New York Knicks (2-0) at Boston Celtics (0-2)
Friday, April 26, 2013
7:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #3, Home Game #1
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, MSG, NBAC
Referees: Danny Crawford, Marc Davis, Michael Smith
Game Thread l Chat
The Celtics return to the TD Garden for their first game since the bombs at the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded hundreds more. As with the Bruins and the Red Sox before them, the Celtics will pay tribute to the victims and the first-responders in a pregame ceremony - and then try to put it aside and play. The fans and the team can give each other a much needed lift.
The Celtics struggled on the road in the first two games, just as they have struggled on the road all season. At the Garden, however they have played very well and hopefully some home cooking will be just what they need to get back on track and to even up the series. The Celtics had a bigger home-court advantage during the regular season - winning 13 more games in Boston than on the road - than any other playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Garnett injured his hip in game 2 but will play and according to Doc is fine. The Celtics need a healthy KG if they are going to win this series. The Celtics also need to get more from their bench. Jason Terry has been more mouth than game and they need him to snap out of his slump. They need others to contribute as well and if the players on the court aren't getting it done, Doc needs to try someone else.
The Celtics need to somehow solve their second half woes, whether it is fatigue or focus, they have to find a way to be consistent throughout the game and not disappear in the second half. The Celtics can win this game and this series, but they need to stay focused and hopefully the home crowd will be just what the Doctor ordered.
Probable Starting Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs Tyson Chandler
Rajon Rondo (knee) out
Jared Sullinger (back) out
Kevin Garnett (hip) probable
Key off the Bench
Doc has said that Crawford has moved in front of Courtney Lee for playing time. Crawford is somewhat of a loose cannon. He can be very good or very bad. The Celtics need the very good Crawford who can give them instant offense as well as handling the ball for the second unit.
JET has been very vocal off the court but hasn't given the Celtics much on the court. He didn't score in the first game at all. It looked like he was going to be a factor in game 2 but he disappeared in the second half when the Celtics desperately needed someone to knock down some shots. The Celtics need Jason Terry to get back on track.
Marcus Camby (foot) questionable
Amar'e Stoudemire (knee) out
Key off the Bench
Sixth Man of the Year JR Smith has proved that he can take over a game if not guarded closely. He is a threat from beyond the arc as well as to drive to the hoop.
Martin has been rebounding, blocking shots and scoring for the Knicks. He has been a big factor in both games so far. The Celtics have to be aware of his presence at all times and need to try to keep him away from the basket.
Keys to the Game
Bench Play - The Celtics bench must give them more. Although they did better in the second game with 19 points (Crawford 10, Terry9) they still need to do better. If the players Doc puts in don't produce, Doc needs to go deeper into the bench as the starters can't carry the whole load.
Defense - The saying that defense wins championships is very true. The Celtics ability to get stops will be a big key in winning this series. It would be nice to see them come out from the start playing lock down defense but more importantly to continue to play that defense after the half and until the final buzzer.
Move the Ball - One way to help their offensive struggles is to move the ball quicker and not allow the defenses to get set up. They can't let the ball get stuck with any one player as iso ball won't beat the Knicks. In moving the ball, they must make smart passes and not turn the ball over.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to win the 50-50 balls. They must be more aggressive in diving for loose balls, going for rebounds, and driving to the basket. The more aggressive team usually gets the benefit of the calls and also usually wins the game. We know the Knicks are going to be aggressive and the Celtics must be more so.
Rebound - The Celtics must make an effort to crash the boards and win the rebounding battle. They can limit the Knicks second chance points as well as their fast breaks by beating them to the rebounds. It is crucial for every player to go after rebounds and fight for them.
Play Both Halves - The Celtics have come out strong in both games on the road and had good first halves. For some reason, they have come out after the half like a completely different team, no longer aggressive, no longer hitting shots or going to the basket and just completely coming apart. They must somehow play strong for a full 48 minutes.
KG's Health and Home Court
KG injured his hip in game 2 and Doc has said he will play in game 3 but if he is limited, so are the Celtics. There have already been questions about his ankle and now his hip. The Celtics need a healthy and aggressive KG in order to win this series.
The Celtics return home for the first time since the Marathon bombing and so it will be an emotional return to the Garden. The Celtics need to use that emotion and energy from the crowd and feed off of it to fuel their play. Hopefully being back home will get them back on track.
Entering his 28th NBA season, Dan Crawford has officiated 1,822 regular season and 270 playoff games, including 27 NBA Finals games. During his NBA tenure, Crawford has officiated the 1994 and 2001 NBA All-Star Games, and the 1992 Japan Games in Yokohama. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford spent four years officiating in the CBA. He has eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conferences and officiated the 1983 and 1984 National Junior College Nationals. Crawford has been honored for his achievements in the Northeastern (Ill.) Wall of Fame. Crawford was a member of the Northeastern University basketball team.
