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Rajon Rondo is blossoming into a poised, mature superstar right before our very eyes. Even in a limited sample size, it's clear that Rondo has started to turn the corner and may be on pace to be the league's best point guard this season.
It only took one game for Kevin Garnett to discover the intensity and physicality that he is known for. After missing a jumper at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime, Garnett let his frustration boil over as evidenced by this shove to Bill Walker's face:
Garnett delivered a strong performance in the season-opener, netting 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the 106-104 loss to the Knicks. However, the Celtics will be frustrated by their execution at the end of the game, as a Carmelo Anthony led rally helped the Knicks grab the victory. The Celtics seemed to miss Paul Pierce in the final two minutes of the game, as they attempted contested shots and struggled to get clean looks at the rim.
NEW YORK - Carmelo Anthony hit the game-winning free throws with 16 seconds remaining and the New York Knicks held off the Boston Celtics, 106-104, in a thrilling season opener at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day.
"I thought we played well," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I thought we were as soft as we could be in the first quarter, and the I thought we joined into the 2011-12 season. And from that point on I was pretty happy with the way we played, I thought we compete well."
Kevin Garnett, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, missed the potential game-tying two as time expired. Boston (0-1) made 39-of-76 shots from the field to shoot 51.3 percent after shooting under 40 percent in the first quarter. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 31 points, 13 assists and five steals while Brandon Bass had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
"We want him to be aggressive," Rivers said of Rondo. "The best part of the game for us I thought Rondo just attacked the basket. This is the Rondo we want."
Said Rivers on Bass, "Kid can play. He's tough. He can finish. He can offensive rebound. He can do a lot of things."
Anthony led all scorers with 37 points on 10-of-17 shooting and also had eight rebounds for New York (1-0), which made 35-of-74 field goals to shoot 47.3 for the game. Amare Stoudemire added 21 points and six rebounds for the Knicks.
Boston fell behind 34-32 after one quarter but outscored New York, 29-28, in the second quarter to keep the deficit at ten points, 62-52, at halftime. The Celtics used a 17-6 run in the second quarter to tie the game at 69 before pulling ahead, 87-79, at the end of the third quarter. New Your outscored Boston, 27-17, in the fourth to capture the win.
Boston returns to action on Tuesday when it faces the Miami Heat in Florida.
NEW YORK - Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass and Ray Allen carried the Boston Celtics to a huge third quarter, as the C's outscored the New York Knicks 35-17 to take an 87-79 lead after three quarters in the season opener in New York City.
Rondo has a game-high 29 points after three quarters while Bass has added 18 points and Allen has 15 points. Boston is shooting 57.1 percent after shooting less than 40 percent in the first quarter and falling behind.
Carmelo Anthony has 20 points and Amare Stoudemire added 17 points for New York, which has shot 45.2 percent through three quarters. Toney Douglas has 16 points and Iman Shumpert has 11 points off the bench.
Shumpert went down with an apparent knee injury late in the third quarter and was carried off the court. He has not returned and there has been no update on his condition.
With all the speculation over the past couple of weeks about Rajon Rondo's future in Boston, there may have been some questions about how the Celtics PG would react early in the season. If his play in the first three quarters against the New York Knicks is any indication, Rondo may be taking his game to an even higher level this season.
Rondo has long been one of the elite defensive guards in the NBA, and with his five steals in the first three quarters, the Celtics PG is only further enhancing his reputation:
Along with his play on the defensive end of the court, Rondo has been simply sensational offensively for the Celtics. Rondo has netted a game-high 29 points on 10/17 shooting from the field and has also dished out eight assists.
Be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation NBA for all the latest updates on the Christmas day action.
NEW YORK - After a strong first quarter, the New York Knicks nearly equaled their production, scoring 28 points to take a 62-52 lead over the Boston Celtics heading into halftime in the NBA season opener on Christmas Day.
Rajon Rondo took over in the middle of the second quarter, finishing the period with 10 points and brining his total to 19 points. Kevin Garnett now has seven points and three rebounds and Brandon Bass scored 10 points off the bench. Sasha Pavlovic, who started in place of the injured Paul Pierce, has zero points and one rebound in 11 minutes.
Despite the score, Boston is outshooting New York, 51.4 percent to 48.8 percent.
Throughout his NBA career, Chris Wilcox has played for numerous different franchises. With stops in Los Angeles, Seattle, Oklahoma City, New York, Detroit and now Boston, you can hardly blame the athletic PF for forgetting who his current teammates are.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, passing to the wrong team has hardly been the biggest issue so far, as the normally stout Boston defense has found it difficult to slow down the Knicks offense. Apart from this mistake, Wilcox has actually been very productive, scoring four points and grabbing three boards in just eight minutes of action.
