Nightly Grades: Knicks hold off Boston to advance

TeamGradeAnalysis
A+

It might've been a little more challenging than it should've been, but the Pacers move on. It took six games and their halfcourt offense still appears to be a major question, but their defense remained reliable throughout the series. 

A

They advanced. They did it. It's over. 

The Knicks move out of the first round for the first time in more than a decade, and while it was massively harder than they thought it was going to be a couple days ago, they did it.

One could only hope that they grew up some, too. The wearing black stuff was dumb enough, but they played dumb at times, too. Too much Hero Ball, too much selfish one-on-one, too little sharing. They were far more talented than the Celtics, but they almost gave it away because they played stupidly. 

C

The Celtics dug themselves a hole both in the series, and in Game 6. 

You have to commend their heart, though. A 20-0 run in the fourth to give themselves a prayer was inspiring. And knowing this might be it on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett made it a little extra special.

But they still fell, despite their exit being somewhat admirable. They dug the 3-0 hole, and they dug the one in Game 6. They were a different team without Rajon Rondo, and it often showed.  

D-

The Josh Smith era in Atlanta might've ended just about perfectly -- with a tipped 3-pointer that came up painfully short. 

The Hawks overachieved in some ways this season, and in this series. The Pacers were the better team in a lot of ways but the Hawks found a few lineups that mixed well and relied on good play from Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague.

But the Pacers were always the better team in the series, and it finally showed. 

A-

Just took it to the Clippers again. Memphis hadan opportunity, a window, to secure their own destiny and not leave this series in question anymore.  And they seized it. 

The foul differential was absurd, there's no way of getting around it, but the Grizzlies also didn't get rattled when the Clippers went small. They kept attacking inside. They attacked relentlessly with their bigs and off the cut when the Clippers doubled the strong side. 

Memphis also knocked down their jumpers and kept the pressure on the Clippers' pick and roll sets. 

D-

What a mess. Tried going small. That was a disaster. Tried going big. No good there. 

Haflcourt offense out of whack, went too loose with their zone, and lost their cool repeatedly. The game wasn't called to their favor. At some point you have to deal with it. They never could. 

Blake Griffin wasn't himself, Chris Paul was attacked in the right ways. Jamal Crawford was inexplicably benched. Nothing worked. 

And the Clippers, after so much promise, are going home. 

D+

The kids fought but in the end, the defense was the same problem it was for them all season. At some point you have to dare Derek Fisher to beat you. He did. No shame in that. 

But overall, the Rockets were a young team that wasn't ready. Nothing too complicated about that. A good step forward ,but not enough under tough circumstances. The future's bright for Houston. 

B+

KD is not nice. Derek Fisher's just mean. Took care of business when they needed to after letting Game 5 slip away. The Thunder were the better team and out-executed and out-gunned a young upstart team. They face a considerably tougher test starting Sunday. 

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