Over the next couple days, you will probably hear plenty of people quoting the “80% of the time, the team that wins the first game of the series wins the series” statistic that always gets trotted out in the playoffs.
While this statistic may technically be correct, it’s also very misleading. For example: If Milwaukee somehow stole their first game against Miami tomorrow, would you say there’s an 80% chance they will win the series? No, of course not. This statistic means nothing to the individual series.
Nothing, that is, except a 1-0 deficit. Which, when you consider that Boston really seemed like they had a chance throughout most of Saturday afternoon’s matchup against the Knicks, feels pretty significant. After shutting down Carmelo Anthony for much for the first half (including most of the second quarter), a lack of production from the bench and a ton of turnovers doomed the Celtics to an early one-game hole against the favored Knicks.
Let’s get to the bullet points.
- Those who thought the Celtics are better with without Rondo may have been right…for two weeks during the regular season. In the playoffs when defenses are tighter, and emotions and nerves are running high, teams desperately need a ball-handler, especially one who can create shots for teammates and MAKE A DAMN ENTRY PASS INTO THE POST /ahem sorry for yelling. The Celtics turned the ball over 20 times, and many of them came in the fourth quarter when the Knicks were making their final run. Avery Bradley is an admirable player in many ways, but he is not and he has never been a good option at point guard for this team. The same goes for Lee, Crawford and (especially) Jason Terry.
- My evaluation of Jason Terry’s performance today is a series of four letter words that would probably get me fired here at Celtics Town, so I’ll hold my tongue.
- A potentially good option for Boston at point guard: Terrence Williams, who received a DNP-CD for the evening.
- One encouraging sign for the series going forward: Jeff Green and Brandon Bass can both defend Carmelo Anthony (and really, the rest of the Knicks team) very well. Anthony scored 36 points, but he needed 29 shots to do it, and Bass in particular frustrated the Knicks star. Melo thrives when he is able to put his shoulder down, drive and pull up for a jumper, but Bass has surprisingly quick feet and a very strong, both of which proved frustrating for Anthony. Unfortunately, Anthony hit a couple of dagger jumpers that put Boston away.
- “You tryna get the pipe?” jokes were funny for about a week. It has been a lot more than a week since J.R. Smith’s infamous Twitter DM exchange, and for my money, it should be banned from Twitter retroactively.
- Speaking of which, Smith’s shooting wasn’t really an issue for Boston (7-19 from the field), but his energy and athleticism both helped New York, especially in the fourth when Boston’s starters were running out of gas. He also had a first-quarter dunk that brought the crowd to their feet. In my opinion, Green has had a LOT better.
- It’s worth noting that Boston’s bench went without a field goal for the entire game, but it’s also worth noting that Doc’s playoff rotation was incredibly short, so only three non-starters got a chance to even attempt field goals. Crawford, Lee and Terry were the only players to receive minutes. Both Williams and Shavlik Randolph should and probably will get some playing time in Game 2.
- For much of the game, the Celtics held their own on the defensive glass, which shows up in the final tally, 40-40. But the Knicks got a LOT of big rebounds down the stretch, which prevented Boston from shrinking the lead after great defensive possessions.
- Boston scored 25 points in the second half, and eight in the fourth quarter. Those numbers are just not going to get it done.
- If you are wondering why Jeff Green faded a bit after the first half, there are two main reasons. The first: Since Boston wasn’t scoring at ALL apart from him (and some nice cuts to the basket by Avery Bradley), New York’s defense was able to adjust and cut off the straight line-drives to the hoop that open up space for Green. Second: Green played 46 minutes, which would wear down just about anyone. One would hope the Celtics won’t be leaning on him quite as hard in the coming games, especially if Pierce and Garnett can get themselves going in Game 2.
Much more on this game in the next couple days. Game 2 is on Tuesday. It’s going to be a long series.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.