Rapid Reaction: Celtics 112, Knicks 102
April, 13, 2011
By Chris Sheridan | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score | Photos
WHAT IT MEANS: Nothing. Seriously, this game meant nothing to either team, which was why Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo did not play. For the Knicks, the only priority was to get Amare Stoudemire some playing time after he missed three games with a sprained left ankle. Stoudemire played 20½ minutes and shot 6-for-15 for 14 points and four rebounds. He did show some lingering effects from the ankle injury, blowing a wide-open dunk when he leaped off his left leg and failed to get enough air to throw the ball down. In another dunk moment to remember, Jeff Green of the Celtics dunked in the first quarter, and the ball went through the rim, hit the top of his had and bounced back up through the cylinder. The basket did not count.
TURNING POINT: Boston opened the fourth quarter with a 22-6 run to turn a two-point lead into a blowout before the Knicks narrowed the final margin in garbage time. The only question after that was whether Renaldo Balkman would get into the game for the Knicks, and he did not. He has appeared in only three games since being acquired from Denver, making one shot -- a 3-pointer. Balkman is under contract for two more years.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: There wasn't one, but if there was a side story to watch -- something I alluded to in my column after Tuesday night's loss to the Bulls -- it was the numbers produced by Landry Fields and Bill Walker. Coach Mike D'Antoni has said the performance of his young, untested players is one of his key concerns heading into the postseason, and Fields has not been the same productive player since the Anthony trade as he was before it. Fields finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, and Walker scored 12 on 3-for-6 shooting.
PLAYOFF PLAN: D'Antoni announced that Ronny Turiaf would be his starting center for Game 1 of the playoffs, when the Celtics say they expect to have Shaquille O'Neal healthy and ready to go. Turiaf started 21 games during the regular season, while Jared Jeffries started nine and Shelden Williams eight. (Timofey Mozgov started 14 before being traded to Denver).
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks are expected to take a day off Thursday before practicing Friday and Saturday in Greenburgh and then traveling to Boston for Game 1, which tips at 7 p.m. Sunday night. Had the NBA scheduled Game 2 for Wednesday night, the Knicks would have returned home after Game 1. Instead, they will stay in Boston through Tuesday night, then get ready for next Friday night, when Madison Square Garden will play host to an NBA playoff game for the first time since 2004.