The Celtics and the Knicks have one of the oldest rivalries in the league. They face off for the second time this preseason, this time at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics easily won their first meeting 96-82, as they notched their first win of the preseason. The Celtics have won all 4 games since they last met to raise their record to 5-1 while the Knicks have lost just one other game besides their loss to the Celtics for a 3-2 record.
In their first meeting, Al Harrington and David Lee led the Knicks with 13 points each and Darko Milicic led the team in rebounding with 8. The Celtics had a balanced attack with 4 players in double figures including Perk with 14, Sheed and Ray with 13 and KG with 10. Rasheed Wallace also pulled down 12 rebounds in his second game as a Celtic.
Since that game, the Celtics have stuck with their starting lineup and Doc has shuffled the bench, as Sheed would say, like a mad scientist. Leading up to their last game, Doc said several times that he would start Marquis Daniels in the back court with Pierce and Ray but in the end, he stuck with Rondo at the point in the first unit. I expect Doc to stick with his regular starters in this game as well.
On the other hand, Mike D'Antoni has shuffled his starters a couple times since these two teams first met. In their first meeting, the Knicks started Chris Duhon (PG), Wilson Chandler (SG), Danilo Gallinari (SF), Al Harrington (PF), and David Lee (C). The only player starting at the same position in this game will be David Lee. Some players have shifted positions and some, like Nate Robinson, have been moved from the bench to the starting lineup.
This will be the Celtics final tuneup before the regular season starts. They play tomorrow, but Doc has said that he will rest his starters in that game and so it will be time for the young guys to get some extended minutes. So, look for Doc to use this game as the final dress rehearsal for the regular season. The starters should play around 30 minutes and the bench rotation should be close to what it will be in the regular season.
Probable Starting Matchups
vs Nate Robinson
vs Chris Duhon
vs Wilson Chandler
vs David Lee
Big Baby Davis
(ankle) outBill Walker
Over the last couple of games, the Knicks have moved Nate Robinson from the bench into the starting lineup. He is quick and tough and Rondo will have his hands full with him. A GM survey named Rondo one of the top defensive guards in the league. To which Doc said not really. It seems as though Doc and Danny have both decided that the way to motivate Rondo is to put him down. Hopefully he will take the bait and step up his defense to yet another level.
The spotlight is still on KG and so far, it is shining brightly. His offense appears to be back on track as he scored 21 points in 28 minutes in his last outing. He has no sign of a limp or of lingering effects of the injury. He should be able to have another very good game against Jeffries
played for the Knicks from 1992-95Tom Thibodeau
was an assistant coach with New York from 1996-2002
Eddie House played for Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix during the 2005-06 season
Rasheed Wallace and Darko Milicic were teammates in Detroit from 2003-06
Al Harrington and Marquis Daniels were teammates in Indiana during the 2006-07 season.
Things to Watch
Back up point guard spot - Leading up to the last game, Doc had said that he was going to start Daniels at the point but went with Rondo instead. Hudson has been playing very well and Marquis has done a good job playing the point also. Doc needs to make the decision to keep Hudson on the team and should be taking an extra look at him in these last couple games.
Defense - The Celtics have said that they want to be the best defensive team ever. Look for the Celtics to continue to ramp up their defense from game to game.
KG - In each game, KG has gotten closer and closer to 100%. His shot is back, his mobility is there on defense, his alley oop is back, and his intensity is back. Look for KG to look even better every game out.
, we saw some great passes where teammates telegraphed passes from one to another. We are seeing alley oops not just with KG but with Rasheed as well. The chemistry is building on this team and the new players and returning players are learning each others' games and where they like the ball. It is going to be fun watching this team as the chemistry gets even better.