NBA Playoffs: Knicks take gift wrapped Game 1 from Celtics


What a whirlwind week it’s been for the Boston Celtics…

…and not the good kind – not the kind where a team would roll through the schedule down the stretch, gaining momentum for the post season.  No, their week included a game that was never played and a an absolute air mail job in Toronto against the Raptors to finish the regular season.

Apr 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) and New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) battle for the ball during game one of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

With momentum being such a fickle thing, and with having none to begin their playoff series against the New York Knicks on Saturday afternoon, for the Boston Celtics to find themselves up by seven and with the basketball with less than a minute left in the third quarter, the momentum was there for the taking.

So it was curious when Paul Pierce launched a quick brick from trey land instead of working the offense, and instead of potentially ending the quarter with a nine – or more – point lead and a ton of momentum, Carmello Anthony hit a short jumper for the Knicks and Jason Kidd nailed a couple of free throws, chiseling the Celtics’ lead down to three at the buzzer and grabbed the momentum heading into the fourth…

…the Knicks scoring the first five points of the final frame as part of a 13-2 run on their way to an 85-78 victory over the Celtics, taking game one of their Eastern Conference first round series in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Once the Knicks survived the Celtics’ best shot, which included a 4 point halftime advantage, they poured it on by using their superior size advantage to dominate the offensive glass and quick hands in the passing lanes to cause a plethora of turnovers.  Even so, Boston had their chances in the waning moments, but sloppy passing and questionable shot selection doomed the Celtics.

Anthony led the Knicks with 36 points, taking his usual boat load of shots, going 4 of 6 from downtown and Raymond Felton chipped in with 13.  J. R. Smith scored 15 off the bench, combining with Kenyon Martin’s 10 and Jason Kidd’s 8 as the Knicks bench outscored the Celtics’ bench by an embarassing 33-4 margin.

Boston was led by Jeff Green’s 26 points, followed by Pierce’s 21 and Avery Bradley’s 15.  Kevin Garnett had eight points, but no other Celtic scored more than four.  The Celtics kept pace on the glass as Brandon Bass pulled down 10 and Garnett nine, but Boston could not overcome New York’s 10 offensive rebounds, nor their own propensity to turn the ball over, registering 20 on the afternoon.

Also of concern was Boston’s disappearing offense, scoring just eight lonely points in the final frame while yielding just 18 of their own.  Even so, the game was still a toss up as late as a minute and a half left in the game, but their sloppy passing and poor shot selection decided the game.

The good news is that Boston has a chance for redemption in Game two of the series, slated for Tuesday evening in New York.  A victory there would give the Celtics needed momentum heading back to Boston for Game 3 – a loss would put the inevitable back into play.

The Celtics are a team that can beat anyone on any given day, but they’d better bring their “A” game on Tuesday and take one in Madison Square Garden, or this could be a very quick series.