Standing on a crowded E train headed to 34th Street Penn Station,then walking through busy New York streets, I get chill bumps and it has nothing to with the relatively cold mid-March weather. As much fun as it was hanging out in the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers press rooms, this is the Garden. Decades of history in the one building. You name a sporting event and it has likely been held here. Rivalries were forged here, some were sheer wars (hello mid-nineties Miami Heat), there is an aura surrounding this building, as I've said it is indescribable. You literally have to walk through the corridors and see images of past greats, any basketball junkie would understand what I'm on about.
It's a thrill everytime I walk into the arena, it would be my second home if possible. The fact that the Boston Celtics are in town makes the experience more enjoyable. Last time I went to a Celtics game it was in 2008, the Big Three's first season together. The game was in Miami and the Heat were in the middle of a horrendous 15-67 season. Garnett and Ray Allen missed that game and Paul Pierce played only the first half because the game was well in hand by then. Tonight is my opportunity to see them all play for the first time.
I've just been handed a press release stating Doc Rivers will be available to the media at 6:30pm, I'll wait until after the game. It's much more fun that way isn't it? Missing from the Celtics are Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Von Wafer. Knicks are fully healthy but of more concern is their recent slide. Just 4-6 in the last 10 and losers of their past two to Detroit and Milwaukee, they need to come out and show why they deserve to be in the playoffs. Celtics at Knicks, live game blog coming in just under an hour.
The New York Knicks come out to Jay-Z's ubiquitous 'Empire State Of Mind'. That song has really captured the city and has become it's theme song. So much so that it may be overplayed, and I'm a Jay Z fan too. The roar in the Garden is electric.Obligatory boos for the Celtics. This should be a good game. The 7 year old girl who just sang the national anthem was unbelievable. Great voice, crowd give her the due applause.
New York Knicks introductions. Jay -Z's Run This Town. Umm, doesn't Jay own the Nets?
– Spike Lee is sitting next to Ray Allen's mum. Wonder what that conversation will be like? Speaking of Lee, why does he continue to wear ridiculously oversized jersey’s with track pants and that Davey Crockett hat in Knick colors? Isn’t he like 50 years old by now?
– DJ Clue is DJ’ing here tonight. Mr Desert Storm himself
– Knicks are wearing their blue uniforms. Celtics have their home whites. This is ridiculous. Road team should be wearing the dark colors.
– After 2 misses each by both teams, Carmelo opens the scoring with a hard drive to the basket. Follows it up with a 3. He will surpass the 6 point total of the other night here.
– Carmelo exits the game with two fouls, 7:07 left. Also has 7 points.
– Enthusiastic "Paul Pierce sucks" chant by the crowd while Pierce is at the line.
– Rondo has been quiet thus far for Boston. He needs to break out of his recent slump. A game against New York should be the perfect remedy. Has only one rebound so far though. Needs to be more assertive.
– Timeout 5:57 left in the first. Knicks lead 14-12
– Celebs in the crowd include Spike Lee of course and Kevin Bacon with Kyra Sedgwick. Also Donald Trump
– On the ensuing two next plays Rondo drives to the basket strong. Scores both.
– Knicks look so much more different when Chauncey is on the floor. In one word, composed. He really changes the dynamic for them.
– Celtics trail Knicks 22-25 after 1
– Carmelo Anthony hits a tough J over Jeff Green as Green scrambled to stay with the crafty Knick
– Troy Murphy is in the game. Wearing black socks with white uniform and shoes. Big no no Troy.
– – Interesting to see how the new additions to Boston’s roster match up with Knicks Stoudemire and Turiaf. New York have the physical advantage but Murphy and even Kristic can extend the D to the well outside the paint.
– – Big Baby should be given an Oscar for the flopping job he just did when Carmelo turned his elbow into him. Lay on the ground writhing until Boston called a timeout. 8:32 left in the second. Celtics trail by 8. 30-22.
