnovers than points in the 4th quarter and that really, it was our game to give away, but this one...this one, we just appeared to be out of our depth.

Was it the early (and some would call them awful) foul calls by the refs against Garnett, Pierce and Green that slowed everything down to a crawl? It didn't help, that's for sure. Was it an active but seemingly stuck-in-3rd gear Paul Pierce, who dropped 18 as the team high-scorer but never really got into the kind of groove you can depend on for the entire game? That wasn't great, but still, not the answer. Was it Jeff Green going from stud to dud from Game 1 to Game 2, contrasting his 26 points  on 8-15 shooting against tonight's 10 points on an embarrassingly meek 3-11 shooting performance? That REALLY didn't help, but again...there was something else at work, something more disturbing.

It was the Knicks defense that did us in this night. And this was with a formerly dependable defensive weapon like Tyson Chandler being rendered ineffectual by a bulging disk in his neck.

I could go into detail about the game and about how Ray Felton carved up the Celtics defense like it was a Thanksgiving Day turkey and he was...well, probably how he usually is (what I'm saying is, the kid doesn't look like he misses a lot of Thanksgivings. Or meals, in general. Or snacks. Or...). I could talk about how KG couldn't get into a rhythm because of the ludicrous fouls that were being called (which also affected Pierce and Green as they attempted to guard the apparently un-guardable mythological holy basketball god known as (Don't-Put-Your-Hand-On-This-Fellow) Melo. And, I could talk about how much I am growing to loathe the "wind up Jordan Crawford and watch him go" offense as it stagnates the rest of the team flow. But, none of these is more relevant than the brand of fiery, hostile tenacious defense that was played by the Knicks when the clock struck "winning time."

Can the Celtics get it back? Yes. Do I think they'll come back home and reel off two convincing wins at the Garden? Actually, I really, really do. Am I smoking a very large combination of Crack and PCP? No, I am not, and I am offended that you even asked.

As absolutely crazy banana go nuts as you think this may sound, I think we've seen the best that the Knicks have to offer and we have seen about 65% of what the Celtics have to offer in any one game. The Celtics can be markedly better on offense and they can be exponentially better on their defense. All they need is to A) stop trying to play Playoff walk-it-up basketball and try to get out on the run on almost every possession. They have the horses for it, so why not make it a race? and B) Turn up the defense back to where it was only a few short weeks ago and guard the paint a little bit better from the Felton's of the world. Also, the refs will HAVE to be better than they were in New York with respect to benefit-of-the-doubt calls like those Carmelo was given in MSG.

One last thing...can I tell you how much I wished I could jump through my television screen so that I could grab Tommy (who I normally love, respect and agree with) Heinsohn by his jacket collars and scream into his bewildered face, "RAJON RONDO IS NOT COMING THROUGH THAT DOOR, SO WOULD YOU PLEASE...FOR PISTOL PETE'S SAKE...STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM!!!"

No, I will not accept Rondo as the excuse for not taking better care of the basketball in Game 1 and I flatly and absolutely refuse to mention his name when it's clear that the team has stepped away from their brand of fast-break passing-game basketball that they were winning with AFTER Rondo went down.

I will agree with one thing about Rondo, though. If the Celtics can't find their fast-break offense in the next two games, hell, for the series...they'll all be joining him in wearing civilian clothes by the start of next week.

Tale of the Tape

Box Score


NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs -- Round 1, Game 3:
Celtics vs. Knicks
Friday, April 26th, 2013
@ 8:00 P.M.
The Boston Garden
Boston, MA

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