|Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 12-25 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTS | +8
After a 2-8 start that saw him hoist one too many turnaround Js with four arms right up his nostrils, Melo locked in tight most the rest of the way, hitting on eight of his next 11 — all of which seemed more reasoned in terms of timing and flow. Wide open threes, easy shots, tough shots, impossible shots – it seemed like every time the Celtics cobbled together the faint foundations of a run, Melo was there to smash it back to gravel. The one rebound thing wasn’t exactly inspired, but nor were the shit blizzard of turnovers and glacial pace that put even missed shots at a weird kind of premium.
You can question the logic of hitching your franchise wagon to fleeting efficiency. But “logic” and “effectiveness” are two totally different things.
|Iman Shumpert, SF 20 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +8
If killing or otherwise maiming passing lanes were a crime, Shump would be on Alcatraz – by himself, with bazooka-loaded helicopters to drop down buckets full of fish heads. The jumper was mostly silent, but Shump’s incessant ‘bounding and hounding D helped set the tone for a Beantown thumping.
|Tyson Chandler, C 30 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +13
Another game, another notch on the health belt – or so it would seem. After something of a slow start (a couple late paint rotations, a bobbled pass), Tyson looked degrees more spry as the game wore on. He was never much of a consistent factor on either end of the floor, but anything is found money so long as his head stays attached.
|Raymond Felton, PG 35 MIN | 7-14 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | +12
I’m happy for Raymond Felton. There, I said it. // spleen falls out.
Just a tremendous overall outing for our favorite Neognathae – a mix of tough, stifling defense, timely buckets, and poised penetration mostly free of fault. When he wasn’t beating the shot clock with a tough jumper, he was stuffing one of Avery Bradley’s. When he wasn’t driving into the teeth of KG and laying it in over the evil bastard’s outstretched meatclaw, he was taking a transition charge. That Ray seems to want this series as badly as the veterans of our 1-8 two-year stretch speaks volumes about the man’s locker room appeal. Let’s hope he keeps it up, because he’ll need all the priming he can get ahead of the semis.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 30 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +13
“911. What is your emergency?”
“Yes! Hello! This man, he’s stealing everything.”
“…What man, sir?”
“This guy, he’s from South America but has an Italian last name. I don’t really get it. Anyway, he’s lifting our balls every other play.”
“…Lifting your ba—“
“HE DID IT AGAIN!”
Five steals. Five! When Pablo came back from his ankle tweak and put up a passable – if hardly incendiary – outing in Tuesday night’s game, he claimed he was “only at 85%.” Which, after Friday’s sneaky-genius performance, I can only take to mean that, if you’re 50% in Argentina, you’re clinically dead. Pablo came out poised and aggressive from the perimeter, making the Celtics pay for going deep under high screens by drilling a pair of threes. But Pablo’s biggest contribution came at the defensive end, where he pested, pesked, and annoyed his way to a peck of steals. He very nearly nabbed a sixth, but lost his balance — and the ball – before making out with a camera man’s shoe. On offense, his ball movement and decision-making was as boringly brilliant as we’ve come to expect.
|Kenyon Martin, PF 17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1
I keep waiting for the moment – a rebound, most likely – when Kenyon lands on the floor and turns to smoke, never to be seen again. Thankfully, the production continues apace; Kenyon’s rebounding and overall defensive presence helped keep the Celtics – and Garnett in particular – from forging any kind of rhythm on the interior with Tyson on the bench. Now, all we need is a K-Mart fatality of KG in a sweep-clinching game four: a deep-post chair-pull that gives KG a bruised tailbone and forces him to cower back to the locker room like a hunchback.
|Chris Copeland, SF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +2
CHRIS COPELAND ANAGRAM FUN: PLACID SCORN, HE
|Steve Novak, SF 16 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +1
Oh shit, the Knicks signed Steve Novak!
