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Another Withdrawal from the Karma Bank: C’s 96, Knicks 93

 

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What do we do with these wins?

Great wins, games in which both teams performed to capacity and your team won, those you can carry with you. They inspire minor positive changes in how you interact with the people in your life for a couple of days. They mean something. But what does this game mean? Or yesterday’s?

All I can come up with is this: two games in a row, the Celtics scored more points than the Knicks on the last two possessions. They didn’t prove they were better. The only individuals who proved anything were Carmelo Anthony and Jared Jeffries: Carmelo proved he could make any shot, and Jeffries proved he could make a shot given the right circumstances and a few chances.

I just don’t think I agree with this idea I’ve been hearing that whatever happens in the first forty minutes doesn’t matter, because GREAT TEAMS COME THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH. It feels like the argument that all that counts for a pitcher is that he “got the W,” even if he allowed nine runs in five innings. Honestly, I think great teams play great basketball through almost all of the game, and the Celtics have been dramatically not-great for long stretches in each of the last two. They almost both to a Knicks teams that A) is defensively all over the place, B) has pretty much shot terribly, and C) was missing two of its three best players tonight.

That’s why this game recap is just going to shift around between bullets that are positive, negative, and neither. That’s how the thought process for this game goes, right? Every positive brings up a negative and vice versa, for me anyway. Of course, the important thing is that all of these back-and-forths end with a positive, which is that the game is over and the Celtics won. They did something twice that the Lakers haven’t done once.

POSITIVE BULLET

  • “Rajon Rondo, rim reunite.” That’s a headline I wrote for an imaginary newspaper that uses alliteration for every headline. Rondo was 13-23 from the floor, but that’s somehow even more impressive when you remember he was as terrible as he’s ever been from outside. He went 1-6 anywhere but at the basket, but he just obliterated defenders on his drives. Dudes were forced to just pivot as Rondo blew by them, because the time it took him to get from one side of them to the other was too fast for them to take a step towards the basket. Yes, it’s the Knicks, but this is as big a positive sign as you’ll get from this game. When Rondo’s that motivated, he can take enn-ee-wonn.

AMBIGUOUS BULLET

  • The mainstream postgame coverage was in large part about how this game proves again how Doc is a brilliant play-caller out of timeouts with the game on the line. That’s probably true, fine, cool, yes, great. But because of what happened tonight? Because Garnett just backing down Jared Jeffries to shoot a difficult turnaround floater on a night he was 5-15? That’s a brilliant play? Is it called a play if you can draw it up on the blackboard with one straight arrow? KG had just been scored on by the league’s worst offensive player when he should have just put him on the line, so I’m pretty sure he physically put his teeth around Doc’s neck and demanded that he get the ball alone.

NEGATIVE BULLET

  • Continuing in this vein: I get that they worked a bunch of times in a row, but are we really back to Pierce isos? Where is the ball movement in this series? Why can’t anyone get Ray Allen free anymore? At one point in the game Big Baby set a pick on Bill Walker that basically put him in the hospital. MORE OF THAT. I also think that, for whatever reason, the decision-making on this team isn’t as snappy as it used to be. The new players are contributing to that, for sure, but guys are just making their passes a split-second too late, and that’s causing turnovers but more commonly drops and aborted opportunities.

AMBIGUOUS BULLET

  • I’m not sure how they can gameplan for this, but the Celtics have to do something to stop Carmelo from feeling whatever stuff he felt tonight. He looked like nothing short of the league’s best player. It’s almost a referendum on how he plays the rest of the time: if he can do that, why doesn’t he always do that? In any case, I have a feeling the biggest step toward the Celtics solving the Carmelo problem would be Amare returning.

NEGATIVE BULLET

  • The rebounding in this game was an unrelenting nightmare and, if Shaq is out or in the form he exhibited for about a third of his games this season, there’s really no end in sight even once (if, for purposes of jinx prevention) the C’s get to the next round.

    POSITIVE BULLET

    • I can’t tell you how beautiful this play is. Every facet of Garnett’s movements is perfectly composed with the ball and the geometry of the court. Look at his hands once Jeffries gets the ball: there’s basically no way Jeffries is getting a pass through those hands. Then, watch how when Garnett falls he doesn’t move forward on the ground at all. That’s because he’s totally aware of the inbounds line and basically digs his elbow two inches into the parquet to stop his momentum. Then there’s the timeout. A lesser player would wait for the foul, or even the jump ball. But a timeout gets them the inbounds so they can knock off a few seconds and get it to the shooter of their choice. That’s Reggie Miller stealing the inbounds pass and stepping back over the arc. That’s presence of mind.

    NEGATIVE BULLET

    • Jeff Green. Okay, say when: Not hitting wide open jumpers…not finishing under the basket…almost fouling out in twelve minutes…committing pointless fouls at the end of the quarter instead of letting the clock run out…not rebounding even though he was de facto PF for minutes on end…having a larger but inadvertant effect on the team’s rebounding and spacing in general by being traded for Kendrick Perkins…When? Gotcha.

    AMBIGUOUS BULLET

    • Glen Davis is trying very hard. He’s minimized his offensive usage, having received threats of personal injury from many individuals who comment on this blog, and he’s trying to make up for it by working his giant butt off on defense and on the boards. That’s great, but the visual effect is not always pleasant. He sometimes looks like he’s focusing so hard on his motor that he’s actually losing track of what he’s supposed to be doing. I’d rather see Jermaine out there in crunch time. Glen’s defense was okay today, but someday soon he’ll be matched up with a capable offensive player in the frontcourt.

      POSITIVE BULLET

      • The game is over and the Celtics won. See you in the concrete jungles where dreams are made.
      • greenman

        WE need the BEnch to step up. Pierce called them out last night in an interview, saying they can’t just come in and loose the lead so fast.

