This was the best game I’ve seen this season! Absolutely amazing 4th quarter. Both teams’ starting point guards were out – Felton with an injury and Rondo with a suspension – and actual plays were hard to come by. Lots of gritty play and hustle to make up for the sloppiness. Carmelo and Garnett got into it big time. I actually thought Anthony was going to flat out jack KG’s jaw for a few plays. Refs could have thrown them both but didn’t.
The close out by Boston was superior coaching. The Celtics ran a steady diet of Pierce / KG pick and roll (something they might want to stick with even with Rondo back) that led to open corner jumpers and even open layups for their teammates. The Knicks’ response was to switch the screen, putting Chandler on Pierce and Anthony on KG, who Melo was only too happy to pound on but not really able to defend. This led to double teams, which led to open shots.
On the other end the Knicks went to a steady diet of Carmelo / Chandler pick and roll, which Doc Rivers countered by going small and playing a zone. The zone allowed them to double Anthony off the screen without giving up the roll to Tyson. Woodson could have countered by replacing STAT with a three point shooter like Novak, but he stuck with Amare, which ruined the defensive spacing. New York did manage to work the offensive glass, but they just didn’t get enough of the collected back-taps put through the rim, and KG made all his free throws to ice the game.
The Melo / KG confrontation was very interesting in that Melo seemed to punk Garnett on the court, walking him down and talking smack while KG continued to turn away and back down. BUT Garnett didn’t get rattled, played under control, and made clutch free throws, smart passes, and great defensive rotations. Melo on the other hand went into a shooting rage which had spotty results. Hard to tell for sure, but it kind of looked like KG pulled a Dennis Rodman on Carmelo, instigating, instigating, instigating, and then refusing to bite on the confrontation until the opponent got so frustrated he abandoned the game plan and shot his team out of the contest. Might just be a coincidence, but it sure looks like a DPoY Jedi mindtrick in hindsight.