Celtics (56-26) at Knicks (42-40)
Celtics lead series 3-0
Playoff Team leaders
Celtics: PPG Paul Pierce (25.3); RPG Kevin Garnett (11.7); APG Rajon Rondo (12.0)
Knicks: PPG Carmelo Anthony (24.0); RPG Carmelo Anthony (10.7); APG Carmelo Anthony (5.3)
The Celtics jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back in Game 3, easily coming away with a 113-96 win on Friday night. Paul Pierce (38 points) and Ray Allen (32 points) had the hot hands shooting the ball, while Rajon Rondo racked up his first playoff triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists. The Knicks, playing without Chauncey Billups (left knee) and a limited Amar'e Stoudemire (back spasms), were led by Carmelo Anthony's 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
What to look for
Doc Rivers' ability to make adjustments at halftime has been huge in this series thus far. Boston has trailed in two of the three games, but has outscored the Knicks by an average of 10 points in the third quarter.
When a fan booed Paul Pierce hours before tip-off in Game 3, Pierce said, "it feels like home." He wasn't kidding. His 38 point eruption in Game 3 was just the latest pummeling by Pierce at Madison Square Garden. In the three games that Pierce has played at MSG this season, he has averaged 30.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 64 percent from the field (32-for-50) and 64 percent on 3s (9-for-14).
Down 3-0 in the series, the Knicks must decide to either raise the white flag and sit Amar'e Stoudemire (back spasms) down, or try to fight on knowing that he could potentially make his back injury worse. Boston's biggest enemy today may very well be themselves. This is the third time this core group has had a team on the verge of being swept. In the two previous instances, both last season, the C's lost before ultimately going on to win the series. Focus, as well as more contributions from the bench, will play a major role in deciding whether the C's Big Four will finally sweep a team out of the playoffs.
WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
This season, all-NBA first team defender is the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.
WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”