Post Up: Warrior Strong

by April 27, 2013

Knicks 90, Celtics 76 (Knicks lead series 3-0)

The Knicks quickly took the air out of an emotional TD Garden as they made it clear that the tide of this series would not be turning. Behind a game-high 26 points from Carmelo Anthony, and 15 points and 10 dimes from Raymond Felton, New York dominated from the opening whistle to the final whistle to win their third straight game over Boston and first playoff game away from home since 2001.

The Knicks held the Celtics to just 31 first half points, and took a 16-point lead into the break as Boston’s offensive woes continued. The main source of the problem: Boston’s lack of a floor general. Starting point guard Avery Bradley had zero(!) assists in 32 minutes and the Celtics tallied just 14 on the game. Not only were its assist numbers woeful, but Boston also turned the ball over 17 times which led to 11 fast break points for New York. Compare that to the Knicks 22 assists and 11 turnovers and it’s no surprise that the Knicks won with ease.

With the Knicks dominating throughout, there wasn’t much excitement for the Celtics fans in attendance. That changed with about seven minutes left in the fourth. With Jason Terry playing tough defense on JR Smith (15 points) elbowed JET right in the chin. The refs called the foul a flagrant 2 and Smith was ejected from the game. The Celtics used the momentum to put together a small run, but by that point it was too late and the Knicks soon quelled any hope of a comeback. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is now at the will of the NBA officials and there is a chance he will be suspended for Game 4.

Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni was all over the floor, harassing the Celtics guards, and finished with 9 points and 5 steals. Kenyon Martin put together another outstanding defensive performance and shut down Kevin Garnett whenever he was in the game. As of now, K-Mart has arguably been the Knicks’ second most important piece during the playoffs.

Jeff Green scored 21 points and grabbed 9 boards, Paul Pierce scored 17 on 6-15 shooting and KG finished with 12 points and 17 boards, but the Celtics’ bench was virtually nonexistent.

The Knicks go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon in Boston.—Peter Walsh

Spurs 120, Lakers 89 (Spurs lead series 3-0)

This was some weapons-grade futility that ended quickly after the second half started. The Lakers fielded what might have been the worst backcourt in NBA history, they started 2/3rds of it, and they lost by 31, 120-89. It was worse than that.

Now a bunch of reporters are feverishly checking Twitter because something unbelievable is happening in every second of this Warriors-Nuggets game as Mike D’Antoni talks over them.

“There’s not a lot to ask,” says D’Antoni, but, again, everyone’s just checking Twitter.

“In the first half, we gave it everything we had. For 30 minutes, they played the best they could. It wasn’t enough,” he says, which sounds like a particularly cruel thing to say about your own players, but no one noticed because everyone is missing something insane on TV with every sentence this continues to go on.

“Let’s hope we get some energy on Sunday. We’ll play as hard as we can play and hopefully it’ll work out a little better,” says Mike D’Antoni, and then the lights literally go out, someone shuts them off by mistake, which would be a nice little story — a very fitting parable for this whole slipshod 2013 Lakers campaign — if everyone on Twitter wasn’t talking in all caps and very vaguely about everything that’s going on in Oakland.

Seriously, someone just Tweeted “F–K DEFENSE SCORING IS AWESOME.” I’m not supposed to leave the room after that? Come on.

Gregg Popovich was almost asked zero (0) questions because reporters were furiously hitting their phones like a tree full of apples waiting for information to come pouring out of the Warriors game, which, if you didn’t know, was also happening, and we were all missing it, watching the Spurs beat a D-League team by one-hundred points.

Tim Duncan had 26. Tony Parker had 20.

Pau Gasol had a triple double (11, 13, 10 assists) and recited some pabulum about how it was an empty experience because, you know, it was. He looked appropriately sad, but as you can tell by the quotes above, not even the Lakers thought they had a snowball’s chance in a Peruvian summer even before this game started.

I don’t know if that analogy made sense. I’m just trying to find highlights of the Warriors game.

