In the first of three NBA playoff games Friday night, the New York Knicks went into Boston for the first Celtics home game since the Boston Marathon bombings and defeated the C's, 90-76. The TD Garden was electric with energy — even the Knicks writers, who are used to games at Madison Square Garden, commented on the noise level — but it didn't faze the Knicks or give the Celtics a boost.
The game started with the Celtics winning the tip, but in the first possession, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each missed easy layups, an omen of just how the game would go for the two remaining star players. Pierce shot 6-15 with five turnovers and Garnett shot 5-13, although he grabbed 17 rebounds. Turnovers would kill the Celtics as they committed 17 to the Knicks' 11.
The Knicks would pull away early, going into halftime leading 47-31, and the Celtics simply didn't have the offensive weaponry to come back in the game. Carmelo Anthony scored his lowest point total of the series with 26, but it didn't matter because Raymond Felton was the engine driving the Knicks' offense. His penetration, as it has all season, opened up three-point shooters and led to easy baskets for himself and others. Felton finished with 15 points and ten assists.
The Knicks take a 3-0 lead, and the teams will play again Sunday at 1 p.m. Although it has been done in hockey and baseball, no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series in the playoffs.
Spurs 120, Lakers 89
Speaking of 3-0 deficits, the San Antonio Spurs went into Los Angeles Friday night and, in a stunner, overmatched the Lakers and their starting backcourt of Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris. Steve Nash and Steve Blake were both on the shelf with various injuries, and Jodie Meeks was also sidelined with a sprained ankle he sustained in Game 1.
Morris and Goudelock played admirably, combining for 44 points, but did nothing to contain the Spurs guards. In fact, as it was all season, the Lakers' defense as a whole was terrible. The Spurs shot 61.4 percent, had an offensive rating of 125.1(!) according to Basketball Reference, and had an eFG percentage of .641 as a team. That's some good offense.
Tim Duncan in particular had his way with the two healthy cogs on the Lakers, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, scoring 26 points in 31 minutes. Heck, even DeJuan Blair had a good game, with 13 points as he didn't miss a shot.
Pau Gasol had a good game statistically speaking, notching perhaps the least impressive playoff triple-double ever, with 11 points, 13 rebounds and ten assists. He wasn't helped by the wing players in this equation at all, as Metta World Peace shot 0-6, scored zero points, grabbed zero rebounds and had just one assist. Earl Clark shot 2-9 to add to the debacle.
The Lakers and Spurs will play again Sunday night, and unless both Steves come back, it appears the Spurs are set to (finally) put an end to the 2012-2013 Lakers.
Well, this series has certainly turned around. After most pundits gave the Warriors little-to-no chance of beating the Nuggets after David Lee went down with a torn hip flexor, Stephen Curry has absolutely exploded to lead the Warriors to two-straight wins and control of the first-round series against the Nuggets.
Last night, Curry and Jarrett Jack were huge down the stretch, and they combined to score 52 points. Curry, playing on a bum ankle, wasn't his most efficient, but he nailed four three-pointers and dished out 11 assists. He couldn't stay in front of Ty Lawson, however, who took the Nuggets on his back, especially in the second half, and scored 35 points with ten assists.
The Warriors had to climb from a 13-point deficit, but with the Oracle Arena at its deafening best, the comeback was exhilarating to watch. The game was one of the most entertaining of the playoffs so far, bested only perhaps by Chris Paul's buzzer-beater in Clippers-Grizzlies Game 2. Andre Iguodala had a chance to win it with a half-court shot at the buzzer, but it smacked against the front of the rim, letting the entire Bay Area exhale as the Warriors earned a 2-1 series lead.
Sunday evening will be the biggest game of the series so far. Back at Oracle Arena, if the Nuggets can win and take home court advantage back to Denver, it could shift the series completely. If Stephen Curry's ankles can hold up and he delivers another mammoth performance, the Warriors will have a commanding 3-1 lead.