The Boston Celtics took a major advantage against the Miami Heat as they won in Miami and can now go home to close out the series. The Celtics have gone from the “old” Celtics to a winning team. TD Garden will surely be roaring when the C’s return home for Game 6 and KG will be doing the same. The men in green have all the momentum heading home.
“They jumped on us at the beginning of the game and we just told our guys to just hang in there. Just hang in there. Don’t overreact. Hang in there. The longer we’re in the game, the better we’ll play.”
— Celtics coach Doc Rivers
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 57 points but not a single other player registered in double figures for the Heat. For the Celtics, Garnett had 26 points and 11 rebounds while Paul Pierce scored 19 points.
Marquis Daniels was certainly prepared to play as he provided the spark to help the Celtics win their first game at home. The Celtics got 20+ points from three of their big four as Garnett, Pierce and Rondo all poured in the points.
LeBron James was unstoppable as he had 34 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists but did not receive a great deal of help from his partner in crime as Wade only added 18 points.
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.
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!
The Bobcats got about as close as they have for a long time to ending their nineteen game losing streak as they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 80-85. The Cats were simply overwhelmed in the final quarter 28-15. Gerald Henderson had a career high thirty two points in the loss but it was Mike Conley and his twenty points that emerged victorious in the end as the Cats season from Hell continued.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, as well as Mikael Pietrus, all sat out in the Celtics loss to the Atlanta Hawks. With only Brandon Bass filling his spot in the regular line up, the C’s fought well to keep the game close. Joe Johnson had thirty points to lead the Hawks as they got a leg up in their fight for home court advantage in the first round.
Amare Stoudemire’s return to the starting lineup was met with what many feared-a loss. With STAT playing at the power forward, the Knicks were anemic offensively, with Carmelo Anthony only having twelve points in the loss. Despite getting the Knicks right back into th playoff race, Mike Woodson’s biggest challenge lies before him: getting these two All Stars to work together.
Vince Carter nineteen points off the bench eclipsed Brandon Rush’s twenty point equivalent as the Dallas Mavericks too down the Golden State Warriors. Klay Thompson had twenty eight points as the Warriors played without center/forward David Lee.
The Lakers-Spurs series continued to sway from side to side as the Spurs used a massive third quarter to blow out a slow Laker team. Despite Kobe Bryant returning to the lineup the Lakers struggled offenseively all night, as the Big Three for the Spurs combined for a total 61 points.
Despite a slight scare, the Oklahoma City emereged triumphant as they beat the Sacramento Kings. Kevin Durant had a double double with 29 and 14 whle James Harden followed his career night with 20 points.
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
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.
Injuries are ravaging this shortened season. With some discussing whether this shortened season had been a positive thing and should continue, injuries are the number one reason why this shouldn’t happen. Amare Stoudemire has fallen, the exciting Jeremy Lin also taken by injury. They Golden State Warriors have Andrew Bogut out with injury, Stephen Curry has barely seen any game time whatsoever. Recently Ray Allen has been sidelined. Derrick Rose has had absolutely no chance to defend his MVP title, his season ravaged by a horrible back injury. Al Horford has been knocked out for most of the season as well. With this hectic schedule, all the excitement has covered up the terrible and growing list of injuries to the games’ best players. The game is losing its superstars to injury and whilst every season there are injuries, this season more than most has seen many teams lining up with nowhere near their best team lining up.
One only has to think of a team to think of a name. Cavaliers? Anderson Varejao. Oklahoma City? Eric Maynor. Chicago Bulls? Not just Rose, but also Rip Hamilton. It’s not just the team’s success that is being compromised, but also players’ careers could very well be compromised. What if Rose has developed a chronic back injury that has been triggered by the fast paced schedule? Will we ever see his absolute true potential? Whilst this is speculation in many regards, this really has to be considered in great depth before we start thinking about any kind of shortened or compressed season.