Time: 7:00PM EST, April 19th, 2011
Venue: TD Garden, Boston MA
Officials: Joe "The Crypt Keeper" Crawford, Bennett Salvatore, Michael Smith (Ouch.)
TV: TNT, CSN-NE, MSG Radio: WEEI
Countdowninator: 15 Games Left.
Game Thread | War Room
Well, at least the numbers are with us. Typically, the home team in Game 2 of a best of 7 series wins 76% of the time, which is the highest winning percentage of any of the other 6 games. On top of that, the Kevin Garnett-led Celtics are 9-1 in the 10 Game 2's they've experienced, losing their only Game 2 to the Pistons at home in 2008 during the Eastern Conference Finals. So you know, there's that.
On top of that, we just got the news that Chauncey Billups is considered 'very doubtful' for tonight's game.
Then of course there was the prevailing feeling that IF New York was going to be able to steal a game in Boston, they lost that chance on Sunday night, and tonight's game had been looked at (you know, until writers had to do previews for today..now its all encylopedia dramatica) as nearly a foregone conclusion.
And I hope to God that none of the Celtics players have heard any of this.
I say that because after the 'hairs of our chinny chin chin' win on Sunday, I've almost got more questions than answers about these Knicks.
Carmelo Anthony, for one, remains quite an enigma. He of the inside-outside scoring threat, and the unstoppable first step and space-creating middle game became one of Boston's greatest allies late in Game 1, but that won't happen every time. While Paul Pierce needs to be credited with playing great defense on Melo, Mike D'Antoni wasn't wrong when he recently said, "He's fine. I'll be surprised if it happens twice."
Then there is of course the seemingly unstoppable force of Amar'e Stoudemire lurking in the front court like that bald-headed Frankenstien knockoff from 300. (more on him later)
Now I'm not trying to make you feel like the Celtics are the underdogs here. New York is without their starting point guard and most respected leader, Vegas has the Green Guys at +6.5 right now, and the Knicks haven't won a playoff game in Boston since before the Clinton administration (1990 Eastern Conference Semis). To say Boston will likely lose tonight is to go in the face of every piece of empirical evidence I could find.
Just don't tell that to the Celtics.
Graphics and formatting courtesy of Celticsblog's own resident renaissaince woman, FLCeltsFan
Rajon Rondo vs Toney Douglas
As we saw in Game 1, Chauncey Billups cannot contain Rajon Rondo. He just simply cannot stay in front of him. Now, that didn't stop Amar'e, Ronny Turiaf, and Jared Jefferies from rejecting Rajon Rondo like he was Screech Powers and they were Lisa Turtle, but we at least found out that Rondo can get into the paint at will against Billups. Regretfully, He's not playing Billups tonight, he's likely playing Toney Douglas. Ironically, I'm more scared of streaky Toney Douglas against Rondo than I was against Billups. Douglas can hang with Rondo defensively, but beyond that Douglas is capable of putting up points in a hurry. Billups is a bit more steady of the hand, and a bit more dependable, but Douglas is just a wild card, and where every game counts, I'd hate to see a 20pt explosion from him tonight. Rondo is still head and shoulders the better player, but if #9 lays an egg offensively and hesitates defensively, I think this can go the other way real fast.
Ray Allen vs Landry Fields
As I said in the Game 1 preview, Fields cannot handle Ray Allen's 'perpetual motion' style of off-ball movement, and Ray Allen proved that to the tune of 24 points. Since Chauncey Billups is out tonight, I expect to see more of the same, and you also ought to expect New York to run a little more with Bill Walker at the 2 spot.
Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony
This match-up should be a tone-setter for the rest of the series. Melo is coming off of a pretty terrible game that he is rightfully a bit upset about, and should be looking to turn the ship around with a scorching performance tonight. If Pierce and the Celtics can hold Carmelo back again, I expect his shot selection and his efficiency to decline further as the series develops, but if Carmelo can get his confidence high tonight, even in a New York loss, I don't like the Celtics odds in Game 3.
Kevin Garnett vs Amar'e Stoudemire
All I can say about the first game regarding Stoudemire is: Yikes. The guy can score from anywhere, and he proved pretty soundly that he can take Kevin Garnett off the dribble at any time. Garnett is one of the best defenders of the last 20 years, but what Stoudemire showed us in Game 1 would make Dennis Rodman balk. Honestly I expect a better showing from Garnett in this game, as KG is not a man to be taken twice, but the chance is there that Stoudemire at this point in his career might just be a bit too dynamic, and KG might be a bit too slow. I doubt it, but you'll have your answer tonight. Garnett should take tonight's game personally.
Jermaine O'Neal vs Ronny Turiaf
Jermaine O'Neal will be looking to reprise his role as "most unlikely Game MVP of the playoffs" tonight, and frankly we need him. While Ronny Turiaf's 4-5 shooting performance was kind of unfortunate, Jermaine O'Neal's long arms and help defense were clearly a bigger factor on Sunday, and they'll need to be just that again if the Celtics want to slow down Carmelo Anthony again. We need JO to stay out of foul trouble and on the floor, and maybe even grab a few more rebounds (only 4 over 23 minutes a play, a number that would put him as the 83rd best rebounding center in the NBA over 48 minutes). Too much? I hope not.
Shaquille O'Neal (calf, Achilles, age) out
Shelden Williams (ankle) day to day
Keys To The Game:
1) Let Carmelo Anthony Try To Be Their Hero, Baby: Carmelo Anthony is capable of scoring 40 points tonight. However, he's just as capable of shooting the Knicks out of tonight's game. You know the old adage "shooters need to have a short memory"? Well Carmelo Anthony doesn't work that way. He's a passionate, but prideful player. He will not accept Sunday's performance in good spirits, and will be looking for redemption tonight. He will attempt at least 20 field goals tonight, I would bet my
life X-Box on it. If the Celtics can hold him to making less than 10 of those 20+ field goal attempts tonight, that'd go a long ways towards securing win #2.
2) Rajon Rondo Needs Keep A Defensive Lid On Things: Rondo has had a rep for years of being a wrecking ball at the point guard position, a reputation he (justly) earned in strong performances during 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. After Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, New York's best (but inconsistent) scoring option is now Toney Douglas. Rajon Rondo needs to keep Douglas moving towards the middle of the court, funneling him towards Jermaine O'Neal, and making sure Douglas doesn't get any open 3's, especially in transition.
3) Jeff Green Needs To...Be, Aggressive...B-E, Aggressive: Jeff Green, I think you played well last game. I really do. I think while your performance might not have showed up much on the stat line, you seemed to not make any mistakes and be in the right places at the right times. Thing is, tonight we're gonna need a little more. Glen Davis, he's got a problem. He's addicted to field goal attempts. Now, you can't stop him from shooting once he gets passed the ball, but for a moment let's observe that New York's best shot-blocker is Amar'e 'People Question My Defense" Stoudemire, and he's followed quickly by Ronny "I'm Really A Second String Center" Turiaf. Jeff Green, you need to use your swiss-army knife set of offensive skills to get yourself more involved. Yes, that means passing the ball sometimes, but not every time. Remember, this is the same Knicks team that let you shoot 50% against and put in 14 (pretty effortless) points. You can do it again.