Seriously though, it was nice to see Steve find something of a rhythm. There’s a joke about white people in there somewhere.
|Quentin Richardson, SF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2
Seriously, I want our Game 4 blowout to end with Q coming on in garbage time and, as he passes a dejected Pierce at the scorer’s table, just smacking him as hard as he can right in the face.
|Jason Kidd, PG 26 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4
Kidd’s fossilized fingerprints were all over this one. Six rebounds in 26 minutes alone would have been a sterling contribution. Instead, a pair of blocks (as in, Jason Kidd registered two goddam blocked shots), a catty swipe of a would-be Jeff Green buzzer-beater, and general kung-fu hands throughout rendered his oh-fer outing totally moot. Well done, old chap.
|J.R. Smith, SG 24 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | +6
EARL SMITH, EVERYONE! Throughout the first two tilts, J.R.’s efficiency suffered somewhat – less because of objectively poor shot choice (although this definitely happened) than sheer shot clock circumstances. Tonight, J.R. played it close to the chest for 24 whole minutes, taking what the defense was giving, picking pockets at the other end, and generally playing the part of measured marauder.
Then he elbow-jacked Jason Terry in the face, and will now likely miss a game because of it. Yes, Terry was trying to build a house in J.R.’s shorts. Yes, I’ve often thought of hitting Jason Terry myself. Just not during a Playoff series. Perhaps the flagrant-2 and resulting ejection will prove sufficient, but it seems likely the league will look to send a message on this one. Shame, too, in that it really does jeopardize our chances for a clean sweep. Go to your room, J.R.! Yes, the champagne room is fine.
Five Things We Saw
- Much was made of the Celtics mining emotional juice from the crowd, and the classy pregame ceremony seemed the perfect siphon. Well, classy save for the handful of douch-nozzles yelling “KG!” and “GO GET ‘EM, PIEE-AHHHCE” during the fucking moment of silence. Really, it had all the makings of a momentum-altering – if not momentum-changing – evening. Not so much. Give the ‘Bockers credit for refusing to be fazed by the gravity of the moment, and – let’s face it – for being the only team to even come close to giving those fans their money’s worth.
- The first three minutes were an unadulterated nightmare of bad shots, even worse misses, and horrifically helter-skelter all around play. Through it all, Boston’s program remained much the same: turn grace into grizzle, and ugly the joint up. But when Boston’s second trip ended with, like, 15 point-blank misses and zero points, the writing of another sad, 48-minute tale was quickly put to wall. The Knicks would eventually find their rhythm, manufacturing points thanks to crisp ball movement even while Melo struggled early.
- For the second straight game, the Knicks took advantage of Boston’s complete indifference to possessing the basketball – 17 turnovers forced, 14 by way of steals. Fourteen! That’s 34 in three games, for those keeping track at home. But it was how the steals happened that was so utterly fascinating: The Celtics weren’t getting ripped so much as, like, just handing the ball to the Knicks. Like, “Here you go. I’m not entirely sure what to do with this leather sphere. Please, you take it – make an exotic casserole.” It was really weird. I think I accused no fewer than five Celtics of being “on drugs” at some point during the game, each time because of some totally mystifying cough-up.
- The Celtics are weird, man. I lost count of how many times Boston would bully the Knicks for 15 full seconds of the shot clock – good rotations, good on-ball D – only to completely collapse in the last few ticks and give up precious looks from the perimeter. To their credit, the Knicks made them pay dearly.
- After J.R. was ejected early in the fourth, I sincerely believed Boston would make one last, impossible run – Jordan Crawford scoring 19 unanswered points or something. Instead, the Bockers regrouped, stayed poised, and answered every big Boston bucket (if you can call any Boston bucket in this series “big”) with one of their own. In another time, this kind of thing would’ve caused the tires to fly off into the ditch, the engine to catch fire, and the tailpipe to spew pure blood. Either Woodson grabbed them all by the ears before Game 1 and threatened to jam bamboo shoots up the finger nails of anyone who compounded a tech or ejection with a dumbass play, or the Knicks really are that confident in their own abilities – or, on the flipside, wholly unconvinced that the Celtics will ever make them break a sweat. Whatever it is, we’re going to need that kind of cool, collected poise in Round 2, where Indiana’s bone-chewing style – already the catalyst for many a Bocker freak-out – lies in wait.