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Celtics cruise by Knicks to complete the sweep

Boston swept their first round playoff matchup against the New York Knicks, by the game 4 final score of 101-89. Boston dominated most of the game, except for the final 6 in the 3rd, and opening 6 in the 4th. Boston had a 22 point lead at one point, and the game was never really in jeopardy. Chauncey Billups was out again due to injury, and Amare Stoudemire was a pathetic 5-20 from the field. The Knicks only offense was, again, Carmelo Anthony. Boston had contributions from every one of the “Big 4”, and the bench provided 25 points. It was a good game for Boston, but another terrible game for New York. So how exactly did this game play out?

1st Half

The game started with a charging penalty against Stoudemire. New York had a much better tempo to start this game. The Knicks were battling early, and the game was tied 10-10 just 4 minutes into the game. In those 4 minutes, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo came up limping after being tripped up. Both players would be fine though, which is a huge sigh of relief for this team. They can’t afford to lose anybody with the way the bench has played. Another scary thing for Boston, is that Amare looked good early. He started looking like himself, and like his back wasn’t going to hinder him. He wasn’t scoring, but he was at least playing more physical. This game looked like it would be a tough one for the Celtics to steal at MSG. Rajon Rondo has been pretty dominant in the 1st quarter, scoring 9 points and getting 5 assists. Carmelo was carrying the Knicks, scoring 15 of the Knicks 23 points. The 1st quarter ended with a slim 29-23 Boston lead. Glen Davis was hot to start the 2nd quarter, hitting his 4th of 5 shot attempts. If he can get going, then Boston might have a man on the bench to provide some life. This would be huge going forward for the C’s. Amare was 0-7 to through the 2nd quarter, which is not good if the Knicks are going to extend this series. Then, off a break, Larry Fields had a chance for a bucket. He was fouled hard by Delonte West, and then he stood over him for a moment underneath the bucket. Stoudemire came in and gave him a shove, and double technicals were issued. Hard fouls are a part of playoff games, but please, don’t stand over the guy like your such a bad man. Just pathetic Delonte. He needs to start scoring some more, and then I won’t care if he decides to take a picture over the next guy he fouls hard. Halfway through the 2nd, Boston went on a 9-1 run, and had a 42-28 lead. The Knicks went around 5 minutes without scoring a bucket. The Knicks look terrible, and Carmelo is the only Knick doing anything. He has 19 points and 5 rebounds, and Amare is just 1-10. Rajon Rondo is leading the Celtics with 13 points and six assists, while Big Baby Davis is providing points off the bench,with 12 points and five rebounds. The 2nd quarter ends, and Boston has a commanding 55-38 lead.

2nd Half

The Celtics started fast in the 3rd quarter, going on a 7-3 run. Boston pushed their lead to 21. KG was looking great, going 5-6 in the game. The Celtics were cruising in the 3rd, maintaing a 20 point lead midway through the quarter. Carmelo also had 21 points at the midway point. New York got a couple fast breaks off of Boston miscues, and went on a 6-0 run. The Knicks were able to close the lead to 10. New York was able to end the 3rd quarter on a 31-18 run. The Boston lead was 82-72 heading into the 4th, and possibly the final quarter in this series. The Knicks continued their hot play in the 4th, and closed the lead to just 4 points. What was once a forgone conclusion, is now turning into a possible collapse by the C’s. Midway through the 4th, Boston started to get its lead back up. After a 3-pointer from Anthony Carter, Ray Allen hit a 3 of his own. Boston was feeling it, and looked like they might close this game out. Rondo goes up for an around the basket lay-up, and instead passes out to Garnett, who drained the jumper. Garnett hit a couple nice baskets, and Boston didn’t let this one slip away. They finished the game (and the series) 101-89.

