The regular season turned into the playoffs, but nothing really changed for the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, who took the offense on his back with his regular non-stop shooting, aided by some strong team defense from the lesser parts of his crew, while the Boston Celtics showed usual grit, that lasted for about three quarters before their offense completely fell apart.
If someone expected to see a new Carmelo once the postseason began, he was in for a disappointing night. He finished with 36 points on 13-29 from the field. The Celtics didn’t make it too easy for him to score, and Anthony wasn’t in the business of giving up on shots if he wasn’t feeling too comfortable, finishing with only one assist, but volume sometimes trumps over accuracy. Luckily for Anthony, even though accuracy wasn’t on the side of the Knicks for most of the game, it wasn’t helping the Boston Celtics as well.
The C’s might be better off without Rajon Rondo during certain games, but not when every possession counts and the trick of giving Paul Pierce the opportunity to create something on his own runs its course. Avery Bradley couldn’t hang on to the ball in the final minutes of the game, leading to only 8 points in the fourth quarter and a 85-78 win for the Knicks, who didn’t really put on an offensive clinic of ball movement against an experiences, tough and inspired by the day’s events team.
But with such a terrible offense, there is no redemption for the proud bunch from Boston. Kevin Garnett was a non factor with 9 points and 4-12 from the field. The bench, with Courteny Lee, Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford didn’t contribute more than 4 points. So Paul Pierce had 21 (1-7 from beyond the arc) and Jeff Green finished with 26 points. The stagnation during the second half was too much to overcome with individual brilliance.
Not that the Knicks had too much to be proud of. Anthony did all the work, and rest were feeding off scraps. J.R. Smith looked like he did for most of the season – trying to emulate Anthony without too much success, finishing with 7-19 from the field, scoring 15 points. The Knicks had more steals (15) than assists (13) and simply relied on clutch ability and terrible Celtics offense in the ending instead of actual good basketball.
The Celtics average shot in the second half was 4 feet further away than their first half numbers, shooting a very poor 4-21 from 10 feet and further, while turning the ball over a total of 20 times. Boston did not even attempt a shot inside 5 feet in the fourth quarter, after making 9 such shots in the first half.
Meanwhile, their defense couldn’t contain Anthony anymore – he was 3-14 on contested shots through the first three quarters, but made four of five in the fourth quarter, including 3 over Jeff Green. He also started giving up on the ball, passing on 15-of-33 second-half touches after giving up the ball on 3-of-26 touches in the first half.
The Celtics aren’t going to make this easy on the Knicks, that’s quite clear. And yet, it’s hard to see them finding enough offense to beat a team that’s solid enough across the board, with one superstar that despite his selfish ways for most of the game, is good enough to carry a team’s scoring on his back without too much help.