LA started Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, who were fighting each other to stay on the roster in training camp. After everything fell apart, they both wound up scoring 20-plus points and playing 37-plus minutes in a playoff game, which would be a wonderful story if this game was ever really in jeopardy.

It wasn’t. Metta World Peace had his knee drained at halftime, so in came Chris Duhon to play small forward to start the half for the Lakers.

Then the fans sort of burped out “We Want Phil” in unison because there’s no recourse for this. Everything bad must have blame placed upon it in the era of instant reaction — even if fate punches you very hard and very publicly in the face, even if this was understandably inevitable.

Then those fans left in droves with 7:51 in the fourth quarter because there was nothing left to do. There is no jumbotron video that says “EVERYBODY SHAKE YOUR FISTS AT GOD.”

Actually, if there is, call me. I want to see it.

There is no mercy rule, either, so we’ll go through this whole rigmarole again on Sunday before the Spurs go on to see a challenge.

Warriors 110, Nuggets 108. Wait. Here: Spurs 120, Lakers 89.—Ben Collins / @globesoundtrack

Nuggets 108, Warriors 110 (Warriors lead series 2-1)

The discussion heading into Game 3 of the opening-round Playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors always seemed to revert to one thing. Nope, not lineup changes Denver could make next. Nope, not the exquisite shooting performance by Golden State in Game 2. No, there’s only one thing on people’s mind coming into Friday’s Playoff battle in Oakland…

Would the Bay Area crowd be as live in 2013 as it was in 2007?

“I couldn’t think, it was that loud. One of the craziest things I’ve ever experienced, you couldn’t hear anything.” — Warriors rookie center Festus Ezeli

This 2013 Warriors Playoff squad had to unfair opportunity to follow the 2007 “We Believe” Warriors squad, a miracle-making team of outcasts and ragamuffins who dethroned the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks with the help of an Oracle Arena crowd that could only be compared to a rowdy mob hopped up on Red Bull and Mac Dre rap songs. I’d only witnessed what this crowd was capable of on my TV, and viewing it was awe-inspiring. Six years later, this new Warriors squad, and the people who support them, would have to come together to recreate an atmosphere that produced one of the NBA’s finest moments.

“The fans really had that energy stored up.” — Warriors guard Stephen Curry

With an 11-point halftime deficit, the Warriors fans wouldn’t let the Warriors players fail. Well, that’s what it felt like. In reality, Stephen Curry started raining threes, Jarrett Jack started knifing to the rim, Carl Landry started doing grown-man things in the post and the Dubs four rookies were out there not playing like rookies. In the 110-108 victory, Golden State now carries a 2-1 lead in the series and has Denver on the ropes. The Nuggets have traded blows with the Warriors for three games, but after escaping with a Game 1 win, the Warriors have shot 58.5 percent combined from the field in the following two games, both losses. You’re not going to win many games by letting your opponent shoot like that. It’s a shame too, because on Friday night Ty Lawson played arguably the greatest game of his professional life. Scoring with ease and dropping dimes (like way) to the tune of 35 points and 10 assists, it looked like Lawson would take Denver over the finish line. Then Stephen Curry happened.

“This is going to sound like a broken record, but somebody owes the kid an apology. Please write the article and say sorry, he’s an All-Star. He’s a big-time player and he made big-time plays.” — Warriors head coach Mark Jackson

An assist here, a rebound there and big shot after big shot after big shot everywhere by Curry brought things home for the Warriors. Until I got into the locker room and saw Curry stick his bare feet into a tub of ice did I even remember that he’d severely sprained his ankle in Game 2. 29 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 healthy ankles later, Curry and the Warriors will walk back into Oracle Arena on Sunday knowing that they are halfway to their goal and that the crowd will still believe. The Nuggets will have to walk back into Oracle Arena knowing that change must be made, that defense must be played and that a shift in power can still be swayed.

Regardless on how this ends, this is the best series of the opening round, and it’s not even close.—Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan