Close games the norm for Celtics-Knicks this season

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Close games the norm for Celtics-Knicks this season

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics led by 15 points. The New York Knicks were up by 12. Yet it came as no surprise that Sundays game between the Atlantic Division foes was decided in overtime.

The Celtics and Knicks have met three times this season with the games being decided by a total of eight points. The Knicks took the season opener, 106-104, and the Celtics evened up the series with a 91-89 win in February.

On Sunday, it took an extra five minutes before the Celtics edged out the Knicks, 115-111.

You know what it is, said Paul Pierce. Youve got an Atlantic rivalry. Its not only been this season. Its been since they traded for Amare (Stoudemire) and Carmelo (Anthony) and they became relevant again. Its just something about that New York - Boston rivalry. The games, you see the energy watching the crowd, the energy in the stands. When you go to Madison (Square Garden), when you come here, thats just the way it is. Those games seem to always come down to the last second.

Games between the Celtics and Knicks became more emphasized after the Knicks acquired Anthony last season. The Celtics swept them in the first round of the playoffs last year, only enhancing the significance of their regular season match ups.

Both teams were ready to fight it out until the end on Sunday afternoon. Pierce tied a season high with 34 points, Anthony led the Knicks with 25, and Rondo posted an incredible stat line with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 20 assists.

The great players, they really like to play in these types of games, said Pierce. They like to step up, as you saw tonight. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, (Rajon) Rondo, myself, Melo (Carmelo Anthony) hit some big shots. Thats what makes the game of basketball and these types of games versus New York so fun because you always see the great players rise to the finish.

The Celtics (19-17) and Knicks (18-19) are battling for position in the Eastern Conference standings. They will play the final game of their regular season series on April 17 in New York. At that point, the postseason will be right around the corner and both teams will be vying for playoff seedings.

With winning a title on their minds, expect that game to be just as intense as the previous three this season.

The Knicks were a great team back then and they have a good team now, a playoff team now, said Mickael Pietrus. The Celtics have always been a winning team, a franchise with so many banners. I think in the East, they want to compete against each other and they want to prove who has the best team, so thats why I think the games have been so close. At the end of the day, every player is trying to win for their franchise.

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

David Backes on the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and simulcast on CSN, tells fill-in hosts Jim Murray and Greg Dickerson there has also been some discussion with the Bruins of putting him on the wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Watch the video above for more. 

OFFSEASON

Celtics’ Young has seen first-hand the work Durant puts in

Celtics’ Young has seen first-hand the work Durant puts in

BOSTON – We have all seen what Kevin Durant can do in games. He’s a near 7-footer with lethal shooting range who, on most nights, makes the game look so easy.
 
Still, he is often praised for his work ethic in practice and offseason workouts, something Celtics guard/forward James Young knows from first-hand experience.
 
Last summer, Young spent time working out in the summer with Durant, who, like Young, is represented by Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports.
 
Durant, the top free agent on the market this summer, has narrowed his list of potential teams to play for next season to six.
 
The Celtics made the cut and will get a face-to-face meeting with Durant this weekend.
 
You can add Young to the list of Celtics who would love to call Durant a teammate.
 
“He would mean a lot to the team,” Young said. “He would help the team out.”
 
The in-game production generated by Durant speaks for itself.
 
In nine NBA seasons, he has career averages of 27.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game.
 
But just as impressive is what the 6-foot-11 forward does out of season.
 
“He was focused the whole time; 110 percent,” said Young, referring to working out with Durant last summer. “I try to do that in my workouts and just go from there.”
 
Durant, who is expected to meet with the Celtics on Saturday, will reportedly make a decision on July 4.  

Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

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Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

The Bruins lost a number of free agents on after the market opened at noontime. None bigger than Loui Eriksson signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks to play with the Sedin Twins.

It’s the exact level of term and salary that Eriksson said he was looking for from the Bruins in contract negotiations around the trade deadline, but the Bruins never really moved from their offer of a four-year deal at comparable money.

The Bruins will miss the 30-goal production and solid all-around, two-way play from Eriksson as he heads to the West Coast, but they also traded in a passive player in Eriksson for an in-your-face, physical leader in David Backes on a five-year deal. 

Backes is much more of a Bruins-style player than Eriksson could have ever hoped to have been. That part of it is a win for a Bruins fan base that wants intensity and physicality from their players.

The Bruins also watched Jonas Gustavsson sign a one-year, $800,000 contract with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers, Brett Connolly sign a one-year deal for $850,000 with the Washington Capitals, Zach Trotman signs a one-year deal for $950,000 and Lee Stempniak ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after being a non-contract training camp invite with New Jersey last season.

Sweeney had maintained as late as Thursday that he was still keeping ties with many of Boston’s free agents prior to the noon opening of the free agent market, but clearly that’s changed.

“We’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit,” said Sweeney on the Torey Krug conference call on Thursday night. “I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”