        He’s right. The starters dominated this game, except in rebounding. The offense comes to a complete hault when we start rotating guys. IT’s tough to watch.

      • jacksobd

        The Editor of that imaginary paper is Brendan Jackson

      • DRJ1

        It's going to get worse before it gets better. Game 2 was bad enough. But I'm expecting a referee rout on Friday. No way is the NBA going to let it's biggest-market, newest Big-3 team go down 3-0 in the first round. They'll find the right goon for the job (Bill Kennedy, anyone?), Paul will be out in Q1 after 3 minutes, etc., etc. We know the drill.

        Cs could still win, but only with a monumental effort and a lot of help from Lady Luck.

        And to anyone who doesn't believe the refs affect games…. well…. there's a bridge in NY I'd like to sell ya.

        And please…. don't tell me 'good teams play through it.' It's almost impossible to beat 8 guys with 5, and you should know that by now.

        • skeeds

          of all the problems the Celtics have, you think the officiating is going to lose us a game? Please. that's hypocritical. you do realise 'Melo was out 2 minutes into game one? And that it took us 4 clutch possesions in 2 games to win, playing against a weak opponent? Yes, the refs can take away a game, but not a blowout. And we should be blowing the Knicks out of the court by halftime, every game.

          If we don't get our shit together, it's gonna turn ugly soon. The Heat are no Knicks. Playing against them as we have been until now will send us on vacation early…

          • DRJ1

            Just curious– how is it possible to be "hypocritical" about a subject not even mentioned? My comment is a prediction of what's going to happen in NY with the refs. The issue of the Cs play (and the clear problems they've had) is a whole other matter.

            I will say, however, that PART of the problem in game 2 was the refs. All those early BS fouls on the Cs is what allowed Melo to go off the way he did. Paul just couldn't defend like he did in game 1, until near the end.

      • Dylan

        Game 3 will be all about the bench.

      • VK28

        Get Ray Allen the ball, man his FG percentage and 3-Pt shooting is RIDICULOUS………

      • Tom

        You mean the lack of a bench? Green looks scared. Davis is too confident and too short. West doesn't really have it, he is too in love with the stepback. Jermaine can't jump anymore. We need Marquis on the bench…

      • phreesh

        The higher seed has done what it's supposed to do – win at home. But, just barely. The Knicks have proven that they can break down the Cs individually. Both Garnett and Pierce have been exposed, but the Cs amazing team defence has held the line.

        If Amare and Billups are out there in the last minute, I think the Knicks win the game.

        I think the Knicks hold serve at home and send it back to Boston 2-2.

        PS – Hayes, how does Garnett demand *anything* with his teeth around Doc's neck? Seriously. Haven't you read any vampire fiction? Shoot me an email and I'll set you up with a reading list.

      • Dan

        Glen Davis was terrible defensively last night. His +/- was -11 which was the worst on the team. He lost Jeffries a bunch of times who was 5-7 on mostly layups. He didn't hedge out well on Carmello when Jeffries was screening Pierce. Offensively he's supposed to be our main scoring option on the bench and he only had 4 points in 23 minutes. He's in a total funk out there. I really think JO should be out there in crunch time. Even Jeff Green could have done a better job staying with Jeffries.

      • AussieCeltic

        2 wins from 2 playoff games against a team stacked with offensive weapons… I will take that every time. We have been unimpressive. We have lost leads with our bench. We have conceded 40+ to Melo. We have won. I can accept all of this because we have won. Bring on MSG!!!

      • Sweeney

        I just thought it was me, but Big Baby seems to be just out of sync. I understand hard work and hustle will endear you to us. However, this is not the series for him and neither will the Heat series. He just doesn't match up well. He is slow to rotate on defense and not moving on offense. BTW, I don't think it is just this series either. It seems to be the last month of play as well.

        JG had a horrible night as well, but I will give him a pass. His last month has been consistent. Though the bench needs to step up and play with some confidence and moxy.

      • kricky

        Yes it's just a pipe dream at this point. But I think he will be leaving ORL the way they are treating him. We'd definitely have to make some big changes to get him, probably give up one of the core guys.

      • GREENMAN

        You are thinking too much in the Short-term. D12 is only 25 years old. Rondo is only 25 years old. If this did happen in 2012 as a FA signing, Ray and KG would not be making Mega-star money. If they resigned at all. (I think KG is much closer to retirement than Ray) I imagine Ray and KG making somewhere in the 5-6 Million a year that previous players like Sheed, Shaq, and Jermaine all signed for. So as Paul, Ray, and Kevin ride of into the sunset, Rondo and D12 are the future. Of course in this scenario. I think that team would be the beast of the east, even with the heat, knicks and bulls as good as they are.

      • Zee

        As for Jeff Green, unless he does something absolutely amazing this post season, the trade really DID NOT have to happen. We would still have that tough mystique about us that every team feared, AND our chemistry (the passing you mention, etc) would be at an all-time high! I'm still disappointed over the trade as you can see. >:-[

      • kricky

        EXACTLY. the guy is a total bust. Only logged 12 minutes last night.

      • Julien the French

        still they managed to keep the Knicks' scoring average to 89 points, which is not bad, knowing that the Knicks have 2 of the best league's scorers….just saying

      • Morpheus

        That Perk trade is looking worse by the game. Neither Krstic or Green have managed to contribute anything of value to this series.

        Why couldn't Danny have gone after Young and Speights from Philly.

      • K.C. Whyalla

        Good win.

        But how awkward does KG look dribbling the ball in that post up situation?

        • tom

          its not awkward, its an animal in its enviroment, a force of nature.

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