Tag:2011 Celtics-Knicks
Posted on: April 20, 2011 4:06 am

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics Game 2 Reactions

Reactions from around the web on the Celtics' second close win over the Knicks in their first round playoff series. Is there a problem with Boston? Can the Knicks handle many more close losses? Are the Celtics worried at all?
Posted by Matt Moore

We begin with the Knicks' side: 
Once more, the closing moments were a matter of inches in either direction, and the team with the edge in seasoning, personnel, and home court (and, if you want, late-game coaching. D'Antoni has been mostly fine, in my opinion, but Doc Rivers has been wizardly.) seized those inches.

The inches thing is what's haunting me, I think. I've always been fascinated (and tormented) by the infinitesimal difference between triumph and heartbreak in basketball, and tonight's biggest moments were, in fact, practically atomic. Look no further than New York's ill-fated final play, in which Kevin Garnett's hand occupied exactly the same slot of airspace as that bedeviling Jared Jeffries pass and his dive for possession grazed the last of the unpainted grains on the parquet floor. Those of you crushed by some decision from any party involved all have your reasons. Me? I'm going to lose sleep because something uncontrollable and imperceptible could have rendered the Knicks winners, but it didn't. Again.

Those tyrannical minutiae governed the game's final moments, but it shan't overlooked, not by those of us that care, how incredible it was that the Knicks even got there. I'm proud of them. You don't have to be.
 via Celtics 96, Knicks 93: "I'm crushed, but I’m still really proud." - Posting and Toasting.

Put this into context. A woefully undersized forward-center was traded to Houston in order to make cap room to sign Amar'e Stoudemire which allowed for the team to become relevant enough to trade half their roster to acquire Carmelo Anthony, and in an effort to fill out the rest of the team, the same player traded to Houston was re-signed after a buyout was reached. That same player then scored the go-ahead bucket against one of the greatest defensive players of all time, off the dribble, at the rim, no less, then was backed down and summarily scored upon by said defensive player to surrender the lead. At which point this same castoff caught a pass from a violently doubled Anthony, and attempted to make the right play, passing to the cutting player behind him rather than going up and getting blocked by a longer, tougher, more experienced defender, again, the same defensive mastermind. In doing so, said defensive force manages to get his hand directly in the path of the ball, at once a brilliant stroke of defensive prowess and a terrifying example of just how wrong things can go when the simplest and best play is detonated by a single well-placed palm. 

That's why the Knicks lost. It defines both Boston's ability to harness that infinitesimal level of effort and focus that determinses champions and the running theme that the Knicks just can't seem to catch a break no matter how much they improve. The first two games of this series have been decided by six points and yet the result is the same. 2-0 Celtics. 
This one shouldn't have been anywhere near that close with Billups already out and Amare Stoudamire leaving the game early with back spasms.  The Celtics are a few clutch plays away from being 0-2 but because they are the Celtics and they (usually) make those plays when they matter most, we're sitting on a 2-0 lead headed to New York.

More notes:
  • One reason it was so close: Knicks outrebounded the C's 53 - 37
  • I was very disappointed in the subs for much of the game - they gave up a 10 point lead in the first half and only contributed 14 points as a unit.
via KG The Closer Shuts The Door - CelticsBlog.

This is the kind of thing that makes you question the validity of how close these first round series are, with the underdogs playing so well. The Celtics are a terrible rebounding team, have been all year. But the Knicks should not be killing them on the glass this badly by any means. And the bench? Glen Davis was a sixth man of the year candidate until about February 27th.  Did he just suddenly become a terrible player? Or is this a result of matchups, timing, and chance? Just as a few more things going their way would have meant a 2-0 series lead for the Knicks, a few things going normally for the Celtics would mean a more comfortable point differential for Boston in this series. 

That said, if you're getting out-produced by the Knicks' bench? You have issues. 
“I thought Rondo was aggressive,” Kevin Garnett said. “He was overly aggressive tonight. Rondo played excellent on both ends.”

In the opening quarter, Rondo repeatedly meandered his way through a thicket of Knicks the way a swift-moving river cuts through a mountain range. He went where he found the least resistance and, for a time, that was pretty much anywhere he wanted to go.