Post-Game Breakdown

This was a good, and bad game for the Celtics. Boston looked dominant at some points in this game, but in the 4th, New York looked much better. If the Knicks played as hard all game as they did in the 4th, I’m not so sure Boston would have won this game. And if they did win, it would have been by 2, not 12 points. KG and Rondo dominated the game. Garnett had 26 points and 10 rebounds. Rondo had 21 points with 12 assists. Carmelo had a great night, scoring 32 points and 3 assists. Stoudemire had 19 points and 12 rebounds. However, Amare was only 5-20 from the field. If he could have hit more shots, the Knicks would have had a much better chance to win (especially with their 4th quarter surge). The bench ended with a pretty good game for the Celtics. They still have much room for improvement, but it was good to see some production. Especially when that production comes from Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who had 14 points. Following the sweep, Boston is now 20-2 against the Knicks in their last 22 meetings, including 8-0 this season. The C’s have also won 13 straight against New York. The Knicks will have to wait an 11th year to see if they can get a playoff win.

Boston has now set themselves up for a likely duel with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals. This would be a very interesting series, and I think this is a series everyone wants to see. All the people in Boston want to see LeBron James take a giant face-plant with his “Super Team” in Miami, and prove that experience and heart beat pure talent alone. Meanwhile, the people in Miami want to prove that LeBron is the greatest player in league history, and is a part of the greatest team money can buy. I personally am looking forward to watching LeBron take a giant dump in his pants when the going gets tough it that series. If that is the series we see, I predict that Boston wins it in 6, possibly 7 games. Boston should have swept the season series, and with the extra rest for their stars, I feel very confident heading into the potential series.

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C’s cruise to game 3 victory. Lead series 3-0

There really wasn’t much to report on this game. Boston routed the Knicks in game 3, 113-96. The C’s offense was lead by Pierce, Allen, and Rondo, with the bench being ineffective. Meanwhile, the Knicks had Anthony on offense, and that was it. He was barely there once the 2nd half started. He scored just 5 points in the 2nd half. Stoudemire was active for the game, but very ineffective. He didn’t even reach double-digits in the game. Chauncey Billups remained inactive. Now, on to the game that was.

1st Half

This was not a good game for the Knicks from the get go. It began with a shot clock violation, and then Boston went down the court to record the first basket of the game. Paul Pierce started the game with 7 of Boston’s 9 points. Boston was able to jump out to a 22-5 lead with 4:11 left in the 1st quarter. The Knicks mounted a comeback, and went on a 15-5 run to end the 1st quarter. It was 27-20 heading into the 2nd. Boston didn’t start the 2nd quarter all that well. The bench provided little support. Boston’s once 17 point lead was now just 5. The Boston offense was again only provided by three guys, Pierce, Allen, and Rondo. It’s been the same story in the first two games. Luckily, the Knicks were playing awful. Stoudemire was ineffective, and Carmelo had 10 of the 33 Knick points with 5:25 left in the 2nd. He needed to be more effective though for the Knicks to win this game. Pierce had 17 to end the 2nd, and Ray Allen had 16. If the Knicks were going to win this game, they needed somebody to back up Carmelo’s play. With Billups out, and Stoudemire ineffective, it was not looking good heading in to the 2nd half down 52-44.

2nd Half

The Celtics started the 2nd half with a 3-pointer from Ray Allen, and then Paul Pierce. Quickly, Boston was out to an 11 point lead. Halfway through the 3rd quarter, Rondo scored his 9th point, to go along with 13 assists and 9 rebounds. This was the Celtics show from the get-go. KG summed up the night by slamming home a dunk off a crazy pass from Rondo. They went on a 12-2 run to start the 3rd, and their 11 point lead was now a 21 point lead. Ronny Turiaf scored at the 6:52 mark, and the Knicks went over 4 minutes without another bucket. The Celtics ended the 3rd quarter with a 86-63 lead. The Knicks started the 4th quarter well, going on a 7-0 run. But the C’s did not falter in this game. Ray Allen ended up hitting eight 3-pointers in the game. That was just 1 shy of a playoff record. Anthony ended with just 15 points after scoring 10 in the 1st half. New York looked terrible, and Boston won this game easily 113-96.

