Boston Celtics 87, New York Knicks 85
Well, that was something. If the rest of the playoffs will be like this, I'm going to need a pacemaker, and one of those life alert necklaces.
The first half was a story we'd heard before. The Celtics were missing out on boards, they weren't defending real well, and the offense was a bit stagnant. I believe the only Celtic in double digits was Rajon Rondo, who also only had 1 assist.
The second half...not so much. The C's defense just absolutely ratcheted up to playoff level intensity, and the offense finally started really clicking. Celtics got back to tie at around the 9:40 mark in the 4th, and they managed to hang tough (through some VERY frustrating plays) and put themselves in a position to win. A Ray Allen 3-pt shot with 10 seconds left on the clock sealed it. Wow, what a game.
Ray Allen led Boston with a very efficient 24 points on 9-15 shooting, but he wasn't hot early. He didn't take a single shot in the first frame, and only managed to attempt 3 in the whole first half. But in that second half, something clearly changed, and you saw guys like Delonte West (who played great tonight) sticking picks on guys like he was the left tackle for the Patriots. 3 field goal attempts in the first half turned into 12 in the second, including but not limited to his game winning shot with 11.6 seconds left.
Other Celtics of note:
Jermaine O'Neal: If I had to give a game ball to someone, it would probably be Ray, for hitting timely shot after timely shot, but Jermaine O'Neal's 6 for 6 shooting effort and more importantly 4 blocks (but again, a poor rebounding night!) to go with stellar defense was just a joy to see.
But the reason why Ray gets the nod over him (and KG, who had a great stat line, but not as great a game) is because you have to mention that the frontcourt players who played the most for the Knicks (Ronny Turiaf, Amar'e Stoudemire) combined to shoot 70% from the field and 37 points.
Paul Pierce: Pierce was awesome tonight, but, like the Cleveland series last year, it wasn't because of his offense (which was still pretty awesome). Carmelo Anthony took 18 shots tonight, but was held to only 15 points, and shot less than 30% from the field. (I guess someone read the game preview, eh Paul Pierce?)
Jeff Green: Jeff played the type of game tonight that you used to see out of Big Baby (who shot terribly) on a regular basis. Green's stat line was lackluster, with just 4pts, no boards, and no nothin', but when he was out there he just hustled his butt off, he let the game come to him, and everyone just seemed to play a bit better for it. Green's effect on the Celtics is hard to peg down but harder not to acknowledge.