Celtics and Knicks clash in a possible first round  preview

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The Celtics travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks for the 4th and final time this season.

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Boston Celtics (38-34) at New York Knicks (45-26)
Sunday, March 31, 2013
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #73 – Road Game #37
TV: CSNNE MSG, NBA-LP 755(BOS)/756(NYK)
Radio: WEEI, ESPN NY
Madison Square Garden
Referees: Tom Washington, Mark Ayotte, John Goble

Game Thread l Chat

Boston Celtics Tickets

The Celtics travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks for the 4th and final time this season. Although the Knicks have taken the Atlantic Division crown from the Celtics, there is still plenty to play for in this one. First and foremost, this may be a preview of the first round playoff matchup if the standings remain as they are now. Second, these teams really don't like each other and there is pride involved, especially for the Celtics who allowed the Knicks to push them around in the game 5 days ago at TD Garden. .

Third, there could still be some shake up in the standings and the Celtics could move up in the standings whereas, the Knicks are trying to hold off the Pacers and keep from dropping to the 3rd spot. The Celtics are 3 games in front of the Bucks, who are in the 8th spot. They are also 1.5 games behind Chicago in the 6th spot and 2 behind Atlanta in the 5th spot. The Knicks are just percentage points in front of the Pacers and need the win to stay in the 2nd spot.

The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games while the Knicks are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Knicks are a good home team with a 26-10 record at MSG, but one of those 10 losses was to the Celtics. The Celtics haven't played well on the road but must find a way to win away from TD Garden since they must win on the road in the playoffs. The Celtics are just 13-23 on the road, but again, one of those 13 wins is against the Knicks.

The Celtics are looking for their 3rd straight win while the Knicks are on a 7 game win streak, looking for their 8th straight win. The Knicks are in the final game of a 3 game home stand. The Knicks are looking to win the season series with the Celtics for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.

The game notes have the same big starting lineup that Doc has used i the past two games. He has said that he's not sure who will start each game, but that lineup is 2-0 and so it seems logical to stick with it while they are winning. Hopefully the bench will also produce as they did against the Hawks.

Probable Starters

PG: #0 Avery Bradley .................................................... SG: #34 Paul Pierce

C: #44 Chris Wilcox

SF: #8 Jeff Green .............................................. PF #30 Brandon Bass

Celtics Reserves

Shavlik Randolph

Courtney Lee

Terrence Williams

Jason Terry

DJ White

Jordan Crawford

Injuries

Rajon Rondo (knee) out

Kevin Garnett (ankle) out

Jared Sullinger (back) out

Red Claws

Fab Melo

Probable Starters

PG: Pablo Prigioni ............................................ SG:Raymond Felton

C: Kenyon Martin

SF: Carmelo Anthony ............................................. PF:Iman Shumpert

Knicks Reserves

James White

JR Smith

Chris Copeland

Steve Novak

Marcus Camby

Jason Kidd

Injuries

Tyson Chandler (knee/neck) questionable

Amar'e Stoudemire (knee) out

Kurt Thomas (foot) out

Rasheed Wallace (foot) out

Key Matchups

vs

Chris Wilcox vs Kenyon Martin

Kenyon Martin had 9 points and 5 rebounds in the Tuesday's game and afterwards said that he had a chip on his shoulder against the Celtics for backing out of a deal to sign him. Danny since said that he never talked to Martin so he may even have more fuel to his fire in this game. Chris has to be aggressive on both ends of the court.

vs

Jeff Green vs Carmelo Anthony

Paul Pierce has said that the toughest matchup for him in the league is Carmelo Anthony. If Doc sticks with the big starting lineup he has used in the last 2 games, it will fall to Jeff Green to try to stop him. Slowing Melo down is key as the Knicks go as Melo goes. In the last 7 games between these two teams, in the Knicks 4 wins, Melo has averaged 32 points per game, but in their 3 losses, Melo has averaged just 23.7 points per game on 34% shooting.

Keys to the Game

Stop JR Smith - JR Smith has emerged as the Knicks top gunner. In Tuesday's game against the Celtics, Smith scored 32 points off the bench. He then went on to score 35 against Memphis and 37 against the Bobcats, both Knicks' wins. It will be crucial for the Celtics to try to slow Smith down and keep him from having another big game.


Defense
- The Knicks have been playing good defense since Woodson took over as coach and the Celtics have also gotten back to their defensive roots, although they have also strayed from it in some games. The Celtics have to make defense their priority in this game especially because the Knicks can be a very dangerous offensive team. The Celtics must especially guard the perimeter as the Knicks are 2nd in the league in 3 pointers made 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 like Melo, KMart, and Smith as well.


