Knicks and Celtics Clash Takes on Added Drama

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(19-35)    AT  (35-19)
New York Knicks (19-35) at Boston Celtics (35-19)
Tuesday, February 23
7:30 PM ET
TV:  CSN-NE, MSG, NBA LP 752, 753
Radio:  WEEI,  WEPN
TD Garden

Referees:  Monty McCutchen, Kevin Fehr, Courtney Kirkland x

Game Thread    l     Chat 

Tonight's game between the Knicks and Celtics takes on added drama as Eddie House returns to the Garden for the first time since his trade and Nate Robinson makes his Garden debut for the Celtics. Both players will be doing their best to beat the team that traded them away.   Eddie had a solid first game with the Knicks  and seems to fit into their system seamlessly.   Since Nate hasn't even practiced with the team yet,  the team has no idea what to expect from him.

With the addition of Tracy McGrady, Eddie House and Sergio Rodriguez, the Knicks can't be taken for granted any longer.  The other story of this game is that the Celtics' Captain is expected to sit out the game to rest his sore thumb.   Also, in last night's game against the Bucks, Tracy McGrady was obviously limping and so it will be interesting to see if he is already going to be going on the Knicks injury list after just 2 games.    This is the first game in the Garden in 16 days and so the Garden crowd should be more than ready for this game.  

This is the second of 4 meetings between these two division rivals.  In their first meeting in November, the Celtics won by just 2 points in overtime in New York.   The Knicks have been slumping, having gone 1-9 in their last 10 games.   The Celtics have been picking up the pace and even though they are 6-4 in their last 10 games, they have won 3 of their last 4 games.   The Knicks are 7-17 on the road while the Celtics are 15-9 at home.   The Knicks last won in Boston in November 2006.   

The Knicks are playing in back to back games, having played the Bucks the night before.  The Celtics had Monday off, but are coming off a long road trip and the first game at home isn't always an easy one.   In spite of these facts, I am sure both teams will be up for the game to try to win for their new teammates.      Tracy McGrady is trying to prove to one and all that he can still play.   We know that Eddie House will be motivated to put on a show.  And, an underrated addition to the team is Sergio Rodriguez, who is a handful off the bench.  On the Celtics side,  according to early reports, Nate just wants to fit in and to win.

Probable Starting Matchups
  vs 
Rajon Rondo vs Chris Duhon
 
  vs 
Ray Allen vs Tracy McGrady
 
  vs 
Tony Allen vs Wilson Chandler 
 
  vs 
Kevin Garnett vs Danilo Gallinari 
 
vs
Kendrick Perkins vs David Lee

Key Matchups
  vs 
Rajon Rondo vs Chris Duhon
Rajon Rondo is the engine that makes this team run.  When Rondo is aggressive and drives to the basket and sets the pace of the game, the Celtics play so much better than when he is tentative.  He needs to set the tone for the starters right from the beginning.  He should have a very good game against Duhon

  vs 
Ray Allen vs Tracy McGrady
Ray Allen has been playing his best basketball of the season and TMac had a great first game with the Knicks.  Hopefully Ray will stay hot and since McGrady hasn't been playing until recently, Ray should have more stamina and be able to outlast TMac. 

Honorable Mention
Nate Robinson vs Eddie House
This will be a fun matchup to watch between two players who were traded for each other.  Eddie shot the lights out in his first game with the Knicks and will be looking to light up the Celtics as well.  Nate hasn't had a practice with the Celtics and so Doc said they would mostly run pick and rolls when he is in.   


Keys to the Game
Defense The Celtics had gotten back to their tough team defense in the first 3 games of the road trip, but against the Nuggets, they slacked off again.  They need to bring that defensive focus game in and game out. 
 
Rebound   The Celtics have been allowing other teams to out rebound them.  They need to make a concerted effort to grab rebounds on both the offensive and defensive ends.   David Lee is very good at tip ins and put backs and the Knicks will be looking to run on defensive rebounds so the Celtics must crash the boards to limit both of those options for the Knicks.   

Rondo's Aggression As goes Rondo, so goes the team.  Rondo must be aggressive and set the pace of the game and take the ball inside.  He can't be tentative because that makes the whole team tentative. 

Focus The Celtics tend to lose focus from time to time, especially at home for some bizarre reason.  They have to make a statement over the last part of the season and so they have to come out focused in each and every game and they have to re-establish home dominance. 

X-Factor
First Home Game After Road Trip
The first home game after a road trip tends to be a let down game.  Hopefully the Celtics will be focused on getting back to dominance and not let this happen. 

 

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