"Execution in the fourth quarter was the difference in yesterday's Game 1 matchup between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics. What you will read here is a different kind of summary. I will take you through the fourth quarter of the game possession by possession. The data for this summary is not recorded from watching film. The data is recorded via a shorthand technique which records every pass, dribble, shot, rebound, foul - mostly everything that happens with the ball. This shorthand produces a score sheet which is essentially a play-by-play transcript of the game. It is extremely time consuming, but as a dedicated basketball coach and student of the game it has taught me critical thinking skills that allow me to analyze the ebb and flow of any game at any level, and more importantly which players are producing at the most important moments of the game. You will not be reading the shorthand, but rather its translation into terms everyone can understand.
As you go through this summary you should know there were 96 possessions in the first half and 98 possessions in the second half - for a total of 194 possessions in the entire game. I would bet that the average basketball fan would not know there are this many possessions in a game. In the fourth quarter there were 47 total possessions. The Celtics had 25 possessions and the Knicks had 22. When a team grabs an offensive rebound or when the ball is knocked out of bounds it is recorded that a new possession begins. The Celtics +3 margin in possessions will become evident when you see their pursuit of offensive rebounds and the Knicks continuous failure to complete the defensive possession with a block out and rebound. We start at #50 which is the fiftieth play of the second half, THE FIRST PLAY OF THE FOURTH QUARTER.
Here's how to read the transcript, Play # of the second half), the team who has possession (BOS for Celtics or NY for Knicks), the result of the possession, the in parenthesis () the player involved in the action, and lastly the score at the end of the possession.
Play #) TEAM - Result of Possession (Player(s) involved) - SCORE AT END OF POSSESSION
50) BOS - Miss 2pt FG (West) - 59
51) NY - Miss 2pt FG *High Post (Amare) - 64
The fourth begins with the Celtics and the Knicks both missing jump shots.
52) BOS - 3pt FG (Allen) **Double Screen - Corner 3) - 62
53) NY - Miss 3pt FG (Douglas) - 64
54) NY - Offense Rebound (Jeffries) Turnover (Walker - traveling) - 64
55) BOS - Miss 3pt FG (Allen) Knocked OB NY ball - 62
56) NY - Draws foul 0/2 FT (Amare) - 64
Breakdown #52 - #56
On their second possession of the quarter the Celtics run a double screen play for Ray Allen to bring him to the right corner, he knocks it down to bring Boston within 2. Douglas misses a three for the Knicks, Jeffries hustles after an offensive rebound, Walker turns it over by traveling. With the exception of Jared Jeffries, the Knicks' substitutes played poorly all night. Jeffries came into the game and played his role. He grabbed rebounds, particularly offensive boards, he set screens, and he played solid defense. On the next possession it's obvious the Celtics are trying to get Ray Allen going, he misses. Knicks get the ball to Amare, he draws a foul, he misses two free throws and this will obviously be critical at the end of the game (Knicks lose by two points). Amare scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and played great, but this is the fourth quarter of Game 1 in Boston, he has to put these two in the bucket in order to win the game.
57) BOS - 2pt FG (West) - 64 *Tie Game*
58) NY - Miss 3pt FG (Carter) - 64
59) BOS - Assist for 2pt FG (West to Green) - 66
Time Out NY 9:04 **Boston's First lead since early 2nd Quarter
Breakdown #57 - #59
Here is an example of role players coming in as substitutes and producing while some starters get important rest at the beginning of the fourth quarter and substitutes who contribute nothing. Delonte West hits a jumper, Anthony Carter misses a 3pt shot, West finds Jeff Green for a jumper. Celtics take the lead. Boston's first lead since early in the second quarter. Knicks call time.
60) NY - 2pt FG *High Post (Amare) - 66
61) BOS - Miss 2pt FG (Green) - 66
62) BOS - Offense Rebound (Rondo) Made 2pt FG (Allen) - 68
63) NY - Double Down on Melo in Post, Miss Wide Open 3pt FG (Billups) - 66
64) NY - Offense Rebound Layup (Amare) - 68
65) BOS - Turnover Illegal Screen (West) - 68
66) NY - Turnover (Amare) - 68
67) BOS - Miss 2pt FG (Baby) - 68
68) NY - Assist for Dunk (Melo off Jeffries High screen to Amare) - 70
69) BOS - Assist for Layup (Baby to KG *all started by Rondo penetration) - 70
70) NY - 2pt FG *High Post (Amare) - 72 **On this play Melo screens for Amare to bring him out of right corner to top of key - Remember this play**
71) BOS - Draws a foul shooting 3 pt (Pierce gets Melo off his feet) 3/3 FT (Pierce) - 73
Breakdown #60 - #71
The next 11 possessions of the game are great fourth quarter playoff action. Out of the time out the Knicks find Amare at the high post just off center, he couldn't be stopped from here all night. It would be safe to say that the Celtics' offensive rebounds were the #1 reason for the Knicks losing the game, Rondo grabs the offensive board and finds Allen for 2, Celtics take back the lead. Chauncey Billups did not have his best game last night, but even with his sub-par play the Knicks are a better team with him. He misses a 3pt shot as Melo kicks after drawing the double team. Amare is there with a big offensive rebound and put back to even the score at 68. The Knicks "get" a call as West is called for an illegal screen out of bounds trying to free up Ray Allen, who the Celtics have made a point to get Ray the ball in the fourth. Amare turns it over, Baby misses a shot, Knicks get moving in transition - which was rare this game, Jeffries sets a good, solid screen to get defense out of position, Melo draws two Amare is open for the dunk. Celtics come right back and tie the game at 70. Knicks run a play, Melo screens for Amare out of corner he catches and scores at the high post. Next play, Paul Pierce gets Melo off his feet and draws a foul while shooting a 3pt shot. It is not a "hometown" call. It was a foul. Pierce hits all three to take one point lead.
