Join me and Demarcus Robinson as we liveblog the first day of the 2013 NBA Playoffs!
Demarcus is here to help me out with the Warriors-Nuggets game. With Faried injured and likely out, I’m picking Golden State to steal this game and to win the series in six, mostly because I want to feel what it’s like to root for Stephen Curry.
Tremendous win for the Knicks. Almost everything went wrong for them – horrid offensive execution, Tyson Chandler being hurt, Carmelo’s off night – and they still beat Boston at their own game. I’m starting on my recap of the game now.
Tremendous play from Jason Kidd has helped the Knicks secure a seven point lead with 1:21 left in the game. Kidd has been everywhere defensively and the Knicks have been able to hit some big shots while the Celtics have gone cold on the offensive end.
The Knicks’ effort level has taken a step up in the fourth. They sense that Boston is not going to beat themselves and that they must play better in order to beat them. New York needs to continue to trust their pick-and-roll attack and try and swing the ball to get good looks. It is much better to get Carmelo a three point look off of a few swing passes than it is to give him the ball and ask him to take the shot off the dribble.
I expect Boston to go to some Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett pick-and-roll action here with either one of them getting a post-up off the action.
Boston takes a three-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Knicks did a little bit better job of getting their pick-and-roll action going in the third, but it still wasn’t enough. The Knicks need to get into their flow offense and start swinging the ball to get good looks on basically every possession instead of relying on isolation plays.
Mike Woodson didn’t waste much time to put J.R. Smith into the game to give his offense a boost. Boston has been so awesome on defense in this game and the Knicks haven’t been able to generate any space with Felton running things and Melo being the only other player on the floor capable of creating his own shot. Smith changes that and just nailed a pull-up jumper to give the Knicks the lead again. This is a good timeout by Doc; Boston’s offense needs to get back into rhythm.
The Celtics look like the better team right now. Their offensive execution is solid and they are taking advantage of every transition opportunity they’ve gotten while the Knicks’ offense has devolved into Carmelo isolations. Boston is pressuring the ball and forcing the Knicks to start their offense so late in the clock and all New York is doing is giving the ball to Carmelo and getting out of the way. That strategy is not working with Brandon Bass defending him. Bass was tremendous against LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals last year and he’s been great on Carmelo. He’s not making anything easy for Anthony and he’s only gotten blown by once by the more athletic Anthony.
This was a great half for Boston because they’ve proven to themselves that they’ll be able to stop the Knicks and score at a decent clip. When the Celtics aren’t getting their offense from Paul Pierce posting up, it’s Jeff Green being really aggressive that has fueled their attack. Green has 20 points on 10 shots at the half while Pierce and Garnett have only combined to shoot 14 times (their major contribution has been their 10 combined assists).
Boston has a 53-49 lead at halftime. New York is going to have to come out of the lockerroom ready to execute their offense rather than dumping it down to Carmelo every play. If they continue to play ISO ball, Boston is going to steal this game.
The Celtics are just posting Paul Pierce up on every possession and burning the Knicks with cuts from the weakside because their rotations aren’t crisp. On three straight plays Avery Bradley has dove right down the lane from the perimeter and received a pass from Pierce for an easy lay-up. Boston’s offense has more fluidity to it than New York’s does right now, mostly because the Knicks are isolating Carmelo instead of getting pick-and-roll action going.
Jeff Green has been tremendous for the Celtics this game, knocking down threes, playing good defense at attacking in the half-court. He had given the Celtics a six point lead before Jason Kidd led the Knicks back into the lead with a 9-0 run by hitting two threes and assisting on a triple by Iman Shumpert.
Once the initial shock of Carmelo’s start wore off, the Celtics outclassed the Knicks on both ends of the floor and end up with a 29-26 lead at the end of the first thanks to a buzzer beating three by Jeff Green. Boston is working their offense and getting good looks and their defense is forcing the Knicks into some tough shots. New York can’t settle for deep twos if they want to beat Boston’s defense.
J.R. Smith just threw down a thunderous dunk off a pick-and-roll. When Smith aggressively turns the corner off high ball screens instead of settling for pull-up jumpers the Knicks’ offense is even tougher to guard. Smith presents a different set of challenges than Felton because he can make the outside shot and finish over size in the paint.
Two first quarter fouls on Avery Bradley is huge. He’s been tremendous defensively for Boston and he’s grown to be a solid outside shooter and secondary pick-and-roll guy.
Carmelo Anthony, ladies and gentlemen! What a start from one of the league’s deadliest scorers. He’s four-of-four from the field and he’s drilled three contested jumpers already (two of which were threes). Boston is running some nice off-ball action to get the ball into Kevin Garnett and Paul Piece, but they aren’t going to win a shootout with the Knicks if Carmelo gets going.
Pablo Prigioni has been a solid rotation player for the Knicks this season, but Chris Copeland starting against a Boston team that starts a big line-up with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green on the wings is not a bad thing. Copeland has been pretty good himself this season, too.
Hello everybody! While we are here to cover the NBA playoffs today, I’d like to extend our collective thoughts and prayers to the people of Boston and the family and friends of the victims of the tragedies that have taken place in and around the city over the past week.
The Boston Marathon bombings certainly have an impact of some kind on this series, as the Cetlics, who are already one of the most prideful teams in the league, will have a ton of motivation in this series. While Boston will certainly come out with a ton of fire, the Knicks are a superior team, specifically offensively, and I think the new version of Carmelo Anthony is one extremely capable of taking his team on a deep playoff run.
My pick for this series is the Knicks in six games. Now, let’s get the playoffs underway!