– by Megan Rilkoff
NBA Playoffs 2012 are underway as of Saturday night and with 8 games in 2 days, they have been everything any basketball fan loves about the playoffs: intense rivalries, game-winning shots in the final seconds, and heated play. Highlights (or lowlights) include: Both Game 1 of the Clippers/Grizzlies and Thunder/Mavericks ended at 99-98, anticipating two great series in the West. The Heat killed the Knicks in the first game in Miami 100-67, with Lebron James outscoring New York’s entire starting lineup. The Bulls lost their star Derek Rose to a torn ACL in the final minute of their first game against the Philadelphia 76ers – changing the face of the East series for all contending teams.
For the Boston Celtics, the number 4 seed in the East, the first game did not start as expected. The Hawks hosted a lackluster, flat-footed Celtics on Sunday, coming out to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter. Ray Allen was out again with an ankle injury and looked frustrated and dejected on the bench. Kevin Garnett started out slow, missing his first six shots but ended the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds. That turnaround really shows the entire Celtics’s rally of the second half who eventually had the game within 4 points in the 4th quarter after trailing by 19 in the first half.
Even outscoring the Hawks in the second half wasn’t enough to dig out of the hole of the 1st quarter. The game really ended with 41 seconds left in the game when Rajon Rondo chest-bumped an official after contesting a foul called against Brandon Bass; Rondo received a technical and then an ejection. Post-game, KG, Doc, and Rondo all claimed they would be surprised if Rondo was suspended for Game 2 and agreed that the chest-bump was unintentional. Unfortunately, as of today, Rondo was suspended for Game 2 in Atlanta on Tuesday, May 1. This is Rondo’s second suspension in three months, his first occuring in February after throwing a ball at a referee’s chest. (See: Love That Dirty Water: Still Bleeding Green)
How will the Celtics adjust with both Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo on the bench? Chris Forsberg – writer for ESPN Boston – speculates that Avery Bradley will probably start at starting point guard with Mikael Pietrus possibly moving into the starting lineup as well. Paul Pierce will most likely step up to fill Rondo’s shoes, creating plays and putting up double digit assists, but it will definitely take the performance and hustle of the whole team to make up for Rondo and Allen’s absence. Doc asserts again that Allen will not play unless he is ready, regardless of Rondo’s suspension for Game 2.
In typical playoff fashion, it only takes one game to make the series a lot more interesting. The Celtics are a team known to play well in a grind and step up to a challenge, and hopefully they will be able to find a silver lining in this set back.