Post-Game Breakdown

This one was a laugher at MSG from the start, and Boston made sure to finish this game. I imagine that this is what game 2 would have looked like if they could have finished that game. Paul Pierce ended the night with 38 points on six 3’s, Ray Allen had 32 points on eight 3’s, and Rondo had a triple-double with 15 points 20 assists and 11 rebounds. Stoudemire had just 7 points in the game, and that about sums up how the Knicks played. Boston has weak interior presence, and with Amare in the game it felt like if the C’s were going to win it would not be such a rout. Heading into game 3, I felt that if Stoudemire was in the game the Knicks would win this game. They have controlled the inside in the first 2 games. Amare is obviously still feeling some pain in his back, and the once cool and calm Carmelo Anthony now looks very foolish. To score 42 points in game 2 and almost singlehandedly carry the Knicks to the victory, he was invisible when the going got tough Friday night. What a difference a game makes. I wonder if he’s worried now about the teams chances heading into game 4 down 3-0?

Boston still had no support from their bench. It’s getting to be a reoccurring theme, like the Bruins and their powerplay, or Crawford and his ineffectiveness. Doc has to fix it somehow, if the Celtics want to make a long playoff run. Eventually, their stars will have a bad night, and they will die when their bench doesn’t pick up the slack. As long as the Knicks give up again, Boston will easily win game 4 and advance to the Conference Semi Finals.

Celtics take game 2 in dramatic fashion, lead series 2-0

1st Half

Before the game started, Chauncey Billups was officially ruled out. This is a huge blow for the Knicks, who are relying on him to get this team further into the playoffs. The first quarter was a back-and forth battle. Boston controlled the early stages, but the Knicks were able to go on an 8-0 run to end the 1st. The Celtics game-plan was get the ball to Rondo. He appeared to be the only Celtic who could score. Rondo had 14 points in the 1st alone. The Celtics took a huge blow though, when Jermaine O’Neal left with 3:44 left in the 1st quarter. Boston would take a 23-21 lead into the 2nd. The Knicks went on a 13-1 run to start the 2nd, but Amare Stoudemire was 0-6. He is somebody who has to score if the Knicks have any chance of winning. With 7:00 to go in the second, Jermaine O’Neal came back into the game. He had an apparent wrist injury, as his wrist was wrapped up tight. The second quarter became the Rondo and Anthony show. They were the only two who could score for their respective teams. Rondo had 18 points in the 1st half, and Carmelo had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics bench is being outscored 15-7.

2nd Half

Amare Stoudemire was out with back spasms in the 3rd, and he did not return to the game. That was a huge blow for the Knicks. Yes, Anthony is lighting up the scoreboard, but they need Amare if they want to close this game out. Pierce had some huge blocks in the 3rd, and Ray Allen started to come to life, hitting 4 of 4 from 3-point range. The Knicks looked awful late in the 3rd. They couldn’t hit any shots, and went over three minutes without a FG towards the end of the quarter. Boston took a 74-68 lead at the end of the 3rd, and it looked like this game was over. Rondo was leading the team with 22 points, and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce came to life with 18 and 16 respectively. The bench was providing nothing, but they were only taking on Carmelo Anthony. He was the only Knick who could score. New York started strong in the 4th. They were able to close the gap to 74-70. The Knicks eventually tied the game, and took the lead 78-76 on a 15-2 run. Anthony had the entire Knicks team on his back, and was doing a great job of getting them back into what had seemed like a done game. With 2:35 to go, Anthony nailed a huge 3-pointer to give him 42 points. New York took a 91-88 lead in the 4th. Pierce drove to the basket, and was fouled. He hit both his free throws to make it a one point game. New York set up in the Boston zone. A pass attempt was blocked, and picked up by Ray Allen. He got the ball to Rondo, who slowed the play down. He passed back to Pierce. With 1:14 to go, KG gets a huge dunk on a nice feed from Pierce. Boston now took a one point lead. But would there D hold it? On a crazy possession by the Knicks, including a missed lay-up by Mason, Jeffries eventually got the ball and put in a lay-up around Garnett. Knicks took a one point lead, 93-92. With 19.3 seconds on the clock, Garnett got the ball, and laid up a hook shot. He drained it, and now Boston was up 94-93. With 13.3 remaining, Mason inbounded and had it passed back to him. Mason got it to Anthony, who instead of shooting, passed it to Jeffries. He had a wide open lane, turned to pass, and KG got in his way. Garnett blocked the pass, and recovered it inbounds. On the floor Garnett was calling for a time-out. The ref came over to KG, and instead of calling a jump ball he looked at Garnett, and then gave him the time-out. That would all but end it for the Knicks. On the inbound to West, he was eventually fouled with just .6 seconds remaining. He hit both free throws, giving the Knicks one last heave. It missed horribly, and the Celtics took game 2 96-93.

