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Saturday, April 20, 2013

You Win This Round Carmelo

The NBA playoffs returned today in all their scripted and predictable glory. The Celtics played a great road game for three quarters this afternoon at Madison Square Garden before crumbling in the fourth for an 85-78 win by the Knicks. Both teams get an extra day to stew over this ugly battle since Game 2 won't be until Tuesday night (8 p.m., CSN) back at the world's most famous arena.

Carmelo Anthony proved why he won a scoring title, he put up a game-high 36 points with six rebounds and four steals. In true Melo ballhog fashion though, it took him 29 shots to get there and he had one assist (that came on New York's final basket). Three other Knicks scored in double figures but they were all complete afterthoughts: J.R. Smith (15 points, 5 rebounds), Raymond Felton (13 points, 6 assists, 2 steals) and Kenyon Martin (10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks).

Boston's x-factor Jeff Green scored a team-high 26 points with six rebounds and three blocks (plus six turnovers). Paul Pierce added 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists but he also had six turnovers. Avery Bradley (15 points, 3 steals) was the only other Celtic to score in double digits. Brandon Bass pulled down 10 rebounds and surprisingly, the biggest no-show of all was KG (8 points, 9 rebounds).

The C's were up 29-26 after the first quarter on Green's buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Boston outscored New York 24-23 in the second quarter for a 53-49 halftime lead. The Knicks won a brickfest in the third (18-17) but the Celts still clung to a 70-67 lead heading into the fourth. I'm not going to say they choked but Boston was in control for much of the game and their turnover woes in the fourth were the direct result of a total meltdown.

There were three very simple conclusions to reach why Boston lost Game 1: they scored eight points in the fourth quarter, they had 21 turnovers (leading to 20 points) and their bench combined for four points.

All four playoff games today were won by the home team but honestly, if the Celts clean it up a little bit they should be able to win Game 2. Losing it could mean this series won't go the six or seven games that we all expect.

The Knicks hit four more 3-pointers (9-5) and recorded 10 more steals (15-5). The Celtics hit seven more free throws (19-12) and were a perfect 100% from the line. Boston also had five more assists (18-13) and six more points in the paint (13-7). Again, they very easily could have won this game.

Game 2 is basically a must win for the Green and White so you can bank on KG looking more like himself and not the ghost that wore a No. 5 jersey today.

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