|Irish Coffee: Breaking down Celtics vs. Knicks||04.19.13 at 3:25 pm ET|
It’s only fitting that Boston and New York will meet again in a playoff series.
An underlying respect between the two cities rose to the surface this week, when the Yankees honored Red Sox Nation with a ‘United We Stand‘ sign outside their Stadium and sang Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ inside. Bound further now by more than a rivalry, we can only hope sports provide the same small distraction and healing power in Boston that they did in New York City after Sept. 11, 2001.
As we did during Wednesday’s emotional National Anthem at the Bruins game, let’s attempt to welcome that distraction and healing power in the aftermath of the cowardly Boston Marathon bombings and ensuing manhunt by previewing the first-round NBA playoff series between the Celtics and Knicks.
The two erstwhile Defensive Players of the Year have each served as anchors of NBA title teams and enter this series dealing with recent injuries. While Chandler (neck) has relative youth and superior rebounding on his side, Garnett (ankle) is a more versatile offensive threat, illustrating a far wider shooting range and facilitating at a higher rate. There’s a reason one’s a future Hall of Famer and the other made his first All-Star roster this winter.
Slight advantage: Celtics
Brandon Bass (27.6 MIN, 8.7 PTS, 5.2 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.8 BLK, 0.5 STL)
Vs. Carmelo Anthony (37.0 MIN, 28.7 PTS, 6.9 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK)
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We have to make [Carmelo Anthony] work for it’||04.18.13 at 11:00 am ET|
With the regular season over and the playoffs starting Saturday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and discussed his experience during the Boston Marathon bombing, the team’s matchup with the Knicks, and how to stop Carmelo Anthony.
When the two explosions went off at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Rivers had just finished up his team’s practice and was planning on heading for the conclusion of the race.
“I just noticed people, literally running around,” Rivers said. “Then my phone rang and I think it was my assistant who told me what was going on. Obviously I didn’t have any hardship personally except for trying to navigate through people. What I witnessed more was just how quickly, in my opinion, the city went to work. I’m not talking just the first responders. What I did get to witness, it felt like hundreds, it wasn’t, but it felt like hundreds of ambulances, fire trucks roaring by me because I was on Huntington Avenue, which is the next block. … I saw a guy in a suit and tie directing traffic and saw guys hugging and saw people just trying to help each other, and that’s what struck me.”
Rivers talked about how his team will not be returning to Boston before the team’s first playoff game on Saturday in New York.
“The playoffs start on Saturday, so just the travel would have been hard and we made that decision,” Rivers said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. It’s an extended road trip, basically. But guys, they call home, they check on people they know, so that will be part of it. One of the things that I’ve never let go [of] and I understand more than anything is that athletes have a human life. A lot of times a guy will have a bad game and fans or the media will just want to say he didn’t play well, but you may know why for real. Maybe he had a personal issue at home that affected him, and this may affect us, but I’m hoping this affects us in a positive way.”
The Celtics finished 41-40 and with the seventh seed and will play Game 1 of their series vs. the second-seeded Knicks on Saturday afternoon. Games 1 and 2 will be at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics have had success in the postseason vs. the Knicks, but Rivers said he doesn’t expect past series to affect this year’s games.
“I hope [past history will help], but I don’t think it will,” Rivers said. “It would be nice if it helped but none of those guys or at least very few of those guys are part of that history. In a lot of ways it’s a brand new team we’re playing and they’re really good. They didn’t win our division and win the amount of games that they won by fluke. They’re a good basketball team.”
|Easter bummer: Hot-shooting Knicks overcome Jeff Green and Paul Pierce, beat Celtics||03.31.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
Pierce had 24 points and 15 rebounds while Green led the Celtics with 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field as the Celtics (38-35) had their modest two-game winning streak snapped. Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points to lead the Knicks, who won their eighth straight to improve to 46-26. Big man Chris Copeland came off the Knicks bench to score 22 points, as New York won the season series, 3-1.
While Pierce and Green were highly productive, Boston’s three other starters, Avery Bradley, Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass could only manage two points apiece and combined to shoot 3-for-11 from the floor.
