Flagrant Elbow Earns JR Smith Suspension for Game 4 Against Celtics

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The NBA announced late last night that JR Smith will serve a one game suspension for his flagrant 2 elbow on Jason Terry during the fourth quarter of game 3 against the Celtics Friday night.

The play came when Terry attempted a hard swipe of the ball on the perimeter, resulting in Smith swinging an elbow that first landed on Terry’s chest and then face. Terry had to be restrained by teammates and officials. Smith was ejected after the play was reviewed.

The Knicks went on to win the game 90-76 and take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Smith has been averaging 16 points thus far in the playoffs and is the Knicks second leading scorer.

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This decision is just another reminder to the Knicks that as one of the premier teams in the league, they’ll be extra scrutiny on everything they do. Much like Kevin Durant got a BS fine for simply doing a throat slash, the Knicks have been victim of overreactive disciplinary actions from the NBA front office. Melo got one earlier in the season for attempting to confront Kevin Garnett after the game despite no punches or up-close confrontation happening. Hell, KG choked a Knicks players after a game in the 2011 and there wasn’t a peep from the NBA about a suspension.

In a way, I’m glad JR learned how important he is to the team and not to risk his contributions on silly retaliatory shots. Nonetheless, I still want the sweep today so someone else needs to step up and bury the boys in the green. I’m looking at you, Chris Copeland.

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Baking Beans in Boston – Knicks Smash Celtics, Take 3-0 Series Lead

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It was a beautiful game last night for Knicks fans as our squad broke the spirit of the Celtics with a commanding 90-76 victory. The narrative coming into the contest was how the Knicks would deal with the emotional energy of a Boston team looking to inspire their city after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. Knicks fans will recall we had our own emotional lift to start the season when we blew out the Heat in the season opener on the heels of Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately for Boston, they were facing a team that had them beat in talent and focus.

 

TAKEN OUT EARLY, BLAME PRIGIONI: The Boston fans wanted something to cheer for, but the Knicks would have none of it. Pablo Prigioni set the tone with two quick treys. Neither side shot well particularly well in the opening quarter (each squad below 40%). However, you never got the feeling this game would be competitive. Raymond Felton was penetrating at will and kicking out for open shots, one of which being a JR Smith triple. The Celtics got open looks but were shrinking away from meeting the challenge by blowing layups. And even with Melo struggling with his shot going 2-7, the Knicks still lead 23-18 going into the second.

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OFF TO THE RACES: You know the most impressive thing about the 2nd quarter? For me, it was the fact the Knicks built the lead with Steve Novak in the lineup. Seriously, Novak had been woeful on offense and defense during this series. Last night, he moved well and wasn’t a liability. The Knicks defense as a whole completely stifled the Celtics guards — passing lanes were clogged up and their offense completely imploded. A JR Smith three-pointer brought the lead to double digits (34-23), and there it remained for the rest of the game.

Melo (26 points), dubbed the “ball hog” by the Celtics media pundits, promptly re-entered the game and drained three straight long jumpers and an alley-oop courtesy of Jason Kidd to push the lead to 47-31 at halftime.

Where was Paul Pierce, you ask? The Celtics main scorer was held to just 4 points on 2-10 shooting. In addition, he was forced into 3 turnovers, mostly courtesy of some stifling defense from Iman Shumpert, who ended up with 3 steals and 8 rebounds for the game.

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MORE DOMINATION: Outside of a quick 7-0 Celtics run to the start the third, the Knicks were never seriously challenged in the second half. Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics couldn’t protect the ball (17 turnovers). Melo continued nailing jumpers, and Felton blew past his defenders throughout the game to the tune of 15 points and 10 assists. The Knicks held a 68-52 lead after the third, and the fourth was decided early on when Novak hit his first three of the series to push the lead to 73-54. After that, the game was basically extended garbage time for 7-8 minutes.

 

THE ONE BLEMISH: JR Smith had a solid game (15 points, 4 rebounds), but committed a costly reckless moment when he responded to a hard swipe from Jason Terry by elbowing him in the face. Terry sold it a bit, but it was enough to get JR tossed early in the fourth. To his credit, Smith walked away immediately, got a stern talking to from Coach Woodson, and headed right to the back. It looks like a suspension isn’t coming, so the Knicks dodged a bullet.

It JR’s defense though , Jason Terry has a face that’s begging for a good elbow.

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CHANDLER WORKING HIS WAY BACK: Tyson Chandler’s recent bulging disc injury at has made his contributions this post-season very sporadic. Last night’s game was promising in Chandler showing some good rolls to the basket for dunks like the Tyson we all know. His numbers don’t jump out at you (6 points, 8 rebounds), but watch out when he truly gets back to form.

I have a good feeling Sunday will be the last we see of the Celtics this season.

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Another 2nd Half Shutdown: Knicks Rally Behind Defense, Beat Celtics In Game 2

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23! No, I’m not talking about the iconic number of one of game’s greatest players. 23 indicates the new record for offensive futility that the Boston Celtics set last night in the second half while under pressure from the Knicks defense. The Celtics could only put up 23 points (11 and 12 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively) when faced with the likes of Kenyon Martin in the lane, resulting in a decisive 87-71 Knicks victory.

We’re still waiting on that complete 48-minute game when it comes to defense, but the Knicks put the clamps down when it mattered and reminded the Celtics this isn’t the team they swept back in 2011.

 

TRIGGER-HAPPY REFS IN 1ST QUARTER: For whatever reason, the referees decided to call the first quarter like they were afraid a fight was going to break out. BS fouls were being called on both teams, resulting in Iman Shumpert, Kevin Garnett and Tyson Chandler having to take quick seats. Offensively, the Knicks didn’t truly get going until newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year JR Smith came in. Swish went 4-4 for nine points in just 8 minutes with the last two being his patented stepback outside jumper and a breathtaking buzzer-beating three-pointer from 36 feet to give New York a 26-20 lead.

SLEEPWALKING THROUGH THE SECOND: The Knicks had a putrid second quarter all-around. Steve Novak and Chris Copeland continued their invisible play. Jason Terry found his stroke from downtown (3-3) that helped spark a 11-0 Boston run to take a 31-27 lead. At one point, Boston lead by as much as 10 as the Knicks offense degraded into predictable Melo isos. The Knicks couldn’t protect the ball either as the Celtics got 16 points off turnovers and outscored the Knicks 28-16 to hold a 48-42 halftime lead.

The only positive from this quarter was Garnett getting hit with his third foul.

 

BACK TO REALITY: The Celtics shot 57% over the first half and we know that wasn’t going to continue. Iman Shumpert hit back to back treys that erased the Celtics lead, and from there it was all Knicks. Melo rebounded from a slow first half (3/11 shooting) and lit up Boston for 13 points in the third and 34 points overall. Whenever the Celtics tried to make a run in the fourth, a few quick Melo jumpers kept them from getting closer than nine.

With Melo and Smith guaranteed to get theirs every night, the Knicks always have a need for a third guy to step up on offense. Last night it was Raymond Felton (16 points, 7 rebounds), who pushed the pace and ran the Celtics ragged with his drives into the lane.

The interior defense from Tyson Chandler, who had a huge block on Avery Bradley, and Kenyon Martin, who had four big blocks in the second half, kept the Celtics a jump-shooting team. K-Mart in particular was huge with 11 rebounds (3 offensive) and keeping Garnett (4-9, 12 points) working hard to get post position. His defense was also the main catalyst for Jeff Green not being able to get anything going to the basket.

The Knicks will need to be even better on Friday when they head into Boston for what will no doubt be a highly emotional game. Let’s pay back that 2011 series with a sweep of our own.