New York Knicks (0-0) @ Boston Celtics (0-0)
Round 1, Game 1
Time: 7:00PM EST, Sunday, April 17th, 2011
Venue: TD Garden, Boston MA
Officials: Not Announced Yet
TV: TNT, CSN-NE Radio: WEEI
The Line: The Celtics swept the "New Knicks" this season,
making it the first time that it has happened since the
Championship season in 2008 (The Celtics were 3-1 against
the Knicks the last 2 yrs). The two teams have met in the
playoffs twelve different times over the past 60 years,
with each team winning six of the series.
GAME THREAD | WAR ROOM
At last. At last, the games will matter. At last we can stop wondering "How the Celtics will do in the playoffs". No more talk of seeding, of gaining or losing home court advantage, or 'sending a message'. There are no more messages to be sent, for better or worse the playoff seeding has been decided, and the road finally is clear. The answers we've all been waiting for are coming, my kiddies.
Tonight is just the beginning, and I for one could not be more excited. As I wrote about a week ago, I'm pretty satisfied with this match-up. Some people pulled for the 76ers, because they thought they'd be the easier opponent. Some were hoping for the Pacers, for a similar reason. Not me, I was pulling for the new-look Knicks, because I know this team. This team doesn't have a 'switch'. They're a bunch of old guys who are battle-tested and Championship worthy. With the season they've just had, they don't need a patsy first round opponent. They're like an old blade, and you don't sharpen your blade on butter. These Celtics need a challenge, they've got to earn their swagger back.
Tonight is just the first step, and I cannot wait to see what comes next. Click on the jump for a game breakdown and other fun goodies.
Graphics courtesy of our own lovely and talented author, FLCeltsFan
Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups
This is an interesting match-up, because frankly we don't really know what will happen. Rajon Rondo is fully capable of dominating Billups. Rondo is substantially quicker, and should be able to get wherever he wants when he has the ball in his hand.
But Billups is a crafty guy. He's not called "Mr. Big Shot" for nothing. He's seen every high-stakes moment the NBA can offer, and he will not wilt under the bright lights of the playoffs. Rondo however is a bit harder to peg down. he's been up and down all season, and he's been known to disappear for entire playoff series, let alone games. A big part of me wants to say that this match-up will define the series, but really it won't. If Rondo is on point, we'll say he was the key, but if he's not the Celtics still can take this as long as the defense holds up.
Ray Allen V Landry Fields
Let me first say that I am a huge Landry Fields fan. I just like the way the kid plays, and heart he shows. Any team in the league would be lucky to have him, and the Knicks got an absolute steal in the second round of the draft.
That said, Ray Allen should destroy him in at least 2 or 3 of these games. Landry Fields is as dedicated a defender as the Knicks have at the swingman position, but he's not going to be able to keep up with Ray as he motors around those picks (assuming the picks are there). This is definitely a match-up to keep an eye on, if Ray can find his confidence early, this should be fun to watch.
Paul Pierce V Carmelo Anthony
This will be an interesting match-up for the captain. We all know that Paul Pierce can ratchet up his defense in the playoffs, but Carmelo Anthony, along with being one of my favorite players to watch, is one of the top 2 or 3 pure scorers in basketball. His game actually mirrors Paul Pierce's pretty closely. As long as Pierce can keep Anthony from getting beyond 30 points per contest and/or shooting below 45% from the field, it should be a net gain.
Kevin Garnett V Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar'e is a pretty awesome force to watch. He can score from anywhere inside the 3pt line, he can still jump out of the gym, and he's blossomed into a bit of a leader. However, I'm not sure he's up to the task of taking on Kevin Garnett for an entire playoff series. It is the little things that define Kevin Garnett, and once these playoffs get rolling, Stoudemire will be hard put to find many easy shots. Granted, I fully expect Amar'e to average 18 or so points per game, but I think if anyone can limit the so called STAT, its KG.
Jermaine O'Neal V Ronny Turiaf
Neither one of these guys should show up too much in the boxscore (although Turiaf did manage to hit double digits in an earlier game against the Boston Celtics this season), and they don't need to. Jermaine O'Neal doesn't seem to score much in the Boston offense, and Ronny Turiaf hasn't had a play called for him all season. Basically, these guys are just here to play defense and chew bubble gum, and I've heard confirmation that they're just about out of Juicy Fruit.
Shaquille O'Neal (calf, Achilles, age) day to day
Delonte West (ankle) probable
Shelden Williams (ankle) day to day
Keys To The Game:
1) Rebound, That Basketball!- The Celtics' greatest weakness beyond father time seems to be their soft play on the backboards. We saw this all too often last season, and this season has at times been pretty similar. Jermaine O'neal, our tallest and most talented 'true' center, recently managed to go for 31 straight minutes without a single rebound. Add Glen Davis's T-rex arms into that mix, and you've got a situation that can get dire pretty quickly, The Celtics need to set the tone early with their play regarding rebounds. The Knicks and Celtics are similar teams, in that both rely on their all-world power forwards to do a lot of heavy lifting regarding boards. In the end it will be the team that wants to rebound more that will get it.
2) Don't You, Forget About Ray- Ray Allen's career field goals attempted per 36 minutes is right a 14. This season, he's down to 12, since the All-Star break he's at 11, and in the six games he played in April, Ray was down to less than 9 field goal attempts per game. The Celtics have a clear advantage at the off guard against the Knicks, and they need to utilize it.
3) When The Garden's A-Rockin, Don't Come A-Knockin- Tonight the Celtics are going to have everything going for them heading into the game (except for Shaq). They'll be rested, they'll be well-practiced, and they'll have a packed house of rabid Boston fans. They need to make sure they take something from that, because as crazy as Boston fans are, New York fans aren't far behind, especially when they've got something cheer for. Madison Square Garden will be as tough for the Celtics to play in as TD Garden will be for the Knicks, so the Celtics need to take advantage of home court while they have it.