|Posted by GeeZeeCeltics on April 20, 2013 at 5:45 PM|
Well, that was not pleasant.
The Boston Celtics lost their first game of their playoff series against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. Although the starters played a terrific game, the bench was nowhere to be seen, and untimely mistakes late in the game ultimately cost the Celtics a victory. Let's take a look at how the game went:
KG scored the first bucket in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, and the Celtics got out to an early 4-0 lead after two consecutive New York airballs. That was not for long, however, as Carmelo turned up the thermostat and drilled shot after shot to give the Knicks the lead. Boston didn't let up though, and kept hanging around in a 2-6 point distance. After J.R. Smith made an emphatic dunk and it seemed momentum had shifted NY's way, the Celts responded with a run, capped off by a Jeff Green buzzer beating trey to end the quarter. Boston led 29-26 at that point.
The game went back and forth, with threes from New York keeping them close and occasionally giving them the lead. Meanwhile, Green asserted himself as the main force on the Celtics, rivaling Anthony in points. Something else to point out was Avery Bradley's masterful cuts to the basket that gave the C's a few easy baskets under the rim. Pierce was most often the one to assist on said cuts, yet he himself remained relatively cold shooting-wise.
Cold start by Boston. Jeff Green cooled down, and Boston couldn't quite find anyone to lean on. Pierce tried to take charge, but wasn't really successful. Simultaneously, turnovers on passes were becoming a serious problem as many wayward passes ended up in the hands of Knicks players. Regardless, the quarter continued back-and-forth, and the Celtics found themselves with a 3 point lead heading into the final quarter.
This is where everything went wrong. Boston's offense stalled, the turnovers kept piling up. The only thing keeping the Celtics in the game was their defense, but it ultimately wasn't enough to offset scoring only 8 points in the final frame. New York capitalized on Boston's mistakes and converted enough contested shots to escape victorious and assume a 1-0 series lead.
Who's hot: Jeff Green played a fantastic game, especially in the 1st half. He finished with 26 points on 53% shooting, often carrying the team. Paul Pierce, despite having an off shooting night and 6 turnovers, played the role of facilitator, scoring 21 points with 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Brandon Bass played well - especially on the defensive end. He managed to frustrate Anthony while holding his own in 1-on-1 situations.
Who's not: The entire bench, spearheaded by Jason Terry's 0-5 effort. The reserves only managed 4 points, all coming from Courtney Lee's free throws. They have got to step up if the Celtics are to win this series.
The overall feel is the the Celtics let this one slip away. Their offensive execution was crisp in the first 3 quarters but absolutely broke down in the last quarter, which resulted in a plethora of turnovers that cost them the game. Doc is going to have to stress to his troops that camping around the perimeter will rarely result in good looks for anyone. The good thing to take away from this one is that the defense is there (other than missed rotations by Jason Terry/Jordan Crawford that provided a few negative momentum swings). The Celtics were close to planting the seed of doubt in NY's minds, and it seemed they would about midway through the third, but, in the end, the Knicks walk away punching their own chests, confident as ever.
Until game 2, that is, when the Celtics try again.