“Kevin and Paul (Pierce) got me great outlet passes and I attacked the rim,” Rondo said. “I think I tried to attack in Game 1 but my layups were getting blocked and I didn’t make a couple. Tonight I made them. I stayed aggressive and tried to expose them because I don’t think they did a great job getting back in transition. They made an adjustment in the second half and I tried to go to my guys, Paul, Ray (Allen) and Kevin.”
via Rajon Rondo drives this team - BostonHerald.com.

It was weird to see Rondo streaking out for catches of outlet passes, and that's a large part of what got the Knicks so off-guard about it. Rondo's almost always retreating to the backcourt to set the offense. He's usually patiently waiting for the right time to execute the play. But in the first quarter, he was just blistering guys in foot races and the result was a whole lot of layups. 

It's odd  that the Knicks can be so disciplined and well-conditioned in getting out in transition offensively, but can't translate those principles on the defensive end. It's one thing to struggle with half-court defense thanks to personnel, scheme and principles (like D'Antoni's forwards traditionaly leaking out early instead of pursuing rebounds which surrenders a lot of extra possessions which hurts the defensive numbers, an element often overlooked because we associate defense with effort). But transition defense whould be a point of proud and an easy translation for the personnel on D'Antoni's teams. They can at least hang with being bludgeoned to death. But letting the Celtics carve isn't going to work, not even in New York. 
You could look at that stat two ways: that the Celtics held one of the best offensive teams in the league to a poor shooting night, or that the Celtics barely eeked out a win despite the Knicks shooting so poorly.

Both are correct.

“It was really good to get the win, but we’re disappointed with the way we played tonight," said Paul Pierce. "We gave up a big lead and with the circumstances I thought we should have pushed the lead ... We shouldn’t be satisfied with the way we played today. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up but hopefully we can play better when we get to New York.”

Glen Davis put it simply, "We gotta play better if we want to be champions."
via Celtics blog - Boston Globe basketball news.

Maybe that's what's so confusing about Rondo's performance tonight. It was almost ineffective. It's easy to argue it won the Celtics the game, in terms of total effort, en masse. But you got the feeling that the Celtics were trying to send a message, to finish the Knicks early. Kick them in the stomach, throw them off the pier and be done with it for the night. But instead, the Knicks keep responding to Celtics' rampages with calm, cool, coollected responses. The Celtics have won two games on account of their ability to make the most out of a handful of possessions at both ends late, but they also need everyone they can convert. This series could go five games, but it's got the feel of a drawn out series in which the Celtics are trying to find themselves and keep coming up without answers. 
On Sunday, Anthony was criticized for shooting a deep 3-pointer over a double-team with time running out. This time, he chose to pass and still walked away with a loss and facing more scrutiny.

“I made the right play,” Anthony said. “The right play was to go to Jared.”

Jeffries, who finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds, said that Garnett closed on him too quickly to get a shot up. But, he added, “I should have went ahead and shot the ball.”
via Celtics 96, Knicks 93 - Anthony Gives His All, but It Isn’t Enough - NYTimes.com.

Easier said than done when Garnett's breathing down your neck. The better option in this situation from a set standpoint would have been for Melo to make the pass to Jeffries, but when the defense collapsed, to reset to Melo. By that time Davis would have had to started to rotate back to his man, which would have provided an opportunity for Melo to go one-on-one for a few seconds with Pierce, enough to get the shot off. In general, I'm a big proponent of always working to create a good shot, versus just giving it to your best player and hoping for the best. But with the Knicks' roster, especially without Billups or Amar'e Stoudemire? Melo should have been their one, last, and only hope. Getting him open would have been more difficult than just saying so, but that's the best scenario. Instead, New York faces a must win in the Garden in Game 3. 

Posted on: April 19, 2011 11:54 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 12:11 am

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: Rondo goes nova

Rajon Rondo scores a career-high 30 points in Celtics' win over the Knicks. Tough shots? Hardly. Light speed layups all night long. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Rajon Rondo's not a scorer, supposedly. He's a distributor and a defender, but not a scorer. He's scored 30 points or more in a game three times in his career . He had never scored 30 points in the playoffs until Tuesday night, when he dropped 30 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals in the Celtics' Melo-overcoming win .

Usually, when a player drops a 30-point line in the playoffs, it means someone hit a barrage of three-pointers, or had the pull-up mid-range jumper moving. But then, most times in the playoffs, a player isn't facing Toney Douglas in Mike D'Antoni's system. Rondo's attack was not a perimeter barrage. Take a look. 

