Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 109, Knicks 98
Celtics 109, Knicks 98
Preseason games aren’t about wins and losses. But they are about position battles and roster spots while the new guys try to blend in Doc Rivers’ system and find their roles.
Saturday night’s game was all about Jeff Green. He’s technically not a “new guy,” but Green is giving Celtics fans a new look that they’ve yet to have seen since he joined the franchise in a controversial 2011 trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
His remarkable comeback from heart surgery continued, and with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce sitting out, Green dominated the contest, dropping 25 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. He also added a pair of blocks, and Green’s turning heads around Celtics Nation as he’s finally making his mark in green and white.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Darko Milicic all sat out Saturday’s game to get some rest, so Green, Jason Terry (22 points) and Courtney Lee (9 points) had free reign to take command. But it didn’t happen right away. The Celtics fell behind quickly in Albany against the Knicks, and spent most of the second quarter trying to dig out from a big hole, which was as deep as 20 points at one point. Chris Copeland had 23 of his 34 points at the half for the Knicks
The Celtics closed the half on a 24-9 run, and it was 52-47 Knicks at the half.
The comeback stalled a bit in the third, but Kris Joseph scored the first six points of the fourth quarter on back-to-back 3-point plays in transition, putting the Celtics ahead 86-83. Joseph’s burst of energy gave Boston their first lead since it was 9-8 Celtics in the opening stanza.
The Celtics outscored New York 29-15 in the final period, and made it clear that their depth is going to be a real problem for opponents every single night.
Key Box Score Line
Jeff Green was certainly the story of the night, and his box score line was certainly impressive. It's unlikely that Green will play 37 minutes a night in the regular season when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are back in the lineup, but he certainly showed that he has the ability to carry the offense when called upon for major minutes.
Green connected on 10 of his 16 field goal attempts, including three of his five 3-point field goals. Whether he's slashing to the hoop our firing from long range, Green showed that he's an offensive threat from all over the court. Oh yeah, and if you're not paying attention, he may just swoop in out of nowhere to swat your breakaway dunk attempt.
Green's comeback story has already been inspirational, and the regular season hasn't even started. He looks poised to have a breakthrough year, and he could very well be Boston's secret weapon this season.
You've been warned, NBA.
Box Score Nuggets
- Five Celtics scored in double-figures, and Green and Terry both went for more than 20 points.
- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Darko Milicic all notched DNP-CDs.
- Leandro Barbosa, acquired this week as a free agent, has yet to join the team.
- Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double, scoring 13 points, handing out 11 assists and grabbing six rebounds.
- The Celtics are still struggling with turnovers, as they committed 21 giveaways.
- Courtney Lee led the Celtics with four steals on the night.
- Green was the only starter to notch a block, as he swatted two shots.
- Jason Terry scored 12 of his 22 points on 4-for-6 shooting from behind the arc.
- Pablo Prigioni went 0-for-6 from downtown for New York.
Quote of the Night
“On any given night we’ve got a lot of different weapons that can hurt you in the starting lineup and on the bench,” Jason Terry said. “This team is built to win a championship and that’s our sole focus.”