In the first game of the 2013 NBA playoffs, and the first game of this series, the Boston Celtics come up short against the New York Knicks 85-78. Every bad thing the Celtics have done in the regular season surfaced in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, as Boston made careless passes and missed opportunities down the stretch. Today was a perfect opportunity to steal a game in New York, but Boston let it slip out of their grasp and will have to fight hard to even up the series on Tuesday.
The first half was entertaining, with both teams on fire offensively going back and forth and swapping lead changes. Jeff Green scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half alone as he was very aggressive early in the game, taking jump shots when he was open and didn’t force anything on offense. The Celtics offense in general was consistent and was at a level much higher than they had played all season. However, the Knicks showed up as well and didn’t allow the Celtics to extend a lead past seven points.
The second half got ugly, sloppy, and completely took Boston out of their rhythm. Both teams came out of halftime slow, making careless mistakes and not playing good offense. The Celtics were unable to capitalize when the Knicks weren’t converting on offense, and was giving up multiple second chance opportunities off missed shots by New York. The Knicks defense deserve a lot of credit as they finally have a team who can play both ends of the floor. They stopped Boston from getting into the paint and forced them to either take bad shots or make difficult passes.
The fourth quarter was absolutely depressing as Boston had consecutive, fruitless possessions that were just absolutely frustrating to watch and was completely out of character for the Celtics. Time after time Boston would try isolation plays with Paul Pierce, and while on some possessions it worked, playing one on five will not end with positive results. Jason Terry who has struggled all season, didn’t come up big when the team needed him, missing wide open three point shots that could have helped Boston get a lead or cut into the deficit. But the whole team ran and hid in the clutch moments today as no one wanted to make a play in the fourth quarter. Someone needs to step up, and if that doesn’t happen, the Celtics will not get by the Knicks in this series.
Game 2 is Tuesday at 8pm. To say it’s a must win for Boston would be an understatement. If Boston falls short again, that puts a lot of pressure on the team to take care of home court and win both Game 3 and 4. The Celtics are not cooked yet, but losing on Tuesday would put Boston in a deep hole. They have the experience, but going up against the Knicks talent has been a challenge. Boston played well for three quarters, but just like they’ve done the last three seasons, they couldn’t finish the deal in the final minutes. If they lose this series, we may all look back on this game as “the one that got away”.