72) NY - Layup (Turiaf) - 74
73) BOS - Miss FG from Low Post (KG) - 73
74) NY - Draws Foul 1/2 FT (Melo) - 75
75) BOS - Miss 2pt FG (ROndo) - 73
76) BOS - Offense Rebound (Allen) Draws non -shoot foul (4:46 left in game) - 73
77) BOS - 2pt FG Pull Up (Pierce off O'Neal High Screen) - 75
Breakdown #72 - #77
Knicks get good ball movement and find Turiaf for a layup. KG misses, Knicks get into transition again, Melo misses one of his free throws, another critical missed free throw which will come back to hurt the Knicks. Knicks play good D and get Rondo to miss, but another offensive rebound from a guard, and Celtics capitalize on the 2nd chance, Pierce ties the game with just under 5 minutes left.
78) NY - Assist for 3pt FG (Melo to Billups) - 78
79) BOS - Foul (O'Neal) illegal down screen trying to setup Allen - 75
80) NY - Dribble Penetrate Reverse Layup (Amare) *Great Move* - 80
81) BOS - Assist for Layup (Rondo to Allen) + Foul (Douglas) 1/1 FT (Allen) - 78 *3:23 Left in Game*
82) NY - 3 passes Miss 3pt FG (Melo) - 80 *AMARE HAS TO GET THE BALL - BAD DECISION ON 3pt SHOT*
83) BOS - Turnover (Bad Pass Rondo to Pierce) - 78
84) NY - Attack Rim Dunk (Amare) - 82
Breakdown #78 - #84
Knicks gain momentum, Melo finds Billups for three, Celtics turn it over, Amare makes an awesome move as he attacks rim from high post. Celtics grab the momentum right back, they go from down 5pts to down 2pts as Rondo hits Allen on a backdoor cut for AND 1, Allen makes his free throw. There just over 3 minutes left in the game. Melo misses a 3pt shot ( I felt it last night, and I still feel it today, Melo made a bad decision). Knicks get it right back on the Rondo to Pierce turnover, Amare attacks the rim and slams it on two Celtics - Knicks take 4 pt lead.
85) BOS - Blocked shot (Turiaf on Allen) - 78
Breakdown #85 -Remember this play #85: Rondo dribbles over Half Court, Ray Allen sets a high screen at 3 pt line just off center. Rondo comes off screen looking to make a play, KG sets back screen for Allen, Allen takes a shot but Turiaf makes a great play and blocks Allen.
86) NY - Offensive Foul Turnover (O'Neal takes charge on Amare) - 82
TImeout Boston 2:28 left in game
87) BOS - 2pt FG off high screen (Pierce off KG) - 80
88) NY - Turnover (Melo) - 82
89) BOS - Miss 2pt FG off high screen (Pierce off KG) - 80
90) BOS - Offense Rebound Put Back (O'Neal) - 82
91) NY - Partial Blocked Layup (O'NEAL on Billups) Offense Rebound (Turiaf) Miss 3pt (Melo) - 82
92) BOS - Bad pass Turnover (Rondo) - 82
Official's Time - Billups Injury - 50.7 secs
Breakdown #86 - #92
Over the next four plays Jermaine O'Neal plays great. He takes a legitimate charge on Amare who had been attacking the rim and scoring. Pierce scores on next possession, followed by a Melo turnover. Pierce misses a pull up jumper, O'Neal grabs the offensive rebound and puts it back in to tie the game. OFFENSIVE BOARDS KILLED THE KNICKS LAST NIGHT! O'Neal hustles and interferes with Billups' layup, Turiaf rebounds finds Melo at top for 3pt shot, he doesn't connect. Rondo carelessly gives it right back to the Knicks. Billups limps off the floor, the Knicks need him to play, hopefully he's back for Game 2.
93) NY - 3pt FG (Douglas) - 85
Out of time out NY runs same play they've ran the whole second half to get Amare the ball at the high post to face up and go to work (See play #70). KG denies the ball hard, the type of denial only someone as selfless as KG could put on a guy. With nothing better to do and Rondo playing off him, Douglas puts up the 3pt FG and hits. Broken play, Knicks got lucky.
TIME OUT BOSTON 37.8 secs ***Boston has two 20 sec timeouts left and New York has one full**
94) BOS - From side out of bounds Rondo to KG Dunk Alley oop. - 84
95) NY - Melo called for offensive foul trying to post up. Pierce, good acting. - 85
Timeout Boston 21 secs. ****Knicks still up one point*** 85 - 84
96) BOS - Can't get it in
Time out Boston 21 secs.
96) BOS - Kickball (Allen becomes inbounder replacing Rondo)
THIS KICKBALL IS SUCH A HUGE PLAY AS THE CELTICS DECIDE TO SWITCH ALLEN AND RONDO AND RUN A NEW SET PLAY FROM THE SIDE OUT OF BOUNDS!
BOS - Assist for 3 pt FG (Pierce to Allen) - 87
Allen inbounds to Pierce and then immediately sets a high screen for Pierce. Pierce comes off Allen hard looking to make a play. KG sets back screen for Allen. Assist for 3pt FG Pierce to Allen (See play #85 above). Same play as #85, but two major differences: Pierce is coming off the screen instead of Rondo, and Pierce is coming off screen just right of the top of the key, his favorite shot to hit a game winner.
97) NY - Miss 3pt FG (Melo) - 85
End of Game
Boston Celtics 87
New York Knicks 85
Celtics Lead Series 1 - 0
Analysis of each fourth quarter possession shows that the Celtics were more efficient with their possessions than the Knicks. The Knicks will have to do a better job in the fourth quarter if they are going to have a chance to win Game 2."