The 76ers got a stirring victory over the Celtics as they stunned the men in green with an 18 point comeback.
Down big and on the verge of having to go into Boston to fight for their playoff lives, Andre Iguoldala came up big, knocking down key shots including a shot clock beating triple.
Iguodala high scored for the Sixers with 16 points while Evan Turner also had 16 but shot at just 5-22 (22%) from the field.
“I thought, for the most part, we played decent defense. We just didn’t do it well enough in the last four or five minutes.”
— Boston forward Garnett.
Rajon Rondo was the Cs best, or at least close to it, with 15 points and 15 assists while Paul Pierce had 24 points on one knee.
Yet it seemed that the offence did not go through Garnett enough, as he had only 9 points. When he has a big night and gets lots of touches, the Celtics seem to win. When he does not, they appear to struggle. An interesting thought to carry into Game 5 in Boston.
A vintage performance from Kevin Garnett and yet another triple double from the seemingly unstoppable Rajon Rondo just allowed the Celtics to clear the Sixers at home; 92-91. Few players seem to have the ability to control the flow of a game like Rondo can, who almost always knows when the right time to pass and when to score. Rondo finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists in a dominant performance. Rondo continues to show that he is the most important Celtic, helping them win even with Pierce having a minimal impact.
“I feel we have better basketball in us. I’m sure as the series goes on we will have no other choice but to get better. Whatever is asked of me is what I am going to do.”
The Sixers did leap out to a big first half lead, led by Iguodala who finished with 19 points on the night, but the Celtics continued to grind all night as they whittled down the sizeable lead. Powered by the crowd, the Celtics kept up their seemingly unstopable form at home and took an important 1-0 lead.
“I didn’t think I would play the way I played tonight. I didn’t get a nap today so I didn’t know what to expect. I came up with some rebounds, I came up with some assists and it just happened to be a triple-double tonight.”
— Rondo on whether he expected to get a triple-double in Game 1
The Atlanta Hawks barely escaped elimination with a one point victory over the Boston Celtics. Al Horford came up huge for the Hawks with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead his team in a game he was not even supposed to be playing in. All starters scored in double digits for the Hawks.
A Rajon Rondo burst at the end of the third bought the Celtics back into striking distance, but with Paul Pierce lagging with a knee injury, the Cs were always going to be pressed for offensive punch. Garnett added 16 and Ray Allen had 15 off the bench in the losing effort. Rondo gave the Celtics a chance to win it, stealing Josh Smith’s inbound pass, but great defence from Al Horford meant that he was not able to get the shot up
“I tried to make a play, but got caught on the [sideline]. Give Al credit . . . Al makes a big difference. He can guard anybody on the court.”
Atlanta win: 74-83 (Atlanta lead 1-0)
Josh Smith had 22 points and pulled down 18 boards as the Atlanta Hawks took full advantage of their home court as the won their first game of the series against the Boston Celtics. Kirk Hinrich provided a big lift, giving the Hawks a 12 points on 4-6 shooting from downtown. The Hawks jumped out to a big lead early and were only just able to fend off a determined Celtics fight back.
The Celtics did not hit a single three as Ray Allen continued to sit out with his bung ankle. The C’s certainly missed his presence as they did not hit a three for the game. Rajon Rondo had 20 points and 11 assists before being ejected after a stoush with a referee. Perhaps the most important decision that will be made in this series is whether the league decide to suspsend Rondo. Kevin Garnett had 20 points as well.
“I was upset about the call, and I said something [to Davis]. As I was walking I thought he stopped, and my momentum carried me into him. It’s out of my control [whether he’s suspended]. My teammates all thought that I was obviously in the wrong. They may see that I bumped him, but I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him. I know the rules.”
It’s doubful whether this loss will effect a veteran team like the Celtics that much. They’ve been in this situation and know that it is not the be all and end all. The return of Allen is essential as it opens up lanes and shots for all others as they have to stick right on Ray. No help will be coming from the two guard as Allen will hit that shot with an iota of space. No injuries for either side.
