Celtics-Knicks Factbox: Game Three

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Celtics-Knicks Factbox: Game Three

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

The Boston Celtics put together their most complete game of the playoffs, easily defeating New York, 113-96. Boston now has a 3-0 series lead with a chance to close it out on Sunday.

Star of the game: Lots of worthy candidates for this, but the play of Paul Pierce stood out for several reasons. You love the fact that he had a game-high 38 points on an efficient 14-of-19 shooting night. Even more impressive than that was the way his defense on Carmelo Anthony, which set the tone for the C's overall play defensively against the Knicks' top scorer in this series. Anthony had just 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting from the field.

Studs: Rajon Rondo looked a lot like the Rajon Rondo we saw early in the season whose play was worthy of at least being mentioned among the top players in the game. He finished with his fourth career triple-double, scoring 15 points to go with 11 rebounds and 20 - yeah, that's right - 20 assists. And as usual, Ray Allen continues to deliver big games that far too often get overshadowed by the play of his teammates. Rarely has 32 points seemed to come as easy as it looked for Allen, who drained eight of his 11 3-point attempts.

Duds: The back spasms that cut Amar'e Stoudemire's night short in Game 2, were clearly an issue for him Friday night. When he drove to the basket, he didn't have nearly the explosiveness that we've come to expect. And when he shot jumpers, there was little to no lift on the shots. The end result was a seven-point game on 2-for-8 shooting from the field.

Key stat: The Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA during the regular season, were plus-10 (44-33) on the boards Friday night. Many of those rebounds were offensive grabs, which factored into the Celtics having a 22-15 advantage in second-chance points.

What to look for in Game 4: Can Rondo, Pierce and Allen continue to dominate the Knicks the way they did in Game 3? Can Amar'e Stoudemire (back spasms) get healthy enough between now and Sunday to give them more than seven points on 2-for-8 shooting? And what about Chauncey Billups? Will his left knee injury heal in time for him to return on Sunday? Speaking of returning, what about Shaquille O'Neal? Even if he's healthy enough to play, do you play him with a 3-0 series lead and risk him getting hurt prior to a second-round matchup with Miami?

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

C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

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C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

WALTHAM -- The national anthem protests by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have had an undeniable ripple effect on professional sports teams across the country. And that includes the Boston Celtics.
 
“We as an organization know what’s going on,” said Marcus Smart. “We read and see and hear about it every day. It’s a sensitive subject for everybody.”
 
While it’s unlikely that Celtics players will do something similar to Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, there’s no question some are figuring out the best way to utilize their platform as athletes to express their views on current social issues.
 
“Us athletes have to take advantage of the stage we’re on,” said Jae Crowder. “Try to make a positive out it. You can’t fix negative problems with negative energy. I don’t want to do anything negative; I want to do something positive, shed light on the situation.”
 
Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and a number of professional athletes have tried to have more attention paid to recent killings of African-Americans by police officers where, based on the video footage, it appears excessive or unnecessary force was used.
 
It is a topic that has brought a wide range of responses from many in the sports world, including the dean of NBA coaches, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
 
During the Spurs’ media day this week, he was asked about the Kaepernick’s protests.
 
“I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done,” Popovich told reporters. “The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it.”
 
As examples of the political pressure he was referring to, Popovich mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to galvanize group, as well as the NBA and other organizations pulling their events out of the state of North Carolina because of its legislation as it relates to the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
 
“The important thing that Kaepernick and others have done is keep it in the conversation,” Popovich said.
 
And while there may be differing opinions as to whether Kaepernick or any other athlete should be protesting, the one common thread that seems to bind the Celtics players and the front office is them having the right to speak out not only as professional athletes, but Americans.
 
“The biggest thing is we all really value the freedoms that we have and that we’ve been allotted,” said coach Brad Stevens, who added that he has had individual discussions with players on this subject. “We certainly support an individual’s freedoms. It’s been great to engage in those discussions. It’s been really fun for me how excited our guys are about using their platform.”
 
And that more than anything else is why Crowder feels the Celtics have to have a united front as far as the message they present to the masses.
 
“If we want change we have to do it together,” Crowder said. “I feel like those guys (other athletes) used their platforms well. I think more athletes should do the same. You can’t do it with any hatred; you can’t do it with any negative. You have to do it with positive energy.”