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Sunday, April 28, 2013
Halftime Report: Celtics 54, Knicks 35

By Jared Zwerling



BOSTON -- Carmelo Anthony is aiming for the first playoff series sweep in his 10-year career. But he's missing shots -- shooting 3-for-15 from the field -- and his scoring sidekick, J.R. Smith, is serving a suspension for throwing an elbow in Game 3.

At one point in the second quarter, the Knicks featured a lineup of Pablo Prigioni, Jason Kidd, Quentin Richardson, Steve Novak and Kenyon Martin, and they couldn't generate points. And defensively, the Knicks were more mismatched. Without Smith, Martin had to guard Jeff Green consistently for the first time in the series, and the Celtics forward scored on him with ease.

That has been the story of the first half, as the Celtics shot 51.3 percent from field and the Knicks were only at 28.9 percent.

Here are four other main observations at the half:

1. A whole lot more Melo. Without Smith, the Knicks went to their star an increased amount in the post. Melo put in more work, battling against Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass, and he didn't have his usual quick moves to his trademark midrange jump shot. That extra grind, coupled with the Celtics' further zoned-in pressure, limited Melo.

2. Celtics' improved penetration. It all started with Pierce being able to break down the smaller Raymond Felton off of the dribble and get into the paint. That left the baseline corner from 3-point range wide open for the Celtics, and Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford both connected from that spot.

The Celtics had 12 assists and eight turnovers, and the Knicks had only five assists and 12 turnovers. The ball is stalling through Melo, and future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd made two uncharacteristically poor passes as evidence of their poor play.

The Celtics were also effective getting into the paint in transition. While the Knicks controlled the tempo in the first three game, it's now the Celtics playing at a faster pace and scoring in the open court.

3. Tyson Chandler's liveliness. In the series, the starting center has worked his way back to full health after battling a flu, and he had pep in his step on Sunday. He looked quicker off of screens and skied high for two alley-oop dunks in the first half.

4. Where's Cope? With no Smith, you would've thought it was a great opportunity for Chris Copeland to play. But Mike Woodson gave the nod to Steve Novak, who was 1-for-2 from downtown. The coach also played Quentin Richardson three minutes in the first half, and he missed both of his shots.