– – Big Baby was just blocked y Turiaf at one end who then ran the floor and received the ball back from Billups for a dunk. Great energy by Turiaf. Has 6 points so far.
– – Celtics look flat on D. Melo just blew past Ray Allen for a dunk. Crowd goes wild.
– Block by Turiaf down the Celtics end leads to a Jeffries three. Timeout Boston. Knicks have the momentum. Lead 37-25
– Gee Carmelo scores so easily.
– Nice pick and roll play with Rondo and Garnett who gets fouled.
– Boston have only scored 6 points with over half the quarter gone.
– Knicks getting it done on both ends of the floor. Good D and efficient shooting on the offensive end. Knicks shooting 52%, Celtics just 35%
– Former Knick great Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe is in the crowd. Gets a nice reception. Spike Lee even stood up and applauded.
– Although you need to give the Celtic bigs time, it is hard not to notice the absence of Kendrick Perkins. Knick guards have penetrated with immunity many occasions.
– Halftime Knicks put on a great display. Lead 51-37
– Billups finds Turiaf in the lane for an and one. Ray Allen is upset with Nenad Kristic for leaving him stranded and rotating over. Where is Kendrick Perkins when you need him?
– Knicks are grabbing up all the offensive boards as well. Doc Rivers can’t be happy about that either.
– Boston on a 10-3 run in the first 5 minutes of third. Cut the lead to 7.
– Pierce gets his fourth foul. Draws a thunderous applause from the crowd.
– Knicks D is forcing bad Boston shots. I know right? Sounds ridiculous. But true.
– Landry Fields leads Knicks fast break and scores a layup. Spike Lee is up out of his seat. Doc Rivers calls time. Lead back to 9. 64-55
– Knicks can’t miss from three. Shooting 67%. Little used Roger Mason Jr hits a big corner three,
– A clear path foul by the Knicks on the Celtics give Boston two shots and the ball. Delonte West misses the first, makes the second and Big Baby gets a layup at the buzzer to give the Celts life heading into the final stanza.
– 3 Quarter time Knicks lead 69-63
– 2 minutes into the final quarter and Boston have outscored New York 6-2 to close the margin to two on a Jeff Green dunk. Timeout Mike D’Antoni
– Billups out of the timeout hits a massive three. What did I say about composure before?
– 7-0 run by Knicks forces Boston to call time
– Ray Allen goes to ground but is called for the foul. He and Stoudemire have words. Momma Ray doesn’t look too happy on the sidelines.
– Another round of the “Paul Pierce sucks” chants have awoken Pierce. Two free throws and a transition three brings the Celtics back again. Can they sustain a run now? Everytime they’ve challenged the Knicks have responded.
– LL Cool J appears on the screen in a pre-shot piece telling the crowd to make some noise. Would have been gold if he licked his lips afterward.
– Pierce has seven point this quarter.
– Boston have taken the lead with 4:46 left. 84-82. Never count out a champion.
– It’s no coincidence that Boston have improved their game as Rajon Rondo has improved his. 8 rebounds and 4 points in the second half. Has come alive in the fourth. Keyed an important stretch for Celtics.
– Melo’s gone down with an injury at half court. After a lengthy spell on the floor Melo gets back up.
– On next play down Melo exits the game. The Truth hits a clutch three that gives the Celtics a 6 point buffer. Looks at Knick bench down the floor. That's game over.
– Celtics win 96-86
Sorry for the delay in getting this to you guys but the WiFi in Madison Square Garden is absolutely disgusting. Sorry, non-existant. That's why this became a recap instead of a live blog. Interesting to note that in the press conference after the game Mike D'Antoni remained upbeat despite this being the Knicks third loss in a row. He reiterated that the new lineup needs time to jell, echoing the words of Carmelo Anthony this morning.
The journey continues on Wednesday night as Orlando head into the Garden. It won't be a live blog thanks to The Garden's WiFi but we will bring a recap of the nights events.