For more on Tuesday night's Knicks-Celtics Game 2, check out our GameTracker

That nice square right in the center of the paint? That represents 20 of his 30 points. Rondo had a parade of layups in the first quarter, with Douglas at one point literally running the opposite direction on a break. Well, maybe parade isn't a fair term. A parade only passes through once, not five times. Rondo did have seven assists as well, putting in close to half the Celtics' total offense by himself either scoring or producing. 

Rondo's speed looked back to where it was early in the season, a gear that was mostly missing during the last half of the year. Post-game, Rondo told TNT the rest in between games helps. That could be a huge factor going forward, not just in this round, but in future rounds should the Celtics advance. Considering how close these first two games have been, and how close the Celtics have come to falling to the Knicks in both contests, Rondo's production is crucial. 

Just another point guard leading the way for his team in the 2011 playoffs with brilliant play after brilliant play. 
Posted on: April 19, 2011 10:12 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:01 am

Carmelo does his best LeBron impression in defeat

Carmlo Anthony does his best LeBron James impression during a loss to the Boston Celtics. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Stop me if this sounds familiar: A do-everything forward carries a cast of castoffs against a more talented opponent, knocking down shots from everywhere, pounding the glass when necessary and reading the defense brilliantly once the defense over-commits to stopping him. For years, that was the LeBron James biography in Cleveland, a series of spectacular and single-handed postseason performances that wound up just short due to the incompetency of his teammates.

With Amar'e Stoudemire nursing a sore back and Chauncey Billups out with a knee injury, the newest Knick, forward Carmelo Anthony, suddenly found himself in James' shoes. Facing the Boston Celtics in a must-win Game 2, Anthony found himself putting the likes of Roger Mason, Shawne Williams, Bill Walker and Anthony Carter on his back, turning in an eye-popping line of 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. Those are numbers, according to Basketball-Reference, that haven't been put up in a playoff game in more than 25 years.  (James is the only other player to go 40/10/5 in the last two years in the playoffs.)

Anthony scored in every way that you can score: knocking down threes, knocking down threes with a hand in his face, knocking down threes after being bumped, finishing at the rim, finishing at the rim in traffic, hitting the elbow jumper, hitting the elbow jumper with a hand in his face and, most importantly, he got to the free throw line (where he shot 10-11), something he had failed to do with any regularity in Game 1. Immediately, his shooting performance drew comparisons to Knicks legend Bernard King, and for once the reference wasn't a gross overstatement. 

The rebounds piled up because someone had to step up in Stoudemire's absence and Anthony wasn't going to wait around to see if any of his teammates were up to the challenge. In the end, the Knicks rebounded exceptionally well, killing Boston on the glass, 53-37, and grabbing 20 offensive rebounds. 

It was Anthony's passing, though, that will be the overlooked part of his masterpiece. Much like James has for years, Anthony threw some great, well-timed looks to cutting teammates once Boston started sending hard double teams his way. With just under six minutes, Anthony notched his last assist to Jared Jeffries, for a lay-up that put the Knicks up 86-84 and made the upset possibility feel very real.

Unfortunately, just like James, Anthony trusted his teammates just a little too much in the critical game-deciding sequence. Trailing 94-93 with 13 seconds to play, Anthony tried to force another pass to Jeffries after Celtics forwards Paul Pierce and Glen Davis double-teamed him. Unfortunately, Jared Jeffries is Jared Jeffries, and he bumped the ball underneath the hoop as Celtics forward Kevin Garnett converged. The pair hit the deck, Garnett emerged with the ball and Boston called timeout. The Knicks never even got off a potential game-winning attempt.

Here's a look at the sequence.

The Knicks now fall behind the Celtics 2-0 in the series after dropping Game 2, 96-93. Stoudemire's status is uncertain, Billups is heading for an MRI and Anthony's royal effort was wasted. Despite the fact that the first two games both game down to the final seconds, it's difficult to imagine the Celtics failing to advance. James knows that feeling well.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 9:02 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 10:34 pm

Amar'e Stoudemire leaves Game 2 with back spasms

New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire left Game 2 against the Boston Celtics with back spasms and did not return. Posted by Ben Golliver. amare-stoudemire

New York Knicks All-Star forward Amar'e Stoudemire leads his team in rebounds, blocks and is its second-leading scorer while also serving as its heart, soul and mouthpiece. Unfortunately, Stoudemire was confined to the bench for the entire second half of Game 2 of a first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics due to back spasms.

