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NBA Playoffs: The Celtics survive the Knicks

Apr 17, 2011, 10:28 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics - Game One Getty Images

Well, it’s been an interesting first round so far, hasn’t it? The Knicks were the latest underdog to give the home team a lot more than it bargained for in the series opener, and they were probably one shot away from stealing a game in Boston on Sunday. Unfortunately for them, poor late-game execution cost them game one, but they were still able to show the Celtics that they are more than capable of making this a very tough series for Boston. Some quick takeaways:

The good news for the Knicks: Amar’e Stoudemire was the best player on the floor for much of the game. The Celtics couldn’t stop Stoudemire’s inside-out game, which was nearly perfectly balanced: Stoudemire made 6 of his 9 jump shots and 6 of his 9 shots inside the paint. The bad news? The Knicks apparently completely forgot about that late in the game, and Stoudemire wasn’t touching the ball or involved in any way on the Knicks’ final possessions.

Boston was essentially the polar opposite of the Knicks down the stretch — while the Knicks relied on off-the-dribble jumpers and basic isolation play, Boston won the game thanks to two straight well-executed sets out of time-outs. The first set got Kevin Garnett a quick alley-oop dunk to cut the lead to one with 37 seconds to play; the second got Ray Allen a clean look at the go-ahead three with 11 seconds remaining when New York had no timeouts. There aren’t many ways around it: Mike D’Antoni was flat-out outcoached.

The Celtics should have two main worries coming out of this game: Rajon Rondo‘s ineffectiveness and their lack of depth. Ray Allen was the only member of the Fantastic Four that shot well, but you can forgive off shooting nights from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett since they rely on jump shots so much. Rondo isn’t a jump shooter or a volume shooter, but he’s historically been one of the most efficient scoring guards in the NBA. It’s no secret that the Celtics are an entirely different animal offensively when Rondo is on his game than they are when he isn’t — a 5-14 night isn’t how you want to see Rondo start the series off.

What may be even more troubling is Boston’s lack of depth. Glen Davis is Boston’s only reliable bench player, and he went 1-8. Jeff Green has been a disaster. Injuries have prevented Delonte West from getting into any kind of a groove this season. Nenad Krstic played for four minutes, missed a wide-open mid-range shot badly, and was promptly asked to sit down again. New York’s bench outscored Boston 23-8, and New York isn’t supposed to have a bench. That’s something to worry about for the Knicks.

The Knicks had a great shot to win a road game, and they let it slip through their fingers. Those losses are never easy to bounce back from, especially if the injury Chauncey Billups suffered at the end of game 1 will have an impact on his status for the rest of the series. Still, they now know that they can hang with the Celtics for 48 minutes, and they just might be able to give them a real run for their money in this series.

  1. dysraw1 - Apr 17, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Amare was killing them in the 4th quarter then when billups went down he stop getting the ball.

  2. kenken89k - Apr 17, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    normally i dont complain about the REF. and stuff but this game was stolen,billups was foul,and KG tripping…. LOL….

    • andyhr17 - Apr 18, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      Billups was untouched. He jumped in the air, ducked underneath JO to avoid getting blocked, and landed awkwardly on his knee. You can’t call a foul just because a guy gets hurt on a play.

      • dysraw1 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:46 AM

        dude plenty of contact on that play

      • mornelithe - Apr 23, 2011 at 12:27 PM

        Yeah sorry Dysraw1, Andy’s right. Billups did not get fouled on that play.

  3. andyhr17 - Apr 18, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    Classic game of a veteran team not giving up, playing on their home court, with a little bit of luck. This is how playoff games are supposed to be. Great round of first games this weekend.

  4. zrbk - Apr 18, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Just to be fair, the Knicks did a really good job throughout the game. The Celtics won because they are seasoned … and sort of lucky. Jermaine O’Neal was once again the big guy who stomped the Celtics in the playoffs many many years ago. Thanks Jesus.

