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Game Four: The Good News Department

If you want to argue the Celtics had all the advantages yesterday, you’d have a case. Up 3-0, missing JR Smith and with a home game waiting on Wednesday, the Knicks had (and still have) a whole lot of room for error. And while there’s no guarantee anything the Celtics did right will carry over to Game 5, yesterday at the Garden we finally saw signs of the team that presented as, at minimum, a difficult out just a few weeks ago.

So, for one day only, here’s a roundup of good news only.

It’s never just one guy and it wasn’t in game four but Brandon Bass was Doc Rivers’ primary on Carmelo Anthony and before he fouled out of the game (after 31 minutes), he gave Rivers everything he could have hoped for on the defensive end. It’s safe to say the one-game experiment with Bass coming off the bench is at an end for the rest of this series. Bass’ emergence as a tough one-on-one defender against wing players is a nice salve for the wounds he’s tended to inflict on team defense. It’s also a nice harbinger for either his performance next year or his trade value this summer. And, of course, Melo can expect to see plenty of him back in New York this week.

Kevin Garnett put up his second straight absurd rebounding night, matching the 17 boards he pulled down on Friday. He bailed a flailing Paul Pierce out with the longest of baseline two-balls. He set a great last second screen for a Jason Terry jumper in overtime. He did it all despite early foul trouble and over long, uninterrupted stretches of court time. He will be 37 next month.

Another writer turned to me during the first half and said, “Jason Terry is playing really well.” Now, this season, the default reaction to a statement like that usually involves some petty derisive joke, followed by a reference to the size of his contract. But I didn’t get any of that out before I agreed with him. This was, by far, Terry’s best, most meaningful contribution of the season. By overtime, I didn’t even cringe at the transition three.

The Celtics finally got into the Knicks physically on both sides of the ball. Early in the game, Pierce worked hard to get an extra few feet deep on post catches, which allowed him to get both feet into the paint for shots. Late in the game, Garnett sealed off his defender and did the same thing and the Celtics got great looks at the basket as a result. Boston also made it harder for New York to make simple passes, pressuring ball handlers in ways that, however small, made every New York possession that much harder. In the end, it forced the Knicks (34% from the field, 23% from the arc) and Anthony (10-35, including 0-7 from the arc) into a lot of empty possessions.

Using Jeff Green to break New York ball pressure gives the Celtics something besides the ability to get the ball over midcourt without stressing out poor Avery Bradley: it gets Green the ball in stride, which is when he’s so dangerous. With that long stride, he was able to finish a near coast-to-coast layup after a Knicks make.

The quick start bred confidence. In Friday’s loss, the Celtics actually generated a number of good, early looks but they didn’t fall and by the end of the first quarter the team was deflated and rode that wave of malaise the rest of the game. Yesterday, off good ball movement, the Celtics found an open Bradley for a corner three only 16 seconds into the game. Garnett added a jumper and then Pierce hit two (including a three-ball!) and four minutes into the game, the Celtics were using offensive achievement to trigger defense focus and defensive stops to trigger offensive attacks. The Knicks second-half comeback aside, the C’s announced themselves with suitable attitude today.

  • NZNICK33

    Let's make history!!!

  • IBleedGreen

    meanwhile Jason Collins is gay (no offense here): http://www.businessinsider.com/nba-player-jason-c

    • Eric


    • emg

      I always liked Collins. I wish he was better at basketball so being gay seemed cooler.
      Rondo is my favorite player and I believe he is gay or semi-gay.

      • IBleedGreen

        Dude Rondo is married to a woman and has a daughter…

        • emg

          Hate to break it to you IBleedGreen, this is what gay people often do. Collins was engaged.

          That being said, I'm not committed to the belief that Rondo is gay; but if there are any current gay celtics I would say Rondo and Crawford are the top picks

      • CG12

        Semi-gay? Semih-gay?

        • JDK

          Lol yeah does that mean bi? Or what else?

  • Josh_5

    Bass played damn near perfect defense on Carmelo. KG was a boarding beotch, Green was consistently aggressive, and Terry finally showed up. Meanwhile, Pierce needs to stop being a dumbass and committing 33 turnovers a game. Also, Bradley needs a hug because his confidence looks broken.

    • DLLL

      Hahah bradley needs a hug…
      I noticed that too.

  • GymRat

    Thanks for the good news only report!!

    I'm cherishing these final moments of Pierce and KG and Jet. Who knows how many more playoff games we'll get to see them. I hope they'll continue to play (and more so that they'll play in Green), but the day isn't far away when they'll all retire so I'm enjoying the hell out of every big play and great moment while I still can.

    Go Celts!!

  • TeamBoston

    KG has been unstoppable on the boards, but PP not only needs to stop committing turnovers, but retake the large role he held in rebounding.

  • hydrofluoric

    Melo is imploding! Celtics have rekindled that fire! 2004 parallels! Doc finally figured out how to use JET! There's no way that Bass could bite on THAT many pump fakes again (and foul out)! Everyone else battled through major foul adversity too!

    Oh, and I'm not sure enough has been said about that VICIOUS dunk Pierce had in the 3rd.

  • CA-celticfan

    I love the way everyone played…I’m just nervous that it was just a one time thing…that friggin guy J.R Smith will be playing with something to prove and I’m afraid that the refs will have their whistles heavily guarded (in other words they wont use them) when the celtics have the ball…I’m nervous nervous nervous…I hate the heat amd now I equally hate the knicks never carwd for them but now its hate….but I hope the celtics use kenyon martins “I told my teammates to wear black because it’ll be a funeral” words for fuel and survive another game…
    On another notw u guys don’t understand how beautiful it is to live in l.a when tje lakers get swept HA

  • Flagrant2

    A good win at home, but the Celtics were up 20 in the 3rd and it went to overtime.
    I'd say, with JR back, there's an 85% chance the Knicks win on Wednesday.

  • celtics are done

    tomorrow is the good news
    ya 'll go fishing