Rebound
- The Celtics are 29th in the league in rebounding but he Knicks aren't all that much better, coming in at 24th. Chandler is questionable for this game and they will be a bigger threat on the boards if he plays. 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.

Be Aggressive - 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 get back to winning on the road since they won't have home court in the playoffs and will need to win on the road then. This would be a good time for them to find that focus and prove that they can beat a quality team on the road.


Official Report

Tom Washington

Over his 21-season NBA officiating career, Tom Washington has officiated 1,248 regular season games, 114 playoff games and three Finals games. He was a member of the crews that officiated the 1995 Schick Rookie Game, the 1996 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 2004 NBA All-Star Game. In addition to his 20 seasons with the NBA, Washington has two years of CBA officiating experience. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience in Division II and III, and five years of high school officiating experience in his hometown of Philadelphia, officiating in the playoffs for both the men’s and women’s league. Washington is a Cum Laude graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Norfolk State University.

The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Washington on the court. In a loss to the Pistons last season, Detroit shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics, Rondo was ejected, and Tommy Heinsohn called it the worst officiated game all season (are you cringing yet?). In Game 2 vs the Heat in last season's playoffs, the Heat shot 47 free throws to 29 for the Celtics, in spite of the Celtics attacking the basket all night. There were bad calls throughout the 4th quarter and OT. The missed call where Wade hit Rondo on the head leading to a Heat layup was one of the worst. Pierce, Pietrus, and Dooling all fouled out. LeBron was given 24 free throws all by himself. The first loss this season was at Houston where the Celtics shot 17 free throws to 23 for the Rockets and the officiating wasn't bad. One win was vs the Bobcats in which the Celtics took 20 free throws to 24 for the Bobcats and the officiating was ok. The second loss was to the Cavs where both teams shot 24 free throws and the officiating was good. The second win this season was in OT vs the Hawks where the Celtics shot 20 free throws to 17 for the Hawks and the refs pretty much let them play. The Knicks are 2-0 this season and 8-2 over their last 10 games with Washington on the court. His home W/L record this season is 39-21.

Mark Ayotte

Mark Ayotte completed his eighth NBA season having officiated 469 regular season games. Prior to joining the NBA, Ayotte was a WNBA official for four years and a CBA official for three years. He spent one year officiating in the NBA Development League. Ayotte has 12 years of collegiate officiating experience, having participated in the Pac-10, Big Sky and West Coast conferences. He officiated in the Pac-10 Conference Tournament and the Big Sky Conference Tournament, including the finals. Ayotte also was an official for the preseason and postseason NIT. He has 10 years of high school officiating experience in the state of Arizona. Prior to becoming a professional basketball referee, Ayotte worked as a Systems Design and Test Engineer with AG Communication Systems.

The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 3-7 over their last 10 games with Ayotte. He called a win over the Nets in the preseason and a loss at Detroit and the officiating was ok in both. He also called the loss to the Lakers in LA where they took 31 free throws to 20 for the Celtics and most of the questionable fouls went LA's way. The Knicks are 2-1 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 with Ayotte. Ayotte was one of the refs in the Mavs/OKC game in which Marc Cuban was fined $75,000 for criticizing the referees. Ayotte has a home W/L record this season is 37-18.

John Goble

John Goble enters his fifth season having officiated 314 regular season games and 13 playoff games. He also officiated the 2010 NBA All- Star Rookie/Sophmore game. Prior to working in the NBA, Goble officiated 104 games over four seasons in the NBA Development League and was selected to officiate the 2007 NBA D-League Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Southeastern Conference, where he was a tournament official in 2006 and 2007, and the Sunshine State Conference. Goble received a Bachelors degree in Physical Education from Florida International University, and worked as an account executive and a teacher before joining the NBA. Seems odd that Goble already has worked the playoffs with just 4 years of experience and others have been in the league 12 years or more and haven't cracked the playoff rotation yet.

Goble was the referee who called the clothesline on Barbosa in the first Nets game a regular foul. He also called a foul at the end of the game on an obvious clean steal that could have changed the outcome of the game. The second game that Goble called was vs the Cavs and the officiating was good for the most part. He also called the OT win over the Jazz where the Jazz shot 24 free throws to 20 for the Celtics and the officiating wasn't bad. The last game he called was a win over Philly where the Sixers shot 20 free throws to 17 for the Celtics and the refs let them play. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 games that Goble has officiated and 3-1 this season. The Knicks are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Goble and 1-2 this season. His home W/L record this season is 37-25.

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