Post-Game Breakdown

In a hard-fought game, the Celtics were able to take game 2, 96-93. Neither team looked good early. Boston lost Jermaine O’Neal, although he did come back. Boston also got nothing from their bench. Rondo was basically their whole offense in the 1st half. I don’t mind him scoring a lot, but the rest of the team needed to get involved. Rondo ended the night with 30 points (career high) to lead the Celtics, along with 4 rebounds and 7 assists. New York had only one scorer as well, and that was Carmelo Anthony. He had 42 points to tie his playoff career high. Losing Stoudemire in the 2nd half was huge for this Knicks team. New York could have possibly won the game if he was in the game for the final possession. I would imagine that he would have hit the lane if he were in Jeffries position, and made the bucket. The 3rd period looked like the Celtics would easily run away with this game. But the Knicks came out very aggressive in the 4th. Melo was hitting everything, and it looked like he was going to win this game single-handedly. It was incredible to watch the lead evaporate for Boston. Boston can make a lot of improvements off of this game. They were out-rebounded 53-37, with plenty of offensive rebounds for New York. The Celtics still look like their missing something inside. If Stoudemire possibly gets back for game 3, the Knicks will dominate the inside. They need to do something about that, but I don’t know if they have any answers. Although, if Amare is out for game 3 or more, then Boston could wrap this series up in 4. Going into game 3, Boston looks in good shape to win the series. I think New York will win game 3, but look for the Knicks to come out flat in game 4 as a result. I think Boston will win this series in 5, possibly 6. For the Celtics to make a long run in the playoffs though, they need to improve their inside prescience, and get a better performance from their bench.

Celtics take game 1, 87-85

In a thrilling finish, the Boston Celtics were able to take game 1 against the New York Knicks, 87-85. The dramatic finish came as a result of very poor play from the C’s in the first half. The Knicks dominated the 1st half. Amare Stoudemire really dominated the C’s all game, and scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. That should raise some questions about Perk. If he was in this game, would Amare have been so dominate? I digress. Boston looked flat, and unaware that they were in a playoff game to start. In fact Doc Rivers even said that the team played like the playoffs started in the second half. New York went on a 23-9 run to end the 1st half. But Boston hung in there, and battled back.

Jermaine O’Neal made some huge blocks in the third quarter including one on Carmello with about 7:44 to go in the quarter. That really started to swing momentum towards Boston. It was a back and forth battle for most of the second half. The C’s kept chipping away at the Knicks lead, until they were able to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 82 late in the fourth, Tony Douglas hit a huge 3-pointer to put the Knicks by three with just 38 seconds remaining. Boston called timeout, and KG received an alley-oop on an inbound from Rondo, to make the game 84-85. The Knicks looked very surprised by the play call. The Knicks then set up their offense in the Boston zone. Chauncey Billups attempted a lay-up, and landed awkwardly on his left knee (his status is uncertain going into the next game). His lay-up didn’t fall, and the rebound was passed back out. Carmello was trying to set up and bumped into Paul Pierce. Pierce did embellish a bit, and was able to get an offensive foul. Rondo took the ball for the inbound, and called a time out. On the ensuing play, Allen passed to Pierce from just in front of the half court marker, drove to the left side, where Pierce got it back to him. Garnett got away with a bit of an elbow on a pick, and Allen dropped the three. Boston took an 87-85 lead. New York still had 11 seconds on the clock. The ball was brought up court, and Carmello called for it. He shouldn’t have. Instead of trying to drive through the lane for a basket and possible foul, he threw up a lame duck 3 that missed badly off the front of the rim. The game ended, and Boston had won 87-85. The Knicks were outscored 48-34 in the second half.