After one of the Celtics playoff games in Chicago in round 1 in 2008, there was some controversy when he was seen leaving the arena with his family all decked out in Chicago Bulls gear. He's been in the news lately because he has been accused of having a bias against Marc Cuban because the Mavs were 2-16 in games officiated by Crawford last season and Cuban has been very vocal about it. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 2-8 over their last 10 games with Crawford officiating. The Celtics haven't fared much better than the Mavs with Crawford as a ref. Amazingly, the win was over the Heat where the Celtics took 27 free throws to 20 for the Heat and the officiating was pretty good. The loss was at Golden State where the Celtics took 21 free throws to 16 for the Warriors and the refs pretty much let them play. The Knicks are 3-1 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games. His home W/L record is 43-29 this season.
Marc Davis has been an NBA official for the past 15 seasons, working 851 regular season games and 43 playoff games, and the 2007 NBA All-Star Game. Davis officiated his first two Finals games during the 2010- 11 season. In addition to his NBA experience, Davis has three years of CBA officiating experience and three years of collegiate basketball officiating experience in the OVC and TAAC Junior Colleges. In 2000, Davis was the recipient of the Honorary Nate Humphries Award, an honor given by the Chicago Public League Coaches Association in recognition of enshrinement of an official into the Chicago Public League Hall of Fame.
Davis was investigated for threatening to whoop Allen Iverson's a** when AI complained about a call in a game in 2005, but was not suspended for it. In 2009, Davis was seen after a Celtics/Bulls game with his family all decked out in Bulls gear. Can a Bulls fan honestly call a Celtics game without any bias, especially one against the Bulls? One loss last season was a 1 point loss to the Cavs in which Davis and friends ignored a very obvious foul committed against Paul Pierce in the final seconds of the game and in which the Cavs shot 20 free throws to 14 for the Celtics. In a win against the Hawks last season with Davis the officiating was terrible. The Hawks shot 23 free throws to 13 for the Celtics. KG fouled out in that game on a terrible call. They were holding his jersey and had an elbow in his back and they called the foul on KG. Stiemsma fouled out shortly after on two more terrible calls. In the 4th quarter, 12 fouls were called on the Celtics and only 4 on the Hawks. In OT, 4 fouls were called on the Celtics while none were called on the Hawks, even through there were several very obvious fouls committed. Donny Marshall usually doesn't comment on the officiating but said that the Celtics needed to send the tape of this game to the league because Davis made it all about him. Davis also called Game 1 of the Hawks series last season. There were missed and bad calls the entire game. At one point, the ref at half court called an obvious foul on the Hawks when Davis, right next to the play, failed to call it. The frustration over the lack of calls boiled over and resulted in Rondo bumping Davis and being ejected.
The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games and 2-3 this season including a win over the Knicks in the preseason and a loss at Milwaukee where the officiating was good and a loss at the Clippers where LA shot 24 free throws to 15 for the Celtics and they missed calls both ways. The last loss was vs the Bulls and the officiating was terrible. With 12 seconds left, Pierce was trapped and fouled, including a busted lip, right in front of Davis with no call. Rondo was signalling for a time out right in Davis' face but they called a jump ball instead of calling the foul or the time out. Even Hubie Brown was talking about how bad the calls were the entire game and Hubie doesn't usually comment on the officiating. The last game was a win over Detroit where the officiating was again terrible. Detroit took 10 free throws in the first quarter while the Celtics got their first FT with 5 seconds to go in the quarter. Detroit finished with 30 free throws to 22 for the Celtics and there were bad calls and no calls the entire game. They are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Davis on the court. The Knicks are 3-2 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Davis on the court. His home W/L record is 44-25.
A winner of the Vanguard Club Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of sports, NBA veteran official Michael Smith has officiated 1,131 regular season and 31 playoff games, as well as the 1997 Schick Rookie Game, the 2000 Mexico Challenge and the 2003 NBA Europe Games.
In addition to his 19 seasons of NBA officiating experience, Smith has five years of CBA officiating experience and eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big Ten, SEC and Conference USA. Smith also has 10 years of high school officiating experience and was a member of the crew that officiated the 1990 McDonald’s High School All-America Game. Smith’s athletic experience includes playing basketball and baseball at South Side High School in Memphis,Tenn.
The Celtics are 3-1 with Smith this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games. The first 3 games this season were evenly officiated. The last one against Cleveland was terrible. Tommy described it this way: "I don't recall a game when there was such a plethora of terrible calls throughout. The Cavs shot 26 free throws to 22 for the Celtics and the bad calls went both ways. The Knicks are 3-0 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Smith. Smith was one of the referees Mark Cuban received a $75,000 fine for criticizing in an OKC/Mavs game last season. His home W/L record is 40-24.