Stoudemire, who signed with the Knicks last summer, has been the popular face of the franchise, leading New York to the playoffs for the first time since 2003-2004 and to a winning record for the first time since 2000-2001. At the 3:21 mark of the second quarter, though, Stoudemire called mercy, and Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni motioned for his team to foul to stop the game action so that he could remove Stoudemire from the game. At the time of his injury, the Knicks trailed the Celtics, 38-37.

Stoudemire left the court to receive treatment and he was initially listed as "questionable" to return. During third quarter, that diagnosis changed to "out" for the remainder of the game. 

Following the game, the New York Post reported that Stoudemire "doesn't know'' whether he will be able to play during Friday's Game 3 but is hopeful."  The paper also noted that Stoudemire has "never had back spasms before" and that Stoudemire first starting feeling pain when he was "dunking in warmups."

The loss of Stoudemire comes just hours after Knicks guard Chauncey Billups said he will undergo an MRI on his left knee after a strain kept him out of Game 2 action. It goes without saying that losing either Stoudemire or Billups -- let alone both -- would be crippling for New York's chances to advance against the favored Celtics, who already lead the series, 1-0. Stoudemire, especially, is irreplaceable, as no one else on New York's roster can approximate his combination of athleticism, strength and overall skill.

It's worth noting that Stoudemire was incredibly durable this season, appearing in 78 games and playing 36.8 minutes per night. He finished the season with averages of 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 6:14 pm

Knicks PG Billups (knee) to undergo MRI

New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups will undergo an MRI on his left knee. Posted by Ben Golliver.

On Sunday, we noted that New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups left Game 1 with a left knee strain, an injury that kept him out of practice on Monday and will officially keep him out of Game 2 on Tuesday night. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported that "Billups says when he took off on his left leg, it 'buckled. ... It just kind of gave out on me.'" 

CSNNE.com reports that Billups will undergo an MRI on his knee on Wednesday. "Of course there's concern," Billups told CSNNE.com. "Tomorrow, hopefully I'll have a better idea of what's going on."

The MSG Network also reported that Billups "is walking MUCH better, feels better but told me he'll have an MRI tomorrow in NY." Earlier Tuesday, ESPNNY.com reported that the Knicks said Billups would not undergo an MRI. It's unclear what changed their mind.

In Billups' place, the Knicks will turn to Toney Douglas, a second-year guard out of Florida State who is averaging 10.6 points and 3.0 assists this year.

Here's another look at the play in which Billups sustained his injury.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 2:22 pm

Series Reset: Knicks cope without Billups

We reset the Knicks-Celtics series with Game 2 on tap for Tuesday night. Is New York in trouble without Chauncey Billups? Posted by Ben Golliver.

The Narrative:

A breathtaking Game 1 came down to a pair of potential game-winning threes : Celtics guard Ray Allen made his, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony didn't. The result was disappointing for Knicks fans, but the level of effort wasn't. Amar'e Stoudemire got his numbers, the bench showed up and a more efficient night from Anthony would have meant a Game 1 win. For Boston, point guard Rajon Rondo didn't shoot particularly well but he did put together a near triple-double, which is a good sign for the Celtics, as they are only going as far as Rondo pilots them.

The Hook:

One huge Game 1 sticking point that shakes things up for Game 2: the availability of Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups, who went down with a knee injury late and isn't expected to play on Tuesday. Knicks guard Toney Douglas, a second-year player out of Florida State, is expected to start in Billups' place, and will have his hands full checking Rondo. The numbers on Douglas do offer some hope. The Knicks play better when he's on the court than when he's off, although that's generally come against second-unit players. He's also upped his production during the nine games he started this season (he averaged 13.9 points and 5.7 assists as a starter, compared to 10.6 points and 3.0 assists overall). The issue, as Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni pointed out to SI.com , is how many minutes Douglas will be required to play. It could be a lot. The next guy on the depth chart is aging vet Anthony Carter, who shot 1-4 in 14 minutes during Game 1. In case you were wondering, Douglas averaged 7.5 points and 3.3 assists against the Celtics during the regular season.

