Ford Keys to the Game: Knicks 102, Celtics 112
Knicks 102, Celtics 112
Most of the time in NBA games, there are several moments to choose from that could have given the determining influence to a game’s final outcome. Tonight, that wasn’t the case. There was one moment – or, more like a stretch – that sent Boston into the postseason on a winning note.
The Celtics outscored the Knicks by eight points (26-18) in the fourth quarter and they wound up winning by 10 (112-102). The bulk of that lead was built in the first 4:06 of the period, while Boston went on a decisive 11-0 run.
With all five of its starters, and essentially seven of the eight or nine players who will be in the playoff rotation, resting for tonight’s game, it would have been easy for Boston’s defense to let up. New York’s scoring output of 102 points might lead you to believe that happened, but a deeper look will prove that it didn’t.
The best proof of all came during that 11-0 run, when the Celtics smothered New York’s offense and completely turned it off. The Knicks did not score a single point for the first 4:29 of the final frame, and during that stretch they shot an empty 0-for-5 from the field, including three misses from downtown. Boston also forced New York into four turnovers during that span, all of which were completed via hustle plays for the Celtics. Sasha Pavlovic took a charge and then Jeff Green, Von Wafer and Troy Murphy all grabbed steals to force those turnovers.
And while New York was looking like it was playing its 10th through 15th men, Boston certainly did not. Although much of the end of Boston's bench was on the floor as well, that group managed to execute on offense while the Knicks didn’t.
Jeff Green got it all started with a 14-foot jumper 45 seconds into the fourth quarter and Avery Bradley added a 19-foot jumper just 28 seconds later. Those back-to-back makes bumped the Celtics' lead up to six with 10:47 remaining in the game.
After each team committed two turnovers, the sequence culminated with Von Wafer finishing off a pretty steal with a layup at the other end of the floor to put Boston ahead by six. Neither team scored for more than a minute after Wafer’s bucket, but Pavlovic got the C’s rolling again with one of his four 3-pointers on the night. Just 15 seconds after Pavlovic drilled that trey, Murphy stole the ball from Shawne Williams at midcourt and finished a fast break with a big slam to cap Boston’s 11-0 run.
It all happened in a hurry, and it was great to watch from the Celtics’ point of view. From the Knicks’ viewpoint? Not so much. Boston led by just two points entering the fourth, but that 11-0 spurt put them ahead by 13 and gave them a stranglehold on the contest. That run put the game in the Celtics’ hands and helped them finish off a season sweep of four games against the Knicks.
Now it’s time to see if Boston can take the next four games, too.
Key Box Score Line
If we asked you before tonight’s game what Avery Bradley’s career highs were in nearly every statistical category, you probably wouldn’t have known the answer to a single one. Don’t worry about those answers, though. Just know that he blew all of them out of the water against the New York Knicks tonight.
Bradley set new career highs in points (20), field goals made (10), field goals attempted (16), 3-point field goals attempted (two), defensive rebounds (three), total rebounds (three), assists (two), steals (two) and minutes played (27).
Now that’s what we like to call a career night.
With Boston’s starters resting up for the playoffs, Bradley knew he was going to be given substantial playing time tonight and he capitalized on the opportunity. He used his speed and quickness at both ends of the court to get to the basket – and finish – and cause havoc at the defensive end. He led the C’s in both scoring and field goal attempts, which is something no one would have predicted heading into tonight’s game.
Doc Rivers said after the contest that Bradley is more of a scoring guard than a point guard right now, and tonight was evidence of that – his 20 points nearly doubled his career total of 32 points heading into tonight. New York had no one to counter Bradley’s incredible speed, and that led to a breakout performance by Boston’s lone rookie.
Box Score Nuggets
- New York's 18 points in the final quarter was the only instance in the game in which both teams did not score at least 25 points
- Both teams attempted 85 shots in the game.
- Seven of the eight Celtics who appeared in the game notched at least one steal.
- Jeff Green and Glen Davis tied for the game-high in rebounding with eight apiece.
- Four Celtics starters (Green, Davis, Nenad Krstic and Von Wafer) grabbed at least six rebounds.
- The Celtics shot 56.5 percent from the floor despite playing without seven of their top players.
- Wafer had his best all around game of the season by finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists.
- Avery Bradley came off the bench to lead Boston in scoring with 20 points.
- Bradley's box score (highlighted in the above section) notched career highs in nine different categories.
- Sasha Pavlovic also came off of Boston's bench to score 19 points.
- Bradley and Pavlovic were the game's two leading scorers.
- Both teams committed 16 turnovers that led to 20 points for the opponent.
- Amar'e Stoudemire starterd for the Knicks and jacked up a team-high 15 shots in just 20:27 of playing time. He finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
- Pavlovic shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
- New York attempted 23 3-pointers and made only seven.
- Former Celtic Bill Walker led the game in free throw attempts with six. He made five of them.
- Every player in the game registered at least one rebound.
- Ironically, bench players accounted for the game-highs in points, field goals attempted, 3-pointers made, offensive rebounds, assists, steals and turnovers.
- Pavlovic was the only Celtic who participated in the game who didn't register an assist.
- Had Carloss Arroyo notched four more points and Troy Murphy notched one more point, it would have been the first time since Jan. 30, 1966 that the Celtics played eight players and they all finished in double-figures in scoring. Who was the opponent in that 1966 game? The New York Knicks.
- New York outscored Boston in points in the paint (54-52), second chance points (18-5) and fast break points (21-2) but still lost.
- Boston's largest lead was 20 points, while New York's was just four points.
- Derrick Brown tied Landry Fields for New York's team-high in rebounds with seven, and six of Brown's boards came at the offensive end.
- Anthony Carter notched a game-high six assists coming off of the bench for New York.
- New York's bench scoring went like this: five points (Jared Jeffries), six points (Shelden Williams), seven points (Derrick Brown), eight points (Roger Mason, Jr.), nine points (Anthony Carter and Shawne Williams).
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on his current assessment of Glen Davis: "It started in the second half of the Washington game (on Monday). I thought in the first half, he had that sad look on his face; then it changed. Now he's playing the game again. There's sunshine with Baby instead of a dark cloud. It's nice."