(All times American)
Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Philadelphia at Chicago, 1 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Philadelphia at Chicago, 8 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Fri. May 4, Chicago at Philadelphia, 8 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, Chicago at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., ABC
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Chicago at Philadelphia, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD, TNT
Not to long ago, this playoff series didn’t really seem likely. The Sixers were much higher in the standings then their current 8th seed position and were looking to prove that a team could win without a true superstar in their lineup. This does not look likely to present much of a challenge to the Bulls, as there really is no “No Rose, no Bulls argument”. If Rose does start to prove a factor, as he surely will, Andre Iguodala may play some defence on him, much like LeBron James did at times. Perhaps one of the keys here will be that. Elton Brand against Carlos Boozer will be another key match up, with the two veteran forwards likely to have to score highly for their respective teams. Bulls will get the win here
Game 1 – Sat. April 28, New York at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, New York at Miami, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Thu. May 3, Miami at New York, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, Miami at New York, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 5 * Wed. May 9, New York at Miami, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Miami at New York, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, New York at Miami, TBD
Possibly one of the more exciting match ups of the Eastern Conference. Great contests at multiple positions and superstars littered all over the place. The highlight will no doubt be the competition between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the two 2003 alumni likely wanting the win over their compatriot. Both teams love to get out on the fast break, but its not secret that a big step towards stopping the Miami Heat is halting the run of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Amare Stoudemire’s play against Chris Bosh will be interesting to see, with Bosh having to deal with the physicality of Stoudemire, something he has shown in the past to dislike. Tyson Chandler’s shot blocking and ability to fill up the paint will also be essential in stopping the drives of Wade and James. Possible upset, but Miami likely to get the win.
Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Orlando at Indiana, 7 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, Orlando at Indiana, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3 – Wed. May 2, Indiana at Orlando, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 4 – Sat. May 5, Indiana at Orlando, 2 p.m., ESPN
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Orlando at Indiana, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Indiana at Orlando, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, Orlando at Indiana, TBD
Injuries will definitely be the determining factor in this series. The Pacers have quietly gone about having a good season as they secured the number three seed and Dwight Howard’s injury will make their playoff run much easier. David West, Danny Granger and co. will have a much easier time scoring in the paint without Dwight’s intimidating presence in the middle. Howard is really the only defensively minded player on the Magic team and they will struggle without him. Hedo will have to turn back to clock and Ryan Anderson will need to play out of his skin to force David West to play defence all the way out of to the three point line if the Magic are able to fit the series win here. Unlikely though.
Game 1 – Sun. April 29, Boston at Atlanta, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Boston at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3 – Fri. May 4, Atlanta at Boston, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4 – Sun May 6, Atlanta at Boston, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Boston at Atlanta, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Atlanta at Boston, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Boston at Atlanta, TBD, TNT
Boston’s charge at the end of the season has them well place in this years playoffs. They avoid Miami and Chicago in the first round but the Hawks are no small hurdle to overcome in the first round. The Hawk duo of Josh Smith and Joe Johnson have been playing some of the best basketball of their careers, especially Josh Smith. But the suffocating defence and the inability of the Hawks to match up with Rajon Rondo should allow the Celtics to get the win here. Ray Allen could play a key role as he comes back from extended injury, and if he’s playing off the bench will provide a huge spark. Celtics to get the win here
Western Conference previews up before too long!
Carmelo Anthony’s 42 points 9 rebounds and 5 assists were not enough for the Knicks to defeat the Miami Heat in a potential first round preview. While Carmelo was huge, there was little help to be had from the rest of his team, with only J.R Smith reaching double figures. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade carried the Heat, scoring 29 and 28 points respectively. Chris Bosh also finished with 16, but more importantly out rebound Tyson Chandler as he played the center position, pulling down 14 boards.
Three players scored 20 points or more and Pau Gasol knocked down two clutch back to back threes in overtime as the Lakers swept the series between themselves and Dallas. With Kobe Bryant still ancient, the Lakers’ offense hardly struggled without him, albeit it did require big games from unusual sources. Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points but shot just 9-28 from the field. Jason Terry also had 21 points off the bench.
Rajon Rondo had 20 points and handed out 16 assists as the Boston Celtics cruised to a win against the Charlotte Bobcats. With the Big Three staying home for the game, it was left to the younger brigade to take care of business. They did not disappoint, with Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo all scoring 20 points. Greg Stiemsma swatted 6 shots for the Celtics. Gerald Henderson also had 22 for the Cats.
After taking down the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors claimed another top Eastern scalp as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks by 18 points. Demar DeRozan had 23 points but the Hawks shot themselves in the foot, only hitting one three for the entire game. Josh Smith lead all scorers with 26 points on 11-20 scoring.
The Detroit Pistons pushed the Bulls to overtime but could not finish the game off as they lost by six. Rodney Stuckey lead all with 32 point. Derrick Rose continued to struggle in his retun, scoring 24 points on 9-22 shooting. Joakim Noah also had 20 points and 17 rebounds including a phenomenal 13 offensive rebounds. 4 starters played 20 minutes plus for the Bulls.
The Orlando Magic got the win butlost another bigman as Glen Davis went down with a big knee. The injury leaves the Magic with only one slight tall player left in Ryan Anderson. Jameer Nelson had 21 and 9 assists as well as 9 rebounds to lead both teams.
