Blog Entry

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 11:27 pm
The Knicks were routed out of the Garden by Four Horsemen that doomed them to an 0-3 deficit. 
Posted by Matt Moore

You had to expect this. A raucous home crowd thinking the first two games were close enough to support a win for the hometown boys in their own house. Over-performance from a super-thin Knicks roster in Games 1 and 2, with some top-heavy help from the stars who the Celtics would work to figure out. Sloppy play from the Celtics to wake themselves up, even after a win. And then, you know, this reality. 

The Boston Celtics are much better than the New York Knicks. 

In the Celtics' outright dismantling of the Knicks, the Celtics rode in like it was Revelations and they were brining the end of the world to Knicks fans. There were four factors that really led to this beatdown. Here then are the four horsemen of the Knickocalypse. 

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1. Pestilence: The Celtics had 20 turnovers, which is a huge amount. But almost none of them hurt them. Know how many fast break points the Knicks, a Mike D'Antoni team, had? 10, on 4-8 shooting. The Knicks had 18 turnovers, which the Celtics used to help convert 8-12 fast break opportunities into 23 points. The Celtics turnovers were on account of trying to do too much, being too confident, moving too quickly. The Knicks' turnovers were on account of sloppiness, dribbling into double teams, throwing terrible passes, freezing movement, and working right into Boston's hands. The Celtics' defense made the Knicks' offense sick to its stomach by closing off lanes and pressuring the Knicks' terrible, and I mean terrible, ball-handlers. But the Knicks also vomited on themselves time and time again with lazy, unfocused and unprepared play. 

2. Famine: James Dolan should buy himself a beer tonight. It was his bungling of the Melo trade that left the Knicks with such a wretched supporting cast and their bench starving for talent. Jared Jeffries played exceptionally well in Game 2, and still managed to lose the game on consecutive possessions. In Game 3, there was no such upside. Jeffries blew easy passes underneath. He was slow to rotate, got lost repeatedly, and failed to execute with any clear purpose. And he had a much better game than Ronny Turiaf. Not only didn't Turiaf do all of those things, but he got completely manhandled down low. The Celtics' reserves were just as bad, and as D'Antoni kept trying to send different lineups, trying to find a spark, the gap in talent was pretty obvious. 

Then there was Toney Douglas. This should have been his opportunity to shine. With Billups out another game, building off of Game 2, with a home crowd, the situation was ripe for him to make an impact. His line's not bad. 15-3-3. But Douglas also failed to recognize Amar'e Stoudemire, the giant power forward with insane leaping ability who's the star of his team, slashing towards the basket on multiple fast breaks. He repeatedly froze fast breaks instead of pushing. Which is really what you want to do when you're running a D'Antoni offense. Slow it down. The Celtics actually dislike fast break teams quite a bit. That being the case, they loved Douglas tonight, because let them keep everything in front of them, nice and settled. 

3. War: The Celtics' defense wasn't everywhere it should have been in Games 1 and 2. It was omnipresent in Game 3. Particularly at the rim. The same principles which have led the Celtics to two finals appearances in three years were in play. Carmelo Anthony was challenged on the perimeter tight by Paul Pierce and others, electing to force him into the drive. When he drove, he was met outside of the paint with multiple defenders creating a wall. Melo's runners bounced off backboard, and contrary the games in Boston, the Celtics came to hit the glass. Boston allowed only a 29 percent offensive rebound rate to the Knicks after allowing over 40 percent to be snagged by New York in both games in Beantown. The formula's simple. Pressure, attack, communicate, help, choke off the offense and get the rebound. The Celtics are defined by those principles, and they were in full effect Friday night. 

On offense, the Celtics came in and raided the Garden, especially from the perimeter. Ray Allen had a bombardment of 3-pointers, in classic form. The Knicks' defense was abysmal, don't get me wrong. But those offensive rebounds came into play. Boston had a 38 percent offensive rebounding rate on their own. That lead to second chance opportunities, which created a scrambling Knicks defense out of position, at which point Allen calmly slipped to a corner and nailed three after three. Most of it was a lack of communication and poor defensive principles by the Knicks, but Boston also calmly executed over and over again. Paul Pierce, who came in 1-10 in ISO situations in this series, was dominant. He and Allen combined for 70 points between the two of them.  Pierce had everything going -- the jumper was crazy wet. Check out their shot charts from GameTracker.

23-34 on jumpers. That's pretty much insane. It was a prolific performance from two Hall of Famers. The embers from the Nets at the Garden are still burning. 

4. Death, thy name is Rajon Rondo. 15 points, 11 rebounds, 20 assists. The first 20-assist triple-double since Magic Johnson in 1991. Those offensive rebounds that lead to those threes? Six of them for Rondo. The floater, the mid-range, and dish, after dish, after dish. The Celtics were on a whole different level than the Knicks tonight. Rondo was on a level beyond that. He was so good his teammates couldn't keep up at points. Rondo was dribbling between his legs and behind his back on the baseline after offensive rebounds. It was as brilliant of a pure-point performance as you'll see in the league. The Rajon Rondo from the beginning of the season is most definitely back. 

