NBA Playoffs 2011: Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks Game 3 Post-Game Reaction
Paul Pierce (38 points) and Ray Allen (32 points) couldn't miss, while Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony shot for a combined 6-24.
With the Knicks now down 3-0 in the series and New York fans wondering whether acquiring Anthony was ever a good idea, here's a recap of game three and a look forward at some questions for game four.
Why the Celtics Won
Everyone knows the Celtics can play great defense. But when they move the ball as well as they did today, they're just about unbeatable.
Boston, led by Rajon Rondo and his franchise-record 20 assists, recorded 31 assists as a team. A big reason why Pierce and Allen hit so many shots is that they were always open.
The Celtics' starters moved the ball with incredible ease as the Knicks struggled to communicate and pick up the correct assignments.
The Celtics also did a good job of not letting Amar'e Stoudemire get going after missing most of game two with back spasms, and making Carmelo Anthony uncomfortable any time they had the ball.
Shooting the ball well helped too. The Celtics finished the night shooting 50.6 percent from the floor and 58.3 percent from three. Boston could've cloned Reggie Miller five times and still not shot that well.
Why the Knicks Lost
The Knicks really miss Chauncey Billups,—not so much as a shooter or a playmaker, but as more of a floor leader.
The Carmelo Knicks have only been playing together for about a month, and there are still some obvious issues with team defense.
The Knicks gave the Celtics wide open looks on almost every possession of the game, and they were especially bad on second-chance points. New York gave up an incredible 13 offensive boards, even though the Celtics are notorious for not crashing the offensive glass.
The Knicks forced plenty of turnovers (20 to be exact), and did a good job of getting to the free throw line (21-28), but no amount of scoring will make a difference if they're so lethargic and discombobulated on the defensive end.
Can the Celtics Keep Shooting This Well?
Pretty much everyone on the Celtics shot well, but Pierce and Allen were out of this world.
They combined for 70 points on 25-37 shooting (14-19 from three). That's absolutely insane!
Pierce and Allen are two of the best shooters in the NBA and can score from anywhere on the floor, but there's no way that kind of shooting is sustainable.
One of them might stay hot for game four, but they can't both keep this up.
The rest of the Celtics were 17-46 from the floor.
Is Amar'e Stoudemire Okay?
Stoudemire admitted to feeling stiff before the game and looked noticeably uncomfortable on the floor, so something is definitely still wrong.
He ended up only playing 30 minutes, and was pretty much useless on both ends of the floor—finishing with three rebounds and seven points on 2-8 shooting.
Stoudemire is the one player on the Knicks' roster who the Celtics absolutely cannot guard, and he's probably their best defensive player too.
The Knicks don't have anyone on their bench who is anything more than a last resort (Jared Jeffries?), so Stoudemire needs to come back Sunday with his patented explosiveness if New York is going to have any chance of winning a game in this series.
Can Anyone Stop Rajon Rondo?
The Celtics' spark plug finished with another triple double, accumulating 15 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists. He added a couple of steals too, just for good measure.
That kind of performance has become pretty typical for Rondo when it's playoff time, but it doesn't even look like he's breaking a sweat while tearing the Knicks apart.
Losing Chauncey Billups certainly hurt the Knicks, but Billups isn't athletic enough to stay with the 25 year-old either.
Neither Toney Douglas nor Anthony Carter stands any chance of staying in front of Rondo. If the Knicks want to slow him down, they'll need to know that Stoudemire and Ronny Turiaf are ready and able to close off the lane to the basket.
The key here is team defense, something the Knicks have yet to master.
Will Someone Step Up for the Knicks?
With Stoudemire hobbling and Billups still sidelined, the Knicks offense is rapidly becoming very one-dimensional.
Carmelo Anthony is an incredible scorer and almost single-handedly won game two, but he can't do that every night.
Who's going to help him?
Jared Jeffries is the veteran and played more minutes than any other Knick tonight, but he's limited offensively and is too small to go up against Kevin Garnett or Glen Davis.
Shawne Williams, the Knicks' leading scorer with 17 points, is a terrific shooter, but he really struggles creating shots for himself and isn't much of a ball handler.
Bill Walker is a nice player and has a whole offensive repertoire, but he was playing in the D-League just a couple of years ago, and is still very mistake-prone offensively.
Toney Douglas, 15 points on 4-6 shooting, is a solid player, too. But he's overmatched playing against Rondo, and needs to dedicate more energy to his defense.
That leaves just rookie Landry Fields, a promising player who can shoot, rebound, and even play a little bit of defense. But do the Knicks really want to make a rookie the second offensive scoring option against one of the best defenses in the NBA?
Will the Knicks Get Chauncey Billups Back?
The Knicks seemed to do just fine without their starting point guard in game two, but then completely self-destructed in game three. They clearly need a veteran presence to keep them focused for all 48 minutes.
Billups should be ready to go by game four, but even if he's in the starting lineup, he won't be at 100 percent.
Toney Douglas has done a respectable job of filling Billups' spot; however, he's definitely not a long-term solution and is not known as a very good distributor.
Anything the Knicks can get out of Billups for the rest of this series will be a positive.
Will the Celtics Get Shaquille O'Neal Back?
The oldest player in the NBA has been sidelined with various injuries almost all season, and Celtics' fans have been patiently awaiting his return to the court.
The Celtics may not need him in this series with the way Jermaine O'Neal is playing, but they most definitely will need a man of his size against the Miami Heat.
It'd be nice to get him caught up to speed in games four or five, just so he doesn't get winded within five minutes of stepping on the floor in Miami.
I believe Doc Rivers when he says that Shaq is close to returning, and I believe he could've suited up today if the Celtics had really needed him. But Danny Ainge and the rest of the Boston organization are thinking big picture, and they want to save Shaq for the stretch run, which is exactly what they're doing.
Can the Knicks Make a Comeback?
No team in NBA history has ever come back from an 0-3 series record to win it, and the Knicks will not be the first.
They have talent, and Stoudemire and Anthony make up the best duo in the NBA this side of South Beach, but this is a team with far too many kinks to seriously contend for an NBA championship.
The Celtics are the more experienced team, and they're showing it in this series. Boston should be able to finish off their division rivals in game four to complete the sweep.