Antawn Jamison had 21 for the Cavs.
Marcus Thornton Knocked down the elbow jumper to win the game with 3.4 seconds left. Thornton had 20 points to go along with the game winner. Wesley Matthews was the highlight for the injury torn Trailblazers, scoring 31 points on 8-10 shooting from downtown.
The New Orleans Hornets had a hige upset as they beat the Memphis. Rudy Gay had 24 points in the loss while Eric Gordon lead the Hornets with 18. Carl Landry had a double double off the bench registering 16 points and 11 boards.
Afflalo and Ty Lawson both dropped twenty points and Andrew Miller hadned out 11 assists off the bench as well as 7 boards as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Houston Rockets by a comfortable 15 points. Chase Budinger had 19 off the bench for the Rockets.
The Boston Celtics appear to be going through the same kind of routine that this veteran team do every year.
They start fast, fade and then make a sudden run to the playoffs, where they are as dangerous as any team in the league. Even though it seems to happen every season, it’s still somewhat unexpected when they pick themselves up.
Boston have a knack for coming up big when it counts
Their win against Miami on Monday (our time) was huge. They showed the world that they can beat the best in the East. Not just beat, but in this case completely maul.
Their definite advantage against Miami at the point guard position shone through with Rajon Rondo turning in a massive triple double, absolutely dominating Mario Chalmers.
Injuries like usual will play a key part in their playoff hopes.
Ray Allen is currently out with a bung ankle, which- as a shooter -he relies on his usually unfailing legs for lift and stability. The hope is that he will be able to return and still shoot and play at the amazing level that he had been.
Allen’s health will be a key factor, as will Kevin Garnett’s ability to continue playing at the centre. The Celtics have been a much better team after KG accepted Doc Rivers request to play as the man in the middle.
KG gives up little to most of the centres in the league and is able to general the Celtics still suffocating defence. Defence is something that has stayed consistent.
They currently have the 3rd best defence in the league and are still able to match it against the best offensive teams in the NBA, as shown by their win against Miami. This could very well be the last year that these three are together.
Free agency and Danny Ainge could tear the Big Three apart, as early as next season. But if there’s one thing these Celtics have, it’s pride and they will want to go out with a bang.
No team will want to play the Celtics, this team knows how to win in playoff time and always seem to have that extra gear to go to.
With the extra motivation of their limited time together, expect to see the Celtics when it comes to the business end of the season
Toronto outscored Philadelphia 20 points to 7 as the Raptors upset the 76ers 99-78. Bargnani scored 24 points for the Raptors while Jose Calderon handed out 13 assists in the win
Jordan Crawford’s 28 points were not enough to lift the Washington Wizards over the Indiana Pacers. Danny Granger’s 20 points led the Pacers to a 109-96 victory.
The Spurs survived Boston’s late game charge to win by 1 point. Avery Bradley lead all comers with 19 points off the bench while Danny Green had 14 points for the Spurs.
The Hawk’s bench had 52 points as the Atlanta Hawks blew out the Charlotte Bobcats by 27 points. Rookie point guard Kemba Walker had 21 points in the loss.
Monta Ellis had 30 points and 8 assists as the Milwaukee Bucks consigned the Cleveland Cavaliers to yet another defeat. Ekpe Udoh got the start for the Bucks as likely RoY winner Kyrie Irving sat out for the Cavs.
David Lee’s 31 points proved too much for the Timberwolves as they lost 97-94. Kevin Love had 29 points and 12 rebounds but there wasn’t a great deal of help from a short handed Wolves team.
6 players scored in double figures for the Hornets as they beat Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets. Lawson had 22 points but it wasn’t enough for the Nuggets as they lost by 2 points.
LeBron James had 34 points and 10 assists as the Heat evened the ledger against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant and Westbrook combined for 58 points, but also had 13 turnovers, 9 of them Durant’s.
Dirk Nowitzki had 23 points and Jason Terry had 15 points off the bench as the Dallas Mavericks used a big 4th quarter to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies. OJ Mayo continued his push for a start, leading the Grizz with 17 points off the bench. Gilbert Arenas had 8 in the loss.
Despite two 20 point games off the bench from Anthony Morrow and Gerald Green, the New Jersey Nets lost to the Portland Trailblazers. LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points for the Blazers while Nicolas Batum had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Steve Nash hit the game winning layup as the Phoenix Suns took down 8th seed competitor Utah. Michael Redd had 19 points off the bench for the Suns.
The Los Angeles Lakers took a 2 game lead in the Pacific Division, winning by five. Andrew Bynum lead the way for both teams with 36 points, but it will be Blake Griffins ridiculous poster dunks that will steal the headlines. Caron Butler led the Clips with 28.