This was a great game for the Celtics. It looked like the Knicks threw everything they had at them, and the C’s came out on top. Boston had 15 offensive rebounds, which they have not done all year. Boston is now 17-2 against Knicks in their last 19 meetings, including 5-0 this season. The C’s have also won 10 straight against New York. Getting worse, the Knicks have now gone 10 years without a playoff win. Boston should win game 2. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be too difficult for such a seasoned team. I would look for a tough game from New York once they get back to MSG, but I do expect Boston to win this series.

C’s win final regular season game against playoff opponent Knicks

As the final buzzer sounds on the regular season, the Celtics have a lot of questions as to whether or not this is a Championship caliber team. Many people are still worried about this team heading into the postseason, and with good reason. This is a team that went just 16-12 since the All-Star break, and coasted into the postseason. This team had a chance to grab the number one seed if they had played better, and just two more wins would have got them the number two seed. Especially if one of those wins was against Miami on Apr. 9. But, let’s not forget what his team did last year. They were only the number four seed last year, coasted well into the playoffs, told everybody not to panic and that they would turn it on in the postseason, and they did. All this team had to do was win one out of two games and they would have been NBA champs again. But still, something feels different about this year.

Perkins was traded, and they have huge question marks at center. Do you really expect Shaq and Jermaine to be game changers? Rondo has turned into a puddle of mush. Whether it’s his finger, or that he’s upset about the Perk trade, he’s not the same guy he was a year ago or even just three months ago for that matter. He’s not being the playmaker that they need. And KG seems to have lost that fire. He comes out in a post game press conference and says Doc called the team soft, and then comes out the next night, and plays soft. This team seems to lack that fire it had last year,  when they wanted to prove that they were better than getting bounced by Orlando in ’08-’09. This team doesn’t even compare to the ’07-’08 team. The big three, in their first year together, each seeking their first title. There was a fire inside those three that could have burned down the old Boston Garden. This year just doesn’t feel like either of those years.

But, why can’t the C’s win it this year? Kendirk Perkins? Please. If you’re one of those people who thinks that the reason the Celtics lost the NBA Finals was because they didn’t have Perkins, you are out of your mind. That is so asinine. Those same people will tell you that Andrew Bynum being out in ’07-’08 had no affect on the NBA Finals. You gotta roll with the punches, and if your team is that good, then losing your starting center who doesn’t contribute offensively shouldn’t affect you. Their defense was just fine in that series. They only allowed 83 points in the final game. So without their starting center, who is supposed to be such a force on defense, they were in a great position to win the Finals. Rondo hasn’t been the same, but one would think he’s adult enough to turn it up in the postseason. If not, then his finger must really be hurt, or he’s just a very petty man about the Perk trade. The big three, they’ll be ready. I’m not worried about those guys. They just get it, they know this is it. They sat the last two games of the year, and they might as well have been on the bench in the Heat game. They should be fully rested, and ready to compete. And yes, this team did coast into the postseason. But, they did this to us last year, and made it to the Finals. It seems like the only thing to do is believe that the C’s know what they’re doing.  So, is this year really so much different from last year? Maybe with the Perk trade, they will be better offensively when it counts, and that could be te deciding factor in Game 7 of the 2011 NBA Finals.