  5. bceltics1010 - Apr 18, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    The Celtics played a great game, never giving up, working with what players they do have, and keeping the Green alive! (no luck needed) LET’S GO CELTICS!!!

    • phintasm - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:02 AM

      ‘No luck needed’ when you have the refs calling offensive fouls in favor of Paul Pierce’s flops, right? The Celtics are a joke. They’ll get worked in the 2nd round.

      • bceltics1010 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:04 AM

        And you like? SOO many haters..on to the next one..

      • dysraw1 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        they could get it this round

  6. blackglass3 - Apr 18, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    My only complaint was the offensive foul called on Anthony near the end of the game. How the hell do you call that with seconds left?

    • andyhr17 - Apr 18, 2011 at 11:42 AM

      A foul is a foul whether it’s 10 seconds left or in the first quarter. You can’t ask refs to ignore a call because it could have an effect on the game.

      • LPad - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        that’s the thing, it wasn’t a foul in the first quarter

    • ButkisMyDick - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:12 PM

      They called the same thing on KG earlier in the game and I didn’t see any Knick fans complaining. Bad calls both ways, but that WAS a foul and you have to call it.

  7. dantarpa - Apr 18, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    I’m not a big Knicks or Celtics fan but if I was a Knicks fan I would have been pissed by the way that game ended. 10 seconds left, down by 2; they had plenty of time to have a chance at tighing the game. Instead whoever had the ball on inbound dribbled it all away and threw up a very long/bad 3 point attempt.

  8. andyhr17 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Blaming the game on the refs = bitter that your team lost.

  9. evh12345 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Did Melo not learn subtraction at ‘Cuse? 87-85 does not equal three. TAKE IT TO THE RIM.

    • andyhr17 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:34 AM

      He didn’t stick around long enough for advanced math like that.

      • LPad - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:21 PM

        guess you never heard of the “you go for the tie at home and the win on the road philosophy”

      • andyhr17 - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        Not when the shot needed for a win is a poor shot attempt!

      • LPad - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:16 PM

        i guess you haven’t been watching many Knicks game because you would’ve noticed he’s been taking and making that shot on a regular basis for two weeks now.

        Also, Rivers and Lawrence Frank were yelling at Ray to foul if he drove. Since they had a foul to give, so essentially a drive just ends up with the Knicks imbounding the ball with 3 seconds left and getting a shot worse than the shot Melo took.

        And finally, when Rondo went over to double he couldn’t risk the pass to Douglas because a Celtic player was sitting in the passing lane and he would have to lob the ball over Rondo.

        Bottom line, at the end of games when you don’t have any timeouts, you take the first shot you can get or the shot the defense forces you to take. Most of the time they aren’t wide open lay-ups.

  10. dysraw1 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    nah heres the deal melo was out of sink all game, foul etc. we lost mr big shot at a bad time and we did not get the ball to Amare down the strech.

    • LPad - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      I agree, we didn’t get the ball to amare, but the Celtics did prevent it. Amare was the first option on three of the last four plays: he was the first option when Billups drove it and got hurt, the first option on the Melo foul, and the first option on Douglas three. KG fronted him on the drive and the foul with JONeal shaded over to prevent the lob. He also set the pick for Douglas on the three. Late in the clock you got to go to other options if you can’t get to the first option.

      I think some in media are overblowing this to create a story. Did you hear some of questions they asked Amare after the game?

  11. passerby23 - Apr 18, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Where is Troy Murphy??? That was supposed to be a big signing and the guy is a ghost. I know he’s had some injury problems, but is he expected to make any contribution this postseason?

    What happened to Krstic? He was playing some respectable ball. If no Shaq, Krstic has to play more than 4 minutes.

  12. mikeminnc - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    I don’t understand why Carmelo “The Big Virus” Anthony gets knocked for having an inability to shut down great offensive players…..he was able to shut down Stoudemire completely in the last 5 minutes of that game…..

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