at New York Knicks (25-14) at Boston Celtics (20-21)
Thursday, January 24, 2013
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #42 – Road Game #22
TV: TNT, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, ESPN NY
TD GardenProbable Starters
PG: #9 Rajon Rondo .................................................... SG: #0 Avery Bradley
C: #5 Kevin Garnett
SF: #34 Paul Pierce .............................................. PF #30 Brandon Bass Celtics Reserves
Chris Wilcox (thumb) day to dayD-League
Fab Melo Probable Starters
PG: Iman Shumpert ............................................ SG: Jason Kidd
C: Tyson Chandler
SF: Carmelo Anthony ............................................. PF:Chris CopelandKnicks Reserves
Kurt Thomas Injuries
Pablo Prigioni (toe) questionable
Raymond Felton (finger) out
Marcus Camby (fascia) out
Rasheed Wallace (foot) out Game Notes
The Knicks visit the Celtics for round 2 of 4 between these two division rivals. Whenever these two teams get together there is always a playoff atmosphere, even in the preseason. It seems that they are always on the verge of a brawl. Every game is hard fought, that is for certain.
There was no shortage of drama between them in their last meeting as KG inspired Carmelo Anthony to chase him into the locker room and then wait for him outside the Celtics' bus. Anthony has said that he is fine with KG and that he's only looking forward to the game. He blamed fasting for being so testy in that last meeting. Hopefully he has his pregame meal before this one, but don't count on KG not trying to get into his head again.
The Knicks lead the Atlantic Division with the Celtics in 3rd, 6 games back. The Knicks last won the division in 1993-94 but look to end the Celtics 5 year reign over the Atlantic this season. The Knicks are also looking to end an 11 game losing streak in Boston where they last won in 2006. They would also love to win the season series since they haven't won a series with the Celtics since 2003-04.
The Knicks are a good road team with an 11-8 record. The Celtics have played well at home as well, in spite of losing their last two games there. They are 13-8 at home this season. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games and the Knicks are just 4-6 in their last 10. The Knicks are looking to avoid losing their second straight, while the Celtics desperately would love to end their 4 game losing streak.
The Celtics can once again get back to .500 with a win in this game. Doc called the team out after the loss to Detroit but it didn't do any good as they lost to the 10 win Cavs in their next game. The Celtics have proved that they can beat the top teams and they have plenty of motivation to play well and win this game. The big question is whether they will come out focused and put out the effort needed to do so. Key Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs Carmelo Anthony
Yes, I know that KG is a power forward and Anthony is a small forward, but KG covered Melo for parts of the last game and took up residence in his head. Melo insists that it's all in the past and he has moved on and he has nothing against KG. I can't see KG being able to resist trying to get into Melo's delicate psyche again. The key will be whether Melo allows him to.
Rajon Rondo vs Iman Shumpert
Shumpert is back from his ACL injury and is a very good defender. He will do his best to make everything as difficult for Rondo as possible. The Celtics need Rondo to set the pace and to keep the offense moving.
Rondo tends to get up for the big games and the Celtics will need him in this one.
Avery Bradley vs Jason Kidd
Kidd is averaging just 8.3 points per game, but he has a way of hitting big shots against the Celtics. Avery was feeling a bit stung after Kyrie Iriving scored 40 on the Celtics in the last game and I expect him to come out fired up in this one. Keys to the Game
- The Celtics have to make defense their priority in this game especially because the Knicks can be a very dangerous offensive team. Whatever needs to be fixed for the Celtics to get back on track must begin on the defensive end. The Celtics must especially guard the perimeter as the Knicks are 4th in the league in 3 point percentage at 38.5% and they aren't shy about shooting them. But they also have to guard the paint because the Knicks have several players who can take it strong to the hoop as well.
- The Celtics are no longer last in the league in rebounding. The Heat have taken over that distinction. The Knicks aren't much better, coming in at 26th. The Celtics have got to crash the boards as a team and win the battle on the glass if they want to win this game. When they put out the effort on the boards, they usually play better all around. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be the more aggressive team, especially against the Knicks who are very aggressive themselves. They have to be aggressive in going to the hoop and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling, as they haven't been recently. They must be aggressive on the boards and in going after loose balls and winning the 50/50 plays. The more aggressive team gets the calls from the officials and that will be important in this game. We know that the Knicks will be aggressive and so the Celtics have to match that intensity. Focus
- The Celtics have got to come out focused and play as a team. They have been missing a lot of free throws lately and that's usually a sign of lack of focus. The Celtics have to stay focused throughout the game and not let up if they get a lead or fold if New York makes a run. Bench Play -
The Celtics need to get quality play from their reserves. Jeff Green, Sully, Jet, Courtney Lee all need to contribute on both ends of the court. It would be a good time for Green and Jet to find some consistency and play well on both ends of the court. X-Factors
Team Effort and Officiating
If the Celtics play as a team like they did in first game against the Knicks, they stand a good chance of winning this. If they play a disjointed game as they have in their last two games, it could get very ugly. In the Knicks games I've watched this season, they got a lot of help from the officials. Hopefully they call a fair game in this one. It's hard to win playing 5 on 8. Also, the refs may call this tight given the history between these two teams. The Celtics must adjust to that if they do.