Ford Keys to the Game: Knicks 85, Celtics 87
Knicks 85, Celtics 87
Trailing by two with 20 seconds remaining in regulation, the Boston Celtics knew exactly where they were going. They didn’t know who would take the shot, but they knew what play they would use to get off their pivotal final shot of the game.
After two failed attempts to inbound the basketball in a side-out situation in the frontcourt, one resulting in a Boston timeout and the other resulting in a kicked ball violation, the Celtics chose to switch up the player who was inbounding the ball. Rajon Rondo held those duties in the first two attempts, but the final attempt would go to Ray Allen.
Allen was able to get the ball into the hands of his captain, Paul Pierce, and Pierce set up shop about 10 feet behind the 3-point line at the center of the court. While Carmelo Anthony paid full attention to Pierce, though, Allen went to work off of the ball.
Kevin Garnett stood at the top of the key and set a pick for Allen in his route from the right sideline to the left wing. Garnett’s screen picked off Allen’s defender, Toney Douglas, and Pierce found Boston’s sharpshooter wide open on the left wing. Allen rose up and released his fifth 3-point attempt of the game, and there was no doubt where it was going – right through the net.
The trey gave Boston an 87-85 lead with 11.6 seconds remaining in regulation and New York did not have a timeout remaining. Anthony eventually threw up his own 3-point attempt from the right wing as the clock ran down to zero, but it was short and that allowed the Celtics to squeeze out an enormous Game 1 victory in the Garden.
Key Box Score Line
Ray Allen is going to get all of the props for his 24 points, three of which gave the C’s the win, but Jermaine O’Neal was simply incredible tonight. He filled up the box score in less than 23 minutes of playing time and, as Doc Rivers pointed out after the game, Boston would not have won without his performance.
O’Neal started at center and finished the game with 12 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting performance at the offense end. However, that shooting perfection wasn’t the only area in which he excelled. He also reeled in four rebounds, three of which came at the offensive end, and tied for the game-high in blocked shots with four.
His activity level at both ends was exactly what the Celtics dreamed of when they signed him this past offseason. O’Neal provided a presence in the paint defensively and he took what the opponent gave him offensively. If he can continue to do that moving forward, this Boston squad is going to be difficult to beat.
Box Score Nuggets
- All five of Boston's starters scored in double-figures, led by Ray Allen's 24 points
- Only three Knicks scored in double-figures, led by Amar'e Stoudemire's 28 points.
- Stoudemire also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to notch his team's only double-double.
- Kevin Garnett also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Five of those rebounds were at the offensive end, which tied his season high (also against the Knicks, on Dec. 15).
- The Celtics committed 18 turnovers that led to 26 points for New York.
- Jermaine O'Neal and Ronny Turiaf tied for the game-high in blocks with four apiece.
- Allen shot 9-of-15 from the floor, 3-of-5 from downtown and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.
- O'Neal shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field.
- Boston outrebounded New York 44-34.
- Paul Pierce's box score was filled with fours: four free throws made, four rebounds, four assists and four turnovers.
- Landry Fields and Nenad Krstic were the only players to appear in the game and not score a point.
- New York outscored Boston 23-8 in bench points.
- Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire tied for the game-high in shot attempts with 18 apiece.
- Pierce (16), Garnett (14), Allen (15) and Rajon Rondo (14) each took either 14, 15 or 16 shots.
- Rondo nearly recorded a triple-double with 10 points, nine rebounds and a game-high nine assists.
- Jared Jeffries came off the bench for New York to grab nine boards, five of which were offensive.
- The only statistic that Fields, New York's starting shooting guard, recorded was one rebound.
- New York's big three of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups attempted 47 of the team's 78 field goals.
- New York outscored Boston by 12 in the first half, and then Boston outscored New York by 14 in the second half.
- The Celtics outscored the Knicks 10-2 in fast break points and 19-10 in second chance points.
- Not a single Knicks player finished with more than four assists.
- Anthony (five) and Stoudemire (four) combined to commit nine turnovers.
Quote of the Night
Carmelo Anthony on the offensive foul he was called for with 21 seconds remaining in the game: "As far as that offensive foul goes, what I thought and what they called was two different things."