Boston Celtics (2-0) at New York Knicks (0-2)
Friday, April 21
7:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #3, Road Game #1
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, MSG
Madison Square Garden
Referees: Dan Crawford, Marc Davis, Gary Zielinski
Game Thread l Chat
For the first time in 7 years, the Knicks will host a playoff game at Madison Square Garden. They come into the game down 2-0 after 2 games that both were decided in the last seconds of the game. The Celtics weren't feeling very good about their 2-0 record after playing poorly in both games in spite of being at home with the crowd behind them. They will be facing what is sure to be a loud and very hostile crowd in MSG and probably some hostile officiating on the road as well.
Amar's Stoudemire, who missed the second half of game 2 with back spasms, didn't practice on Thursday but is expected to play in this game. Chauncey Billups had his sore knee drained and is listed as questionable for this one. If he can't go, expect Toney Douglas to once again get the start. Shaquille O'Neal traveled with the team to NY but is expected to miss this game. He may play on Sunday, but then again, he may not.
In the first game, Stoudemire starred for the Knicks with 28 points and 11 rebounds while Anthony struggled somewhat. In the second game, with Stoudemire and Billups out, Carmelo Anthony was outstanding with 42 points and 17 rebounds, practically carrying the team all by himself. Paul Pierce has said that he has to be better defensively on Anthony to prevent another performance like that in this game. For the Celtics, in game 1, Ray Allen stepped up with 24 points and 6 rebounds. In game 2, we finally saw the aggressive Rondo once again as he scored 30 points and dished out 7 assists.
The Celtics can expect the Knicks to come out swinging and if they don't put forth a better effort, they might not be so lucky to pull this one out at the end. The Celtics bench, although with more talent than the Knicks bench, has been out played in the first 2 games. The Celtics must get more from Big Baby, Jeff Green and Delonte especially. In both games, the starters have built a lead only to have it disappear when the starters go out for a rest. The bench must produce more in this game.
We know that the Celtics can play much better. The Knicks also can improve if they can get a good game from both of their stars on the same night. The Celtics have to improve their defense and their execution throughout the game and not just at the end. If the Celtics finally play a complete game, instead of turning it on and off throughout the game, they should get a win without the need for last second heroics.
Effort and Focus - The Celtics need to bring an extra effort along with total focus on the game. Rebounding can be a sign of the amount of effort a team puts in. It takes effort to go to the ball and fight for the rebounds. They also have to put out the effort to get the 50-50 balls and go after every loose ball. The Knicks will be putting the effort out since to them, this is a must win. The Celtics have to match that effort.