The loss all but assured the Celtics of seeing their five-year reign atop of the Atlantic Division come to an end. Boston is 8.5 games behind the Knicks but more importantly, now 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are now just 2.5 games ahead of eighth-place Milwaukee, two games in the loss column.
The Knicks raced out to a halftime lead of 65-48 thanks to a scorching performance from beyond the 3-point circle. The Knicks made 11-of-16 attempts from 3-point range as the Celtics allowed a season-high in first-half points. New York finished 14-of-27 from long range while the Celtics were just 7-of-25 from 3-point range.
Anthony had 18 of his 24 points in the first half to lead New York.
The Celtics were within 11, 55-44, when the Knicks closed out the first half on a 10-4 run. Boston closed to within 11 again midway through the third but the Knicks again closed with a big run, 11-4, to head into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 86-69 lead.
Avery Bradley continues to struggle, finishing with just two points in 24 minutes on 1-of-5 shooting with one rebound and one assist before fouling out in the final two minutes.
Pierce did not play in the fourth quarter as the Knicks built their lead up to as many as 21. Pierce was spotted with an ice pack on his right foot for the entire quarter. The Celtics said it was simply a precaution and that there is no serious injury involved.
The Celtics left immediately after the game for a game Monday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Boston returns home for a Wednesday night game against Detroit, a game that kicks off a four-game homestand at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Carmelo Anthony: ‘It’s a great feeling’ to beat the Celtics||03.26.13 at 11:46 pm ET|
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 36 minutes and was helped out by J.R. Smith, who scored a game-high 32 points off the New York bench as the beat the Celtics 100-85 Tuesday night at TD Garden. With the win the Knicks won their fifth straight and improved to 43-26 and now lead the Celtics by 7 1/2 games in the Atlantic division. The Celtics five-year reign as division champions appears certain to come to an end the season.
‘We want to beat them,” Anthony said. “Let’s just be quite frank about them. We always want to beat Boston. New York in anything wants to beat Boston. And when we do it it’s a great feeling. Right now, we’re playing good basketball. Great road win for us, especially here in this arena. Knowing how hostile it can get here, knowing how well they play here at home in front of their fans. It just says a lot about our team at this moment.’
Anthony played in back-to-back games for the first time since getting his right knee drained and he said the winning helps the recovery.
‘For me it’s just taking it day by day,” Anthony said. “Just seeing what happens and staying on top of what I need to stay on top of as far as injuries and things like that. Just trying to stay healthy. You can’t really control injuries but you can do things to try to prevent them.’
Anthony scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Knicks waited for another player to step forward.
‘For me I know my mindset was just to be as aggressive as I can,” Anthony said. “Offensively, defensively, my team fed off me. JR came off the bench and took it over from there. There was sometimes during the game we were looking to follow his lead out there. Anytime he’s playing like that, it always makes us tough to beat.’
That player turned out to be J.R. Smith, who scored 21 points in the first half, on his way to a 32-point night against Boston.
‘When he’s attacking its kind of hard to stop that,” Anthony said. “He attacks, he gets to the free throw line, he can make outside shots. We feed off of him. We let him do his thing and we space out. He finds guys out there on the basketball court and it’s just a matter of us making shots.’
|Fast Break: J.R. Smith, Knicks knock out Celtics||at 9:50 pm ET|
J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony combined for 61 points and the Knicks delivered a 100-85 knockout of a Celtics team without Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee that all but ended the C’s reign atop the Atlantic Division.
Jeff Green, Paul Pierce, Jordan Crawford, Brandon Bass and Jason Terry all reached double figures, but the C’s committed 20 turnovers and couldn’t stop New York on the other end. Here’s what else went wrong.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Ugly start: It took almost three minutes for either team to score, and neither club’s former NBA Defensive Player of the Year was involved. The Celtics missed their first three shots and committed a pair of turnovers while the Knicks missed their first five attempts until an Anthony (29 points, 8 rebounds) layup broke a scoreless game 2:42 into the first quarter. This wasn’t exactly the epic Celtics-Knicks battle national television had banked on.
