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
Referees: Joey Crawford, Dick Bavetta, Marat Kogut
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.
C: #5 Kevin Garnett
Chris Wilcox (thumb) day to day
SF: Carmelo Anthony ............................................. PF:Chris Copeland
Pablo Prigioni (toe) questionable
Raymond Felton (finger) out
Marcus Camby (fascia) out
Rasheed Wallace (foot) out
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
Defense - 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.
Rebound - 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.
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. With both Joey Crawful and Knick Bavetta on the job, the officiating could definitely be a factor. The Celtics must adjust to the way the game is called.
Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,449 regular season and 293 playoff games, including 47 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s playoff and NBA Finals totals are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford officiated in the Eastern League (CBA) from 1974-76. He graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. and is a member of the Cardinal O’Hara High School Hall of Fame. In 2008, Crawford earned a degree in Liberal studies from Neumann College. Officiating can be considered a Crawford "family affair," as his brother is veteran Major League Baseball umpire Jerry Crawford, and his father is retired Major League Baseball umpire Shag Crawford. Crawford is also very active in his hometown community of Philadelphia.
There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well.
He is widely viewed as one of the refs in the NBA who can officiate with an agenda and shows his biases on the court, hence the controversy that seems to follow him throughout his career. The Celtics played 9 games with Crawford officiating last season the last of which was game 7 vs Miami in the ECF. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 with Crawford and 3-1 this season. He called the 89-86 win over the Wizards in which the Wizards shot 17 free throws to 13 for the Celtics and the refs pretty much let them play. He also called the 101-95 win over Chicago where the Bulls shot 31 free throws to 16 for the Celtics and there were more than a few questionable calls. The 3rd game this season was the OT win over the Mavs in which the Celtics shot 30 free throws to 17 for the Celtics and the calls seemed to favor the Celtics for the most part. The loss this season was against the Grizzlies in which Memphis took 22 free throws to 16 for the Celtics but the officiating was good for the most part. The Knicks are 4-6 in their last 10 with Crawford and 2-1 this season. His home W/L record this season is 14-16 and he doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd.
Here is Joey at his best - Making the game all about himself:
Entering the 2012-13 NBA eason, Bavetta has officiated 2,546 consecutive regular season games and 259 playoff games, including 27 Finals games, never having missed an assigned game throughout his entire career. He was a member of the officiating crew that worked the 1989, 1995 and 2006 NBA All-Star Games, 1997 McDonald’s Championship in Paris, 1993 Mexico Challenge, 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and 1990 Japan Games in Tokyo. Prior to joining the NBA, Bavetta was an official with the Eastern League (CBA) for nine years, and he has also officiated in the Rucker League, FIBA, Jersey Shore Basketball League, as well as both the Public and Catholic High School leagues in New York City. Bavetta attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn. He is a member of the New York City Catholic High School Hall of Fame. He added to his personal honors when he received the National Pro-Am Lifetime Achievement Award and also was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.
There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Bavetta. He was singled out in Tim Donaghy's book for being a "company man" and carrying out league agendas in games. Bavetta also likes to keep games close and will often make a lot of calls against a team that pulls out to a lead to keep the game more exciting. After watching a game where Bavetta has officiated, it's very easy to believe Donaghy's claims.
He was left off the playoff roster the last two seasons and there were rumors of a forced retirement but here he is back again for another season. In his off time, Bavetta doubles as the Crypt Keeper. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Bavetta on the court. One win this season was in OT over the Magic in which the teams were allowed to play and both teams took 19 free throws. The other was a 92-79 win over Philly where the Sixers took 16 free throws to 12 for the Celtics and the refs again let them play. The 3rd game was the first game against the Knicks in which Bavetta was terrible. Twice Tony Brothers made a call from across the court when Bavetta was right next to the play and didn't call it. In that game, the Celtics had Tony Brothers as head ref to help even out the Bavetta effect but in this one, I wouldn't count on Joey Crawford to do the same. The Knicks are 1-1 this season, with the loss being to the Celtics, and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Bavetta. His home W/L record is 19-9.
Marat Kogut enters his fourth year as an NBA Referee having officiated 163 games. Kogut immigrated to the United States with his family seven days after he was born. Raised in Brooklyn, NY, he started officiating at the age of 16 at local recreational youth leagues. His professional experience includes three years in the WNBA, as well as 4 years in the NBA Development League, where he officiated over 180 games, including the Finals in his last two seasons and the 2009 D-League All-Star Game in Phoenix. Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Kogut worked in several Men's NCAA mid-major Division I conferences, including the Ohio Valley Conference, Atlantic Sun, and Big South Conference, as well as in New York metro area High School basketball for four years. Kogut was the Head Men's Basketball Manager for the St. John's Redstorm.
The Celtics 5-5 in the last 10 games with Kogut calling the them. In one loss last season to the Lakers that Kogut called, the officiating was terrible and LA shot 20 free throws to 5 (yes, FIVE) for the Celtics. They are 1-0 this season with Kogut. The win was vs Indiana and the refs let them play in the fist half and then called it tighter on the Celtics in the second half with the Celtics ending with 18 free throws to 28 for the Pacers. KG was called for a flagrant 2 and was ejected, which was later downgraded by the league. The Knicks are 2-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Kogut as a ref. His home W/L record this season is 13-10.