The Knicks could have defended better. They could have rebounded better. They could have passed, shot, played better. But with Rajon Rondo owning the game in the way he did, it's hard to see that there was much this Knicks roster could do. The one from earlier in the season, with more depth, more versatility, and more chemistry? Maybe. But this one was simply overwhelmed by the horsemen. 

The end may come on Sunday. 

Since: Jun 11, 2007
Posted on: April 23, 2011 3:47 pm

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

I really like what the Knicks have accomplished this year.  The trades they made have provided a very nice centerpiece for their future.  And I believe they will follow through in the next couple of years to complete the rebuilding of this proud franchise.  However, they are being overwhelmed by the Celtics this year.  Just making the playoffs was quite an accomplishment for the Knicks this year.  It will be alot of fun watching this team evolve and develop in the years ahead.  As far as this series goes, the fat lady has started warming up.  But I say, congratulations Knicks.  You've made huge progress this year and are well on your way to becoming the new beast in the east.  You've made this a most interesting and fun year for many of us.

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: April 23, 2011 2:30 pm

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

This is the Celtics team I've been waiting to see in the playoffs. Sure, the level of performance last night cannot be duplicated every night, but it happened last night and shows the upside of this wonderful team put together in the past few years. Really an all-star at every position. I think the Knicks are probably using Boston as a road map in building their program so far, and in the future. It will take the Knicks another year or two to get all the pieces in place, but they are well on the way. Boston has this year, and maybe next, to lay claim to another title. They really showcased their talents in game 3. But the team of the future could well be the Knicks. They have a few more important moves to make. The trade with the Nuggets cost the team dearly, but it was a necessary move setting up the nucleus for a future great team. While Chauncy Billups could well be about finished, he's replaceable. Carmello Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are the nucleus. But the Knicks must figure out how to effectively add to it. Modeling their team after the Celtics will serve them well, if they can pull it off. But they have the toughest part behind them. Oh yea, this series is over. Maybe the Knicks can get one from the Celtics, but I doubt it.

Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: April 23, 2011 11:44 am

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

the problem with the Melo trade was Felton for Billups.  Felton isn't the world's greatest PG, but Billups doesn't have the gas in the tank for a playoff run, and Felton does.  Billups is banged up; Felton almost never misses a game.  And Toney Douglas just isn't a PG.  If Felton were on the floor, NY would be able to run a true break and slow down Rondo.  The Celtics would still be a better team, but the margin would be close enough for upsets.

But I don't blame the Knicks management -- they made the trade they had to make in order to get the next piece in the puzzle.    Will they be able to make the next moves over the summer?  I'm guessing yes -- NY should be a better team a year from now.

Since: Sep 1, 2009
Posted on: April 23, 2011 9:52 am

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

Wait a minute.. r u telling me that Ray Ray is not going to have a similar perfomance from the three point line. The Law of Average works only for the people that believe in that Law. From what i remember in game two Ray Ray short 100% from the 3-point line....sure he is not going to make all his shorts but at the same time he is not going to tail off a 73% shooting with a 20% shooting. atleast not this series. And i pretty sure you will point out the Fakers ... i mean Lakers series from last year when he went like 0-9 after breaking that 3 point record, but the lakers had a better defense than this Knicks do.

Since: Dec 19, 2010
Posted on: April 23, 2011 8:10 am

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

For Celts fans. ONE very good sign and ONE (possible) bad sign from last nights game.  The good:  Rajon taking over the game is possible the best thing Celts could 've seen.  He is the engine that drives that team and a game like that can spark him back into PG dominance for weeks to come.  Possible bad:  Ray Allen hitting all those 3' great as he is from deep, he can't continue like that.  It's just the law of averages...when all said and done he'll hit for 40% ~ish from deep.  So if he goes 60% one game he's very likely to go for 20% the next and possibly cost the Celts a game or 2.  The Knicks will win game 4 at MSG then the Celts will finish them in 5 back at TD Banknorth Garden.  The next series will be far more telling who is for real in the East.

Since: Dec 23, 2010
Posted on: April 23, 2011 1:43 am

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

Gotta love sports: it's always an overreaction. It's one overreaction after another. Celts are considered chumps one day and monsters the next. Great game by the Celtics. Ray and Paul shot out of their minds, but that's not going to happen every game. The last time Ray shot that well in the postseason (against the Lakers in last year's finals), he went cold for the rest of the series. Very interesting, albeit overdramatic and overreactionary, article. One of the more creative articles I've read here. You've earned your paycheck for the week.

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: April 23, 2011 1:03 am

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: 4 Horsemen Riding

I remember when Boston put there "big three" together...I thought, hey great team..but who the hell is this Rondo kid? Is he really gonna be the starting point guard on this team? Has he ever put any doubts to rest over the past few seasons, he is the best player on The Celtics...the most reliable for sure, do people think he would be as good without Pierce, Allen & Garnett though?

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