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Monday, April 18, 2011

Winners (Celtics) win and losers (Bruins) lose

All it took was one playoff game or more specifically one fourth quarter to show why we have all the preconceived notions about the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins.

The Celtics played a terrible first half in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last night at TD Garden against the New York Knicks. The Cs trailed by 12 (51-39) at the half and appeared old and lifeless.

However, unlike the Bruins who can't get out of their own way in any pressure-packed situation, the Celts calmly cut it to five (64-59) after three quarters and proceeded to reel off a pulsating 87-85 win as Ray Allen drained the game-winning 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining.

Allen was the hero with a team-high 24 points and six rebounds. Paul Pierce had 18 points, Kevin Garnett added 15 points and 13 rebounds and Rajon Rondo notched 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Jermaine O'Neal was the pleasant surprise with 12 points and four blocks. There was a key stretch in the game where he actually energized the crowd and his teammates with a couple great blocks. He also hit some timely shots which made sure the deficit didn't get too big.

Amare Stoudemire put up a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, he was great. Carmelo Anthony had 15 points (on 5 for 18 shooting) but he dragged his team down since he was in foul trouble (five fouls) and took all the late shots despite having no rhythm. Chauncey Billups was the only other Knick in double figures with 10 points but he also struggled shooting (3 for 11). He rolled his ankle with less than a minute left in the game and departed to the locker room. His status is uncertain for Game 2.

Ronny Turiaf had nine points and four blocks for New York while Landry Fields was held scoreless.

Boston can't afford to dig themselves a large hole again like they did in Game 1. New York used a zone defense effectively in the first half but when Rondo and the Celtics' offense started to run in the second half, the Knicks showed why they gave up the third most points in the NBA during the regular season.

For the game, Boston shot 43.8% to 42.3% for New York. The Knicks hit three more 3-pointers (8-5) but the Celts made one more free throw (12-11). Boston grabbed 10 more rebounds (44-34) and had four more assists (20-16). New York registered four more blocks (9-5) but Boston had eight more fast break points (10-2) and nine more points off turnovers (26-17).

The Celtics want to keep this series as short as possible so they can converse their energy for the next round. That's why winning all home games is so paramount. Game 2 is tomorrow night at TD Garden.

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