Celtics-Knicks review: What we saw . . .


Celtics-Knicks review: What we saw . . .

BOSTON The Boston Celtics escaped with a 115-111 overtime win over the New York Knicks, a game in which the Celtics got so many big contributions from so many key players.

Paul Pierce had a game-high 34 points, including the 3-pointer to force overtime. Rajon Rondo had a tripled double of 18 points, 17 rebounds and 20 assists - numbers the NBA hasn't seen in more than a decade.

That doesn't even factor in the 18-point, 10-rebound game for Kevin Garnett, or the 18 points Boston got from Brandon Bass who left the game for a spell after injury his ankle.

"Everyone stepped up," Rondo said. "Ray (Allen) and Brandon (Bass), P (Pierce), we all made special efforts when it counted."

Rondo's right.

There were a number of factors that helped the Celtics extend their winning streak to four in a row.

Here's a review of some we focused on prior to tip-off.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - Of course much of the attention going into today's game will be on Harvard's own Jeremy Lin who is scoring and passing at an incredibly high rate. Yes, he puts up a bunch of big numbers - including turnovers. Although he only committed one turnover in New York's last game on Wednesday, he has turned the ball over 68 times in his 12 starts - the most by any player in their first 12 NBA starts since 1977 which is when turnovers became an official NBA statistic. The previous high was 64, set by Allen Iverson in 1996.

WHAT WE SAW - The Celtics did a good job of not allowing Jeremy Lin to ever get into any kind flow all game. He finished with 14 points, but did it on 6-for-16 shooting. In addition, he turned the ball over six times while only dishing out five assists. "They sent a lot of bodies and they had me take a lot of tough shots," Lin said. "I didn't get a lot of easy stuff today, but still in my opinion I should have finished a lot of those shots."

MATCHUP TO WATCH - Kevin Garnett vs. Tyson Chandler: Garnett continues to play out of his mind, out of position. The power forward-turned center has been a stalwart at both ends of the floor, scoring and defending like the old Garnett - and not just an older, Garnett. He has had back-to-back games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, the fifth time he has done that as a Celtic but it's the first time since November 2008. ""Preference-wise, I don't like it," Garnett said of playing center. "I'm a 4 (power forward). I don't like - you know, it is what it is. I'll do whatever this team needs me to be, other than a cheerleader with pom-pons and some short-shorts." Chandler poses a different kind of challenge for Garnett. While the strength of most centers is usually the biggest concern for Garnett in the middle, Chandler's ability to run the floor well will be the biggest challenge for Garnett today.

WHAT WE SAW - Garnett continues to outplay his opposition, regardless of how younger or more athletic they may appear to be. Garnett delivered his 10th double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Meanwhile, Tyson had eight points and 14 rebounds but for the most part, he didn't have nearly as much of an impact defensively as Garnett did.

PLAYER TO WATCH - During Boston's three-game winning streak, one of the more unsung heroes for the Celtics has been Chris Wilcox off the bench. In the last three games, Wilcox has averaged 8.7 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 60 percent (9-for-15) from the field. Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said Wilcox, more than anything else, is playing the role that he has to serve for the C's. "His role is pretty much defined," Rivers said. "His role is energy, rebounding, running the floor, setting picks, rolling, finishing. I mean, that's a simple role. But it's a hard role to do everyday, because it takes energy to do it."

WHAT WE SAW - Wilcox didn't play major minutes and didn't have a major impact on the game, but he did give the Celtics solid production when he was on the floor. He finished with six points on 3-of-4 shooting, to go with three rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK - The Celtics are coming off a 50-point night of points scored in the paint against New Jersey, the highest they had scored since they dropped 52 on the Knicks in the regular season-finale last April. One of the reasons the C's have to feel pretty good about their chances of scoring around the basket today, is because are not exactly a team filled with shot-blockers. In fact, New York ranks 28th in the NBA in blocks per game, with 4.2.

WHAT WE SAW - Boston continues to generate more and more offense around the basket. For the second straight game, the Celtics were able to hit the 50-point plateau in points scored in the paint, which speaks to how the C's are making a conscious effort to generate as much offense as possible in the paint.

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all.