For all the latest news and notes from the NBA action on Christmas Day, be sure to pay a visit to SB Nation NBA.
NEW YORK - Rajon Rondo was tied with a game-high nine points in the opening quarter, but the Boston Celtics were outshot badly by the New York Knicks and trail 34-23 after twelve minutes of play at Madison Square Garden.
Carmelo Anthony also scored nine points for New York, which shot 52.4 percent in the first quarter. Iman Shumpert scored seven points off the bench and Amare Stoudemire added five points and two boards for the Knicks.
Boston fell behind early, trailing 17-9 with just under seven minutes to play in the first. However, the C's were able to cut the Knicks' lead to three points, 19-16, with 3:50 to go. The Knicks closed out the quarter on a 15-7 run.
Pierce has been recovering from a bruised right heel and was seen on the court less than 90 minutes before tip off wearing a suit while his teammates were warming up. Pavlovic will be starting for the first time as a Celtic.
"It's an amazing feeling," Pavlovic said before the game. "I'm just going to go out there and play as hard as I can and help the team win the game. That's all I'm going to do."
Pavlovic played in 17 games with the Celtics last season after signing with the team late in the season. In those 17 game,s Pavlovic averaged 1.8 points and 0.8 rebounds. In the playoffs, he did not play a game.
On Pierce's injury, Pavlovic wished the Celtics' captain well and hopes for a fast recovery.
"Hopefully he's coming back next game," Pavlovic said. "We need him."
Boston and New York tip off the NBA season at noon EDT. More updates to come.
NEW YORK - Paul Pierce travelled with the Boston Celtics and is reportedly a game-time decision for today's season opener against the New York Knicks. Pierce missed most of training camp with a bruised right heel injury.
With Pierce's status up in the air, it appears as if Sasha Pavlovic would start in Pierce's place if he is unable to go. Marquis Daniel will come off the bench, as Celtics head coach Doc Rivers does not want to mess up the chemistry with the second unit. Pavlovic signed with the C's late last season and returned to the team on a one-year deal this winter.
It is certainly encouraging that Pierce made the trip with the team, but it is still likely that he may not play at all. Pierce played in 80 games for the C's last season and has played in 71 or more games every season since 2007-08.
Event: Boston Celtics (0-0) vs. New York Knicks (0-0).
Date/Time: Sunday, December 25, 2011 - 12:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: Madison Square Garden (Capacity: 19,763), New York City, NY.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's season opener between the Celtics and Knicks will be televised nationally on TNT, with Marv Albert and Steve Kerr calling the action from the sidelines. The game can also be heard of the WEEI Sports Radio Network (93.7 FM/850 AM), with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell serving as the broadcast team. In addition, Comcast SportsNet New England will air the pre- and postgame shows with Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn.
Odds: New York is a five-point favorite over Boston in the season opener.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma, Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Knicks Roster 2011-12: Carmelo Anthony, Renaldo Balkman, Mike Bibby, Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Josh Harrellson, Jared Jeffries, Jerome Jordan, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, Amar'e Stoudemire, Bill Walker. Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni.
Last Season: Boston went 56-26 in the regular season before sweeping the Knicks in the field round of the playoffs. However, the Celtics fell short in the conference semifinals, losing to the eventual conference champion Miami Heat.
New York went 42-40 in the regular season and finished second in the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division behind the Celtics, but were swept out of the playoffs in four games by Boston in the opening round.
Boston and New York met four times in the regular season last year, with the Celtics winning each matchup. In addition, the two teams met four times in the postseason, with Boston winning all four games.
Boston, New York In Preseason: Boston and New York both went 2-0 in the preseason, with the Celtics beating the Toronto Raptors twice and the Knicks defeating the New Jersey Nets two times. Boston escaped with a 76-75 win in the preseason opener last Sunday and won 81-73 on Wednesday night in the preseason finale. New York posted a 92-83 win in the opener and an 88-82 win in the finale over the Nets.
Statistical Leaders: Paul Pierce was the Celtics' leading scorer last season, averaging 18.9 points. Kevin Garnett (14.9 PPG) led the team in rebounding with 8.9 boards per contest. Rajon Rondo (10.6 PPG) led the team in steals (2.3 SPG) and assists (11.2 APG) and Jermaine O'Neal (5.4 PPG) averaged a team-high 1.3 blocks.
Carmelo Anthony was the Knicks' leading scorer in 2010-11, averaging 25.6 points. Amar'e Stoudemire (25.3 PPG) led the team in rebounding (8.2 RPG) and blocks (1.9 BPG). Raymond Felton, who is no longer with the team, led the Knicks in assists (8.3 APG) and steals (1.7 SPG).
