“High Above Courtside: Celtics vs Knicks, 02/28/07”
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 1, 2007
“Cousy” Newsday photo files
Got there 55 minutes before tip-off. Settle into the first row balcony, season ticket seats we share with a few others. First row means no one walking in front of you; they’d have to be really, really tall to obstruct this view. Balcony also means three steps to the Molson Canadian booth. Timeliness meant we were among the first 5,000 which, in turn, meant we were recipients of a DJ “3” lapel pin.
Two players on the court working out. Stephon Marbury on one end getting feed after feed for “catch, one-dribble right jumper; catch one-dribble left jumper”. A bunch of those and he’d move to the next spot. Ten or so and another spot. Etc. On the other end, Sebastian Telfair, Marbury’s first cousin, played a simple, easy, goof-around game of one-on-one (always on offense) against two of the Celtics’ trainers. Shooting contested jumpers from 20+. My wife, Ellen, noted he wasn’t making many. Marbury and Telfair are, of course, not just related, they’re members of the same royal family, that long line of storied NYC high school phenom point guards. Tonight, Telfair never got into the game.
Celts started out eager, attentive, built a 22 or point lead first half. Knicks erased that and more in the third and fourth quarters, waking up the crowd and, eventually the Celts. Celtics put it away when Pierce hit a jumper with Marbury lodged between his upper lip and gums, 102-94.
1) the Knicks, seriousy depleted because of injuries to key players (Jamal Crawford, David Lee) played hard (the 2nd half) and, impressively, displayed a willingness to move the ball, share the ball, to the point where you’d have to say it’s a strength of theirs. Whether you have forgiven Isiah Thomas for “saying that if Larry Bird were black he’d be just ‘another good guy’ instead of being hyped as the league’s best player” or not, you’ve got to give him credit for putting a team on the floor that is giving the appearance of functioning as a unit. I don’t know if they can make the playoffs with Crawford out, but they clearly have gotten better as the year has gone along;
2) Gerald Green not only is good on the break running the wing but also is good pushing it up himself after rebounding. He got the Celts two great opportunities by doing nothing but pushing it hard upcourt;
3) Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, the legendary hoops’ scribe, never once looks out at the “entertainment” on the court during time-outs, between periods, etc. I’m hoping he hates it all as much as I do;
4) there must have been seven traveling calls;
5) Similar to Kobe, Lebron, Wade and McGrady, Stephon Marbury can get a good look at a good shot any time he wants. He just doesn’t finish as often as those others;
6) If Rajon Rondo ever develops a jumper, he could be a top ten point guard in the league: great in the running game, comes up with loose balls and rebounds, gets into the lane and dishes. I do wonder whether he has staying power, the mental discpline needed to get on the long-term improvement arc that most great players in this league follow;
7) Al Jefferson made a believer out of me last night. We’ve all seen the McHale-ian moves, the numbers he’s been putting up. But, last night and more recently, he’s been looking like someone who is learning how to play with Pierce and someone who is no longer struggling under the weight of expectation: “can’t miss”, “future all-star”, all that. Now ready to be an awesome four-man. Great to see.