J.R. Smith: The Knicks Sixth Man scored 32 points on 24 shots (oddly, just three 3-pointers) in 35 minutes. He outscored the entire Celtics bench by 13 points. Smith also grabbed four of his six first-half rebounds on the offensive end, helping New York establish a comfortable 58-44 halftime lead.
Chris Wilcox: Speaking of rebounds, Chris Wilcox had none in 10 minutes. That’s not good, and neither were his five total boards in three previous games. Meanwhile, the Knicks reached double-digit offensive rebounds by halftime, netting 50 points in the paint and outscoring the C’s 29-6 in second-chance points for the game. Meanwhile, D.J. White and his eight boards per 36 minutes in his career rode the pine until the final three minutes and Shavlik Randolph out-rebounded Wilcox 4-0 in five garbage minutes.
Avery Bradley: The lone healthy Celtics pitbull hasn’t had much bite on the offensive end. He’s shooting worse than 40 percent this month and hasn’t hit half of his shots in a game for more than two weeks. That includes Tuesday night’s 3-for-11, six-point effort against the Knicks that featured a pair of badly missed layups.
|Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Knicks||at 9:42 pm ET|
J.R. Smith scored 32 points off the bench and Carmelo Anthony added 29 as the Knicks overpowered the undermanned Celtics, 100-85, Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who committed 20 turnovers, lost their fifth straight game and fell to 36-34 and dropped 7.5 games behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic Division. With just 12 games left, it’s almost certain that Boston’s five-year run atop the division will end this season.
Smith outscored Boston’s bench, 32-17, and helped New York to its fifth straight win, improving the Knicks to 43-26 on the season.
The Knicks, meanwhile, relied on a heavy dose of Anthony to keep up with Boston. Anthony had 11 points in the opening quarter and the Knicks scored the final five points of the period to take a 28-24 lead after 12 minutes.
With the game tied, 35-35, the Knicks used a 14-0 run to gain control of the game. Smith went wild in the second quarter, going 5-of-11 from the field and scoring 11 of his 21 first-half points as the Knicks assumed a 58-44 halftime lead.
The Celtics opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt, thanks to threes from Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green, and closed to within eight, 60-52. Green led the Celtics with 19 points while Paul Pierce added 16 before being pulled with six minutes left.
The Celtics couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the quarter and the Knicks used 9-0 run to expand their lead to 78-62 and re-gain control.
The Celtics appeared to have some momentum heading into the fourth quarter when Jason Terry drilled a three with 6.1 seconds remaining but Smith drilled a three over Avery Bradley at the buzzer to give the Knicks an 84-69 lead heading into the final period.
The Knicks built their lead up to 17, at 91-74, with just under eight minutes left in the game. The Celtics never threatened after that.
The injury-riddled Celtics have no time to rest as they hit the road to play in Cleveland Wednesday night. Doc Rivers said before the game that Courtney Lee is doubtful for that game, leaving the Celtics short-handed again. Boston returns home Friday night to take on the Hawks at TD Garden, as the Celtics play five games in seven days.
For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett loves Celtics, hates Craig Sager suits||02.18.13 at 11:23 am ET|
The only thing worse than the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities was TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager‘s suit — a hideous monstrosity even by Sager’s standards. No wonder Kevin Garnett won’t play in another All-Star Game.
“Hey, man, stop wearing stuff like this when you do real interviews,” said Garnett, who finished scoreless in just six minutes of action during the East’s 143-138 loss to the West. “Straight up.”
“What’s wrong with it?” asked Sager.
“You look like a Christmas ornament,” Garnett countered.
Gotta love Sager playing naive. Perhaps he forgot Garnett telling him in 2008, “You can’t just grab something from the 1970s and bring it back,” or in 2009, “You take this outfit home, and you burn it.” But surely he recalls Saturday’s All-Star Game practice, when a mutual love of clowning Sager’s suits resolved any lingering conflict over the taste of Honey Nut Cheerios between Garnett and Carmelo Anthony:
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