at Boston Celtics (0-0) at New York Knicks (0-0)
Saturday, April 20, 2013
3:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #1 – Road Game #1
TV: ABC, CHCH-TV
Radio: WEEI, ESPN NY
Madison Square GardenProbable Starters
PG: #0 Avery Bradley .................................................... SG: #34 Paul Pierce
C: #5 Kevin Garnett
SF: #8 Jeff Green .............................................. PF #30 Brandon Bass Celtics Reserves
Fab Melo Injuries
Rajon Rondo (knee) out
Jared Sullinger (back) out Probable Starters
PG: Raymond Felton ............................................ SG: Iman Shumpert
C: Tyson Chandler
SF: Carmelo Anthony ............................................. PF: Chris CopelandKnicks Reserves
Kenyon Martin Injuries
Marcus Camby (foot) questionable
Pablo Prigioni (ankle) questionable
Amar'e Stoudemire (knee) outGame Notes
For the second time in three years, the Celtics and Knicks will meet in the first round of the playoffs. The only players who remain from their last meeting in the playoffs are Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green.
Both teams struggled with injuries toward the end of the season. Each team has an injured All-Star player Rajon Rondo and Amar’e Stoudemire) but both are mostly healthy now according to their coaches. Of most concern will be Tyson Chandler's bulging disc and KG's foot. Neither played down the stretch but both are saying that they are healthy and ready to go.
I've seen several different starting lineups given for the Knicks as with the injuries, they haven't had one set lineup recently. Their game notes list Felton, Prigioni, Melo, Shumpert, and Chandler but with Prigioni listed as questionable for the first game, I'm thinking they go with Shumpert at the 2 and Copeland at the 4 but that's just a guess on my part. If Prigioni can play I expect the lineup above to start.
There's no love lost between these two division rivals and this should be a physical series with more than a little confrontation between them. Key Matchups
Avery Bradley vs Raymond Felton
With Prigioni questionable with an ankle injury, I expect Felton to move to point guard. Bradley’s defensive contributions don’t show up in the box score, but his ball pressure is critical. It will be important for Bradley to keep Felton from getting into the offense quickly. Felton has been playing very well and appears rejuvenated this season. He is averaging 13.9 points per game and gives the Knicks another solid scoring option in the starting lineup.
Jeff Green vs Carmelo Anthony
Paul Pierce has said that the toughest matchup for him in the league is Carmelo Anthony. With Paul Pierce moving to the shooting guard in this big lineup, guarding Melo will mostly fall to Jeff Green. Slowing Melo down is key. Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass may also get their turn at guarding him. If the Celtics can disrupt Melo and make things hard for him, it makes the Celtics chances of winning much better. Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Tyson Chandler
This will be a defensive battle between two very good defensive centers. The key to this matchup may be who is healthier. Chandler missed the last part of the season with a bulging disc in his neck and KG is returning from a foot/ankle injury. The Celtics need a healthy KG in order to get a win.Keys to the Game Guard the 3 Point Line
- The Knicks made more 3 point shots than any team in history this season. The 3 point shot has become a very effective weapon for them and guarding the perimeter will be crucial to getting a win.
- The Knicks have been a good defensive team under Mike Woodson and the Celtics continue to hang their hat on their defense as well. The Celtics have to make defense their priority in this series as the Knicks can be a very dangerous offensive team. As stated in the first key, the Celtics must especially guard the perimeter. But they also have to guard the paint because the Knicks have several players who can take it strong to the hoop like Melo, KMart, Smith and Copeland.
- The Celtics were 29th in the league in rebounding this season, but he Knicks aren't all that much better, coming in at 24th. Chandler is always a threat for double digit rebounds and it will be important for the Celtics' bigs to box out and keep the Knicks off the boards. The Celtics have got to crash the boards as a team and win the battle on the glass because the Knicks will make them pay with tip ins and second chance points if they don't. Be Aggressive
- Doc has said that aggressiveness is going to determine the winner of this series. He pointed out that in the game the Celtics won, they were the aggressors and in the other 3 games they played passively. The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to be aggressive in going to the hoop and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling. 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. Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics must get off to a good start and play hard for 48 minutes in this game. The Celtics have gotten off to strong starts only to collapse and give up big leads. They have also gotten off to slow starts and sometimes have come back and other times have not been able to catch up. They may get away with slow starts or with letting up in the game with some teams, but they can't count on the Knicks to let them back in if they get themselves down in this game. X-Factors
Focus On the Road
The Celtics have been terrible on the road this season and that's putting it mildly. They have won just 13 games away from home this season. It will be crucial for the Celtics to find a way to focus on the road since they don't have home court advantage. Getting a win in the first game would be huge and to get it they must focus on doing all the little things they didn't do during the season.