New York Knicks (3-0) at Boston Celtics (0-3)
Sunday, April 28, 2013
1:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #4, Home Game #2
TV: ABC, CHCH
Referees: Scott Foster, Derrick Collins, Bill Kennedy
Game Thread l Chat
Boston Celtics Tickets
The Celtics are at the win or go home point of this series. Their backs are against the wall and they will need to reach down and give it all they've got to keep their playoff hopes alive. The players all still seemed confident at their Saturday practice but that confidence must translate to the court, something that hasn't happened in the first 3 games.
Doc wasn't sure who he would start in this game. He could go with the small lineup with JET at the 2, to try to get Terry involved from the start. Terry did play better, but moving Bass to the bench seemed to have nullified his game. I'm going with the big lineup that Doc used in games 1 and 2 but he may return to his starters from game 3, or even use a completely different lineup.
The Knicks will be without JR Smith who will be suspended for game 4. Smith is the Knicks 2nd leading scorer and is suspended for the elbow he threw at Jason Terry's head in game 3, for which he was assessed a flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the game. This is a break for the Celtics, but the Knicks also have enough other weapons that beating them still won't be easy, even without Smith.
The Celtics haven't lost in the first round since 2005 and haven't been swept since Indiana beat them in the first round a year earlier. The Knicks haven't won a playoff series since 2000. No team has ever come back from being down 0-3 in a playoff series and so even if the Celtics win this game, the odds of winning the series are against them. But as I've often said, never count this team out. I sure wouldn't bet against them.
Probable Starting Matchups
Avery Bradley vs Pablo Prigioni
Paul Pierce vs Raymond Felton
Jeff Green vs Iman Shumpert
Brandon Bass vs Carmelo Anthony
Kevin Garnett vs Tyson Chandler
Rajon Rondo (knee) out
Jared Sullinger (back) out
Marcus Camby (foot) questionable
Amar'e Stoudemire (knee) out
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 regressed a bit in game 3, posting just 12 points. Of course, Terry started and Bass struggled to produce off the bench. 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 game. 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. The Knicks have been scoring too easily while the Celtics have continued to struggle on offense.
Execution on Offense - 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. But they also have to improve their focus as even when they got open shots they just weren't falling. The Celtics missed at least 5 layups in game 3 and they have to keep their focus and make those easy shots.
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. The Celtics simply must want this game more than the Knicks.
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.
Limit Turnovers - In moving the ball, they must make smart passes and not turn the ball over. The Knicks scored 26 points off the Celtics' 18 turnovers in game 3. The Celtics simply cannot give the Knicks easy points by being careless with the ball as the Knicks will make them pay if they do.
Home Court and Heart
This game is going to come down to heart. How much do the Celtics really want this game. They have played well at home over the season and although they didn't respond to the home crowd in game 3, they have to feed off the home crowd in this one and reach down to another level to dig out this game.