Ramon Sessions/Kobe Bryant-Los Angeles Lakers
A trade deadline union, Kobe and Sessions form a dangerous pair going into the playoffs. Whilst they haven’t seemed to gel as easily as Jennings and Ellis, Sessions has energised the previously sluggish Laker offense. Although Kobe seems to want Fisher back, that could only be for personal relationships, as Sessions has brought a palpable improvement to the Lakers. The Lakers are scoring at a much greater rate and Sessions is establishing himself as one of the better point guards in the NBA on the big stage.
As for Kobe Bryant, there’s not a lot to say. He is the best player at his position in the league, he is scoring at an astronomical rate and despite the supposed issues between him and coach Mike Brown, the Lakers are winning. They currently hold the 3rd seed in the West, behind only San Antonio and OKC. Bryant’s leadership through the coaching rumours and issues were vital, not letting it get out of hand and never suggesting that the locker room had turned on Brown. Sessions and Bryant are turning into one of the more dynamic backcourts in the league.
Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis-Milwaukee Bucks
When it comes to the Milwaukee Bucks-speed kills. With both Jennings and Ellis, the Bucks have one of the fastest backcourts in the NBA. These guys can get up and down the floor rapidly and are great scorers on the fast break. Jennings also appears to be rejuvenated by his new backcourt mate and they have formed one of the best guard tandems after the trade. Their continued success is vital to the Bucks’ push towards taking that 8th seed in the East off the New York Knicks. Whether or not they can make any kind of upset against the Heat or Bulls is unlikely, but they very well could steal a game off them.
They both play the passing lanes to the highest level, putting their speed to good use. Whilst Monta Ellis especially is quite undersized for his position, he fights hard on defence, especially after being united with defensive minded Scott Skiles.
Ray Allen/Rajon Rondo-Boston Celtics
One can barely shoot and the other is the greatest three point shooter the game has seen, yet these polar opposites complement each other wonderfully to form one of the best backcourt pairs. Like most of the Boston Celtics, they seem to be on the same wavelength, always seem to know where each other are going to go. Rondo will always know where Ray will be going on the fast break, and just as, if not more, important will always put the ball perfectly in Rays shooting pocket. This helps a shooter to no end, the very art of shooting based around repetition. Getting the ball in the same place every time means there is one less thing for Ray to worry about. He only has to worry about taking the shot. Rondos passing is one of the big reasons why Allen is still shooting at a high level.
Tony Parker/Manu Ginobli-San Antonio Spurs
Whilst Ginobli has been unhealthy for most of the year, the veteran championship pair is still amongst the best. Parker has been playing at an MVP level and is now the heart of the team. Ginobli fights for every step on defence and is still one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA. You have to respect his deadly jump shot, but if you close out poorly he will get around you and find a way to the hoop. Parker is playing close to career best basketball and is keeping the Spurs and Tim Duncan relevant. The Spurs contention this year rests on his shoulders.
The Dynamic Duo for the Oklahoma City dominated the Chicago Bulls as they easily encountered for the Eastern Conference leaders. Westbrook had 27 points while Kevin Durant closed in on Kobe Bryant for the scoring leader on the season with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
All five starters scored 10 points or more as the Boston Celtics had a huge win against the Miami Heat, winning by 19 points. Rajon Rondo had a big triple double with 16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce had 23 points in the win.
With Nene and Trevor Booker out, the Washington Wizards were unable to beat the Toronto Raptors despite John Wall’s double double. Andrea Bargnani had 18 points and 8 rebounds for the Raptors
Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson had 22 points and 25 respectively as the Denver Nuggets took down a Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic Jameer Nelson led both teams with 27 points and 5 assists, but it wasn’t enough for the Magic to win.
Danny Granger’s 32 points pulled the Indiana Pacers over the Houston Rockets in overtime. Courtney Lee had 20 points while Goran Dragic had 22 points and 6 assists in the two point loss.
Jared Dudley had 21 points and Steve Nash had 14 assists as the Phoenix Suns defeated the New Orleans Hornets, despite Grant Hill not playing. Marco Bellinelli led the Hornets with 14 points.
In a match up of two of the best forwards in the NBA, Kevin Love’s Minnesota Timberwolves fell to LaMarcus Aldridge’s Portland Trailblazers. Aldridge had 26 points while Nicolas Batum had 24.
Mr Bryant, take a bow. Barely 24 hours after his horrible performance against the Hornets, Bryant scored 40 points in the Lakers win over the Golden State Warriors. Ramon Sessions seems to be fitting in well with the Lakers as well, scoring 23 points and dishing out 9 assists. David Lee had 27 but shot the ball poorly.