Celtics pull off sweep, beat Knicks, 101-89

191544.jpg

Celtics pull off sweep, beat Knicks, 101-89

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK For most of the night, the Boston Celtics made it look easy.

The defense was crisp and the offense had a Niagara Falls-like flow to it.

Boston even called off the search party for its bench, which had been missing in action throughout most of the first three games.

Then came some Celtics slippage, hot-shooting by the New York Knicks and just like that - new ballgame, folks.

But on this day, with so much at stake, the Celtics refused to let their lead-blowing tendencies get in the way of yet another milestone during the Big Three era.

When the game mattered most, the Celtics' defense was too good, Kevin Garnett was too hot and the Knicks were too overwhelmed by it all as the Celtics pulled away for a 101-89 victory Sunday at Madison Square Garden to complete the first playoff series sweep in the Big Three regime.

It was also the Celtics' first sweep in the playoffs since 1992 (vs. Indiana), and first in a best-of-seven series since 1986 (vs. Milwaukee)

Garnett, whose defense late in the first three games critical to Boston victories, was the Celtics' go-to guy when in the game's closing moments.

He led all Celtics with 26 points to go with 10 rebounds, and also scored six of Boston's final eight points.

"It was great to see that," said coach Doc Rivers. "Fourth-quarter scoring for him has been very good for us all year. He did that again tonight."

For most of the game, it didn't seem as though the C's would need any late-game heroics to send the Knicks home for the summer.

After trailing for the entire game in Friday's 113-96 Game 3 win, the Knicks weren't much better on Sunday. Their lead over the C's in Game 4 lasted less than two minutes - all in the first quarter.

Boston maintained a modest lead for most of the first quarter, but didn't really seize control until the second quarter with a strong showing by the Celtics' bench.

In a matter of minutes, Boston's six-point lead had blossomed into a 17-point margin by halftime.

Glen Davis, who came into Game 4 shooting 5-for-16 from the field and not really making much of an impact defensively or on the boards, was all over the floor on Sunday, delivering the kind of high-energy, hustle plays the Celtics are counting on him to provide.

He also came through with some much-needed baskets, scoring 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting to go with five rebounds.

But these are the Celtics.

And a game by the Green team wouldn't be complete without some stretch of lackluster play.

That was indeed the case in the third quarter, as Boston's lead - which peaked at 23 points - was trimmed all the way down to just four (84-80) following a 3-pointer by Anthony. (That's Anthony Carter, not Carmelo Anthony.)

After a Celtics timeout, lay-ups by Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo had the C's back up by eight points.

The Knicks were never able to get any closer than that.

Rivers was pleased with the win, but would have preferred his team to close the game out in better fashion.

"We dropped the guard a little bit," Rivers said. "We came out and scored a little bit to start the third and we lost our edge and they had an edge."

But New York's edge wasn't nearly as sharp as it could have been, not with Amar'e Stoudemire limited because of a back injury and Chauncey Billups (left knee) unable to play in the last three games.

"It was tough," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said of Sunday's loss. "Boston is a good team, obviously. We just didn't get quite enough from a lot of people. We really played hard the whole series. I thought these guys played as hard as they could."

Now the Celtics' focus will shift to the next round, where they will likely face Miami. The Heat lead their series with Philadelphia, 3-1.

One thing is for sure.

The Celtics are starting to show signs of being the team we saw at the start of the season, and not the one that limped into the playoffs.

How do we know?

Because they're starting to make the game look easy.

"I love our team," Rivers said. "We do some things that are a little nuts, but they have a way to play together and they trust each other and as a coach, that's all you can ask for."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bradley left off NBA's all-defensive teams

Bradley left off NBA's all-defensive teams

BOSTON – Avery Bradley was one of the NBA’s better defenders this past season, even as injuries limited him to just 55 games played. 

The lack of court time may have been a factor in Bradley being left off the NBA’s all-defensive first and second teams which were announced on Monday. 

Bradley, a member of the NBA's all-defensive first team last season, received 12 first-place votes as part of a 46-point voting total which was tops among the players who did not make the first or second team. 

Golden State’s Draymond Green, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard were the top three vote-getters, which explains why they are the three finalist for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award which will be announced tonight during the NBA Awards show which begins at 9 p.m. on TNT.

In addition to Green, Gobert and Leonard, the first team also included Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul who was named to his seventh all-NBA defensive team, with this being the sixth straight time being on the first unit. Houston’s Patrick Beverley, a second-team all-NBA defensive selection following the 2013-2014 season, was also named to the first team. 

The second unit included Memphis guard (and former Celtic) Tony Allen, San Antonio’s Danny Green, New Orleans center Anthony Davis with Oklahoma City’s Andre Roberson and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo rounding out the second team. 

In addition to Bradley, other Celtics receiving votes for one of the two all-defensive teams included Marcus Smart (five first-place votes, 21 points total); Jae Crowder (five points total) and Isaiah Thomas (one point total). 

Brown earns spot on NBA's all-rookie second team

Brown earns spot on NBA's all-rookie second team

BOSTON – Drafted with the third overall pick by a playoff team like the Boston Celtics, the expectations for Jaylen Brown were limited as best. 

But the 6-foot-7 rookie showed steady improvement throughout the season, and his hard work was rewarded on Monday with a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie second team. 

Joining Brown on the second team were Denver’s Jamal Murray, Phoenix forward Marquese Chriss, Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and Dallas’s Yogi Ferrell. 

The first team consisted of Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon and Philadelphia’s Dario Saric who were the only two unanimous selections to the first unit. They were joined by Sixers big man Joel Embiid, Sacramento’s Buddy Hield and New York center Willy Hernangomez. 

Brogdon, Saric and Embiid are the three finalists for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award which will be announced tonight during the league’s NBA Awards show at 9 p.m. tonight on TNT.

Brown appeared in 78 games for the Celtics with 20 starts, averaging 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.