at Boston Celtics (3-0) at New York Knicks (0-3)
Sunday, April 24
3:30 PM ET
Playoff Game #1 Road Game #2
Radio: WEEI, ESPNR
Madison Square Garden Probable Starters Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Toney DouglasShooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Landry Fields Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Shawne Williams
Jermaine O'Neal vs Ronny TuriafBoston Bench Mob
Von Wafer Injured
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles, calf, age) outKnicks Bench
Roger Mason Jr
Amar'e Stoudemire (back) questionable
Chauncey Billups (knee) questionable Game Notes
The Celtics face yet another closeout game in the playoffs. In the Big Three era, the Celtics are 8-11 in games where they have the opportunity to close out the series. More disturbingly, they are just 1-9 on the road in these games.
In two different series their failure to close the series has come back to bite them. In 2009, they failed to close out the series vs Orlando in game 6 and the Magic came into the Garden and won the series in game 7. Last season, they had 2 chances to close out the Lakers in both games 5 and 6 and lost the title in game 7 after Perk went down with the knee injury.
There is a silver lining to these stats and that is the fact that the Celtics are now up 3-0 in the series and in 94 tries, no team has ever come back from being down 3-0 to win a 7 game series. Three teams, however, have come back to tie the series at 3-3 before losing in a game 7. It would be great if the Celtics would take care of business in this game and we wouldn't have to worry about any of that.
The Celtics have already ruled Shaq out for this game, and wisely so. Amar'e said that his back was worse after playing in game 3 and if it was still sore he wouldn't play in this game. Chauncey hasn't ruled out playing but said it was very doubtful. Both are listed as questionable. With the Celtics a year older and the competition stiff, the Celtics need to try to win in as few games as possible so a sweep here would be nice.
The Celtics should expect the Knicks to come out and play with desperation. Their pride is on the line in front of their home crowd and we probably won't see another dispirited attempt on their part in this one. The Celtics were clicking on all cylinders except one in game 3 and if the bench can finally get it together, the Celtics should win this one regardless of the Knicks' effort. Key Matchups
Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony
Pierce has called Melo his toughest matchup in the league. Anthony had a 42 point outburst in game 2, but Pierce wasable to limit his production in games 1 and 3. In game 3, Pierce also kept him busy on defense as he hit for 38 points, shooting 14-19 from the field. It would be nice to have another big game on the offensive end from Pierce, but more importantly, he needs to once again keep Melo from having a big game.
Rajon Rondo vs Toney Douglas
Rondo has been playing very well for the Celtics in the series so far, with his best game in Game 3 when he had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists. As has been said many times this season and in the playoffs, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. Chauncey Billups is once again considered doubtful for this game and chances are that if he plays, he won't be 100%. Rondo has an advantage at this position and needs to take advantage of it. Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Landry Fields
Ray found his shooting touch in game 3 and was able to get open shot to put up 32 points on 11-18 shooting. Ray has a mismatch at this position and hopefully he will be on fire in this game also. Fields has apparently hit the rookie wall to the point that Knicks fans want him out of there. Hopefully he continues to struggle in this game.
to the Game REBOUND!!!
- It's no coincidence that when the Celtics out-rebounded the Knicks 43-33 in game 3, they got a big win. When the Celtics put out the effort on the boards, it translates to all other areas of the game. Rebounding is very important to getting the win and the Celtics have to continue to crash the boards in this game to keep the Knicks from getting second chance and fast break points. Bench Play
- The Celtics bench players have been terrible so far in this series. They have gotten out played by the Knicks reserves in all 3 games so far. The Celtics have got to get more out of their bench. Big Baby is averaging 3.3 PPG and 5.0 RPG. Jeff Green is averaging 6.3 PPG and 2.3 RPG. Delonte is averaging 2.0 PPG and 1.3 APG. Krstic is averaging 0.0 PPG and 1.0 RPG. The starters have had to play too many minutes to avoid a total collapse every time the reserves come in. They must get it together and give the team more off the bench if the Celtics expect to win this series and Banner 18.
- The Celtics finally moved the ball and made the extra pass throughout game 3 and it resulted in a blow out win. It is so important for them to continue to move without the ball, make the extra pass and find the open man. Unselfish play results in good things as we saw in game 3. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to be the team that dives for loose balls, crashes the boards, hustles for the 50-50 balls and drives to the basket to draw the foul. They also must be aggressive on the defensive end, denying passes and preventing easy baskets. Defense
- Last, but certainly not least, the Celtics must make defense a priority. It's still true that defense wins championships and the Celtics must prevent the Knicks from getting easy baskets and open looks. The bench especially must pick up their defense especially if they continue to struggle on the offensive end. X-Factor
Injuries and Officials
If Stoudemire and Billups can't go in this game, it makes it easier and harder for the Celtics. The Celtics will have easier matchups and the Knicks will definitely be weaker, but we all have seen the Celtics give a sub-par effort in games where the other team's stars were missing. If they are out, the Celtics still must play with the same intensity as if they were on the floor. So far, the officials haven't been too bad in this series, in spite of what the Knicks fans say. Hopefully this continues in this game. But you never know when Herr Stern will decide that this series needs to go longer and give the Knicks a hand.