The Adjustment:

carmelo-shot-chart One look at Carmelo Anthony's shot chart to the right tells you everything you need to know about what New York hopes to do differently on Tuesday. The breakdown: 5-18 from the field, 2-8 on three-pointers, 4-15 overall on jumpers, just three shots in the paint and a paltry four free throw attempts.

Anthony, one of the league's premier all-around scorers, simply must do better. Attacking Boston's solid interior defense isn't an easy proposition but there really is no alternative. Unless Anthony is able to get to the free throw line, New York will be hoping and praying that its bench shows up big for the second night in a row, a possibility made more difficult by Douglas's move to the starting lineup. 

The X-Factor:

Brilliantly laid out in video form at Posting and Toasting, Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal had a monster Game 1 defensively, blocking four shots and contesting countless others, while looking very agile in Boston's halfcourt defense. On top of all that, he made all six of his shot attempts in 23 minutes. That's the definition of quality minutes from the man tabbed to pick up the slack in Shaquille O'Neal's absence. Can he repeat, or at least approximate, that performance in Game 2?

The Sticking Point:

While all five Boston starters scored in double figures during Game 1, the bench was pretty bad. Delonte West, Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green and Glen Davis combined to shoot 4-15, scoring just eight points and grabbing eight rebounds in a combined 59 minutes. Boston doesn't need all of those guys to step up; really, they'd probably settle for just one. Asking Jeff Green to be that guy feels like a stretch these days, so let's tab Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who started some trash talking  prior to Game 1. Davis has to do a better job than his 1-8 night, since he's being asked to give big minutes behind O'Neal. He's too talented to lay an egg like that twice in a row.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 10:50 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 1:57 pm

Chauncey Billups (knee) 'expected to miss' Game 2

New York Knicks guard Chauncey Billups is day-to-day with a strained knee and doesn't know whether he'll be able to play in Game 2. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Monday update: The Associated Press reports that New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said that Chauncey Billups is not likely to play in Game 2 on Tuesday due to the knee injury suffered during Game 1, 
Chauncey Billups is expected to miss the second game of the New York Knicks’ playoff series against the Boston Celtics because of a left leg injury. Coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday the starting point guard was “very questionable” for Tuesday night’s game in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.

Original post:

With just minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of New York's Game 1 loss to the Boston Celtics, Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups left the court for the locker room with an injured left knee. Replays showed that Billups fell to the ground awkwardly after attempting a driving lay-up attempt that was challenged by Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal

The MSG Network reported that Billups suffered a "strained left knee" on the play and there there would be an "update [Monday] from practice." Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Boston.

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported on Twitter that "Billups says when he took off on his left leg, it 'buckled. ... It just kind of gave out on me.' He has 'no clue' whether he'll play Game 2."

On the season, Billups is averaging 16.8 points and 5.8 assists. If he isn't able to go in Game 2, the Knicks will have to turn to reserve guards Anthony Carter and Toney Douglas. As Billups (10 points, two rebounds, four assists) was already losing his match-up with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (10 points, nine rebounds, nine assists), that would take things from bad to worse for New York. 

Here's a look at the play. 
Posted on: April 17, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 10:02 pm

Celtics G Ray Allen hits game-winning 3 video

Celtics guard Ray Allen hits a game-winning three-pointer to send Boston past the New York Knicks in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first round series. Posted by Ben Golliver.

It's been an incredible opening weekend of NBA playoff basketball, filled with plenty of incredible performances, but Celtics guard Ray Allen takes the cake with his game-winning three-pointer to close out Game One for Boston over the New York Knicks.

With the Celtics trailing the Knicks at home 85-84 with less than 20 seconds left, Boston forward Paul Pierce began his team's final possession with the ball near halfcourt. After sustaining a bump from Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Pierce waited for Ray Allen to set a pick on Anthony and then flare to the three-point line, where Celtics forward Kevin Garnett set a second pick on Knicks guard Toney Douglas. Douglas went crashing to the court, which freed Allen for an open look from the left angle. He buried it, giving Boston an 87-85 lead with 11.6 seconds remaining.

The Knicks, who were out of timeouts, pushed the ball up the court and found Anthony, who settled for a deep three-pointer with Allen and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo contesting. Anthony's potential game-winner was short, giving Boston an 87-85 victory in Game One of the first round playoff series.

Here's a look at the bang-bang sequence.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com