at New York Knicks (8-14) at Boston Celtics (11-10)
Friday, February 3
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #22, Home Game #14
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, MSG, NBAC
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo 15.0 PPG, 5.10 RPG, 9.4 APG 1.7 SPG
Iman Shumpert 10.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.3 APG 2.2 SPG
I'm going on wishful thinking here. We've been hearing for a couple of weeks that Rondo is day to day and on Wednesday Doc said that Rondo was very close and could come back for this game. So, I'm putting him in as point guard for this matchup. Rondo gives up 4 inches to Shumpert but Rondo has an experience advantage. The Celtics need to take care of the ball with Shumpert on the floor as he is averaging 2.2 steals a game.
Ray Allen 14.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.9APG, .564 3P%
Landry Fields 9.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, .273 3P%
Again, Fields has a height advantage over Ray (2"). Fields is a good defender but will be hard pressed to stay with Ray through all of the screens so hopefully Ray will be able to get his shot off as the Celtics need his scoring.
Paul Pierce 17.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.5 APG, .433 FG%
Carmelo Anthony 23.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.9 APG, .404 FG%
This is one of the marquee matchups in the league. Both players are tough and both can take the ball to the hoop or hit from outside and both can find an open teammate if they don't have the shot. Melo has a habit of swinging elbows and so Celtics need to be careful not to catch one in the head. This will be a fun matchup to keep an eye on. Paul Pierce has been playing some very good basketball and hopefully he will continue in this game.
Kevin Garnett 13.1 PPG, 7.20 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.1 BPG, 1.000 3P%
Amar'e Stoudemire 17.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 BPG, .357 3P%
This is a great matchup. Expect some trash talk and physical wrestling for position between these two.
Jermaine O'Neal 5.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.4 BPG
Tyson Chandler 11.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.1APG, 1.3 BPG
The Knicks have an advantage at this position. Jermaine has said he is concentrating on defense and the Celtics could use some defense against Chandler in this one. Celtics Reserves
Greg Stiemsma Injuries
Keyon Dooling (hip) day to day
Rajon Rondo (wrist) day to day Key off the Bench
Brandon Bass 12.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG 0.9 APG .486 FG%
Mickael Pietrus 8.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.4 APG, .387 3P%Knicks Reserves
Jerome Jordan Injuries
Josh Harrellson (wrist) out
Baron Davis (back) out Key off the Bench
Toney Douglas 8.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, .324 FG%
Bill Walker 6.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, .437 FG%Game Notes
This is the second meeting between these two division rivals (or maybe not, depending on who you listen to). They met for the first time for a wild game on Christmas Day. In that game, the Knicks overcame an 8 point deficit in the 4th quarter to beat the Celtics 106-104. However, the Celtics didn't have Paul Pierce in that game. Sasha Pavlovic had the honor of guarding Carmelo Anthony, who scored 37 points, 17 of which came in the 4th quarter.
With Pierce back in the lineup and playing well, hopefully Melo won't have quite as easy a time of it. Also making it a little more difficult for the Knicks is the fact that they played Chicago on national TV the night before while the Celtics had the night before off and an easy game vs the Raptors the night before that.
While Paul Pierce insists that the Knicks and Celtics aren't a rivalry, things certainly do get heated between these two teams when they play. The Christmas Day game had 6 technical fouls called and that's pretty much the norm when these two teams go at it. Expect another heated and hard fought battle in this game as well. Keys to the Game Bench Play
- The starting lineups for these two teams are fairly close as far as production. The difference is going to be when the reserves come into the game. Since the Knicks played on the night before, they may need to rely on their bench a little more than the Celtics. The Celtics didn't have Pietrus during the first game and he has made a big difference for the team. The Celtics' reserves may be the difference in this game. 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 and not allow the Knicks to get going. The Celtics seem to be finding their defensive identity once again and they need to keep that as a priority in this game. Move the Ball
- When the Celtics move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man, they are a very tough team. They need to play unselfish team ball from start to finish in this game. 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. The Celtics need to gang rebound and have every player go to the boards when a shot goes up. The team that wins the rebounding battle is usually the team that wants the win more and therefore is usually the team that wins the game. X-Factors
Health