Close games the norm for Celtics-Knicks this season


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.

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

With the NFL facing more PR issues by the day, Randy Moss has identified what he feels is wrong with a league that can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

In wake of the Josh Brown situation, which saw the NFL blame the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office for the lack of initial punishment given to the Giants kicker for domestic violence, Moss said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown that commissioner Roger Goodell is the league’s biggest problem. 

“[This is] a bad time to show up now, breast cancer awareness month where we’re supporting the women, and then you come up with this Josh Brown, where it doesn’t seem like we are supporting women,” Moss said. “I think the NFL needs to take a deep look. I think the owners are mad, and Roger Goodell, he is the biggest reason to all of this stuff that’s fallen downhill with the NFL. I have to agree with that.”

Brown was initially given a one-game suspension for violating the league’s conduct policy stemming from his 2015 fourth-degree domestic violence charge. On Friday, the 37-year-old was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. 

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.