Storyline: Finally, basketball has returned. When the Celtics and Knicks tip off at center court at Madison Square Garden, it will issue in a brand news season in the NBA -- one that should have started about one month ago. The NBA Lockout took its toll on the players, coaches and fans, ultimately trimming the season down to 66 games. For some teams, this is an advantage. For others, it will be more challenging due to the increased amount of back-to-back games.
The Celtics fall into the latter category, as they consistently struggled in the second half of back-to-back games last season. As for the Knicks, they have younger stars like Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire that shouldn't be as bothered by the compact schedule, but it will ultimately be a tough challenge for all teams.
As for Sunday's game, the Celtics and Knicks recently rekindled their rivalry after New York acquired Stoudemire prior to the start of last season and then traded for Anthony at the trade deadline. Nevertheless, Boston won all eight meetings against New York in 2011 -- four in the regular season and four in the postseason.
However, Boston will likely be without captain Paul Pierce, who is recovering from a bruised right heel. Sasha Pavlovic, usually an end-of-the-bench type reserve, will be promoted to start in the game, causing concern for many Celtics fans (myself included). Without Pierce, the majority of the scoring load will likely fall on Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. No doubt, Pierce's absence will severely hurt the Celtics in any games they play without him.
New York let point guard Chauncey Billups go via the amnesty clause in the new CBA and replaced him with Baron Davis, who is currently sidelined with a back injury. The Knicks' big offseason acquisition was center Tyson Chandler, who will help them immensely on defense in the post.
If the Celtics can stay healthy this season, they have a good shot of winning the Atlantic Division title once again. However, if injuries pop up (as they likely will), the Knicks will likely take the reigns in the division.
Players To Watch: With Pierce likely out, the Celtics will look to Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett for offense. Rajon Rondo will need to be on top of his game, and any offense from him will be a bonus. Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire will lead the Knicks on offense, as usual. Keep an eye on how Tyson Chandler, playing his first game in New York, fits in.
Prediction: If Paul Pierce plays in this game and is healthy, I'd give the advantage to Boston. Unfortunately, it looks like The Truth won't be available for the opener, and the Knicks hold the upper hand in that scenario. Final Score: Knicks 88, Celtics 83.
Who's ready for some NBA basketball? Fans will receive the gift they really wanted for Christmas, the return of the NBA, with a star-studded slate of games on Christmas Day to open up the 2011-12 lockout-shortened 66-game season.
Of course, the very first game is the best one - the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. OK, maybe it's not the best, but it's a good one. Anytime you get teams from Boston and New York together, fans are generally in for a good game.
The Knicks, led by Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, are looking to improve upon their 42-40 record from one season ago in their first full season with Anthony. New York also brought in Tyson Chandler to help plug up the middle and also signed Baron Davis, who will miss some time at the start of the season with an injury.
Boston is looking to make one last run at banner No. 18 with the current Big Four of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. The C's lost Glen Davis, Delonte West, Shaquille O'Neal and Troy Murphy, among others, this offseason but brought in Brandon Bass in a trade with the Orlando Magic for Davis and also added Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic and Greg Stiemsma via free agency.
Pierce's status for Sunday's game is still unknown, but head coach Doc Rivers said he is "doubtful" that Pierce will play in the game. Pavlovic, who the team signed towards the end of last season, would likely start in his place, leaving Daniels to back him up off the bench.
Who's it going to be? Celtics or Knicks? We'll find out in a matter of hours.
Mickael Pietrus will not play in the Boston Celtics' season opener on Christmas Day against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Pietrus signed with the Celtics on Saturday night after being waived by the Phoenix Suns.
Pietrus is schedule to undergo a physical on Monday, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, and will be able to join the team as early as Tuesday when the Celtics take on the reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in Florida.
Last season, Pietrus averaged 7.4 points and 2.0 rebounds after being traded from the Orlando Magic to the Suns earlier in the season. Pietrus, who averages 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in his career, played in Orlando from 2008 through 2011 and began his career with the Golden State Warriors in the 2003-04 season. His best season came in 2006-07, when Pietrus averaged 11.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 72 games.
Feb 07, 1982
Finally, basketball is back. Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics take on the New York Knicks in the regular season opener on at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden in New York City (TV/Radio: TNT/WEEI).
Paul Pierce is doubtful for the Boston Celtics' season opener against the New York Knicks on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden. Pierce missed the majority of training camp and continues to recover from a bruised right heel.
Paul Pierce has been the cornerstone of the Boston Celtics for the past decade, and they wouldn't be where they are now without him. Yet the recent heel injury to The Truth has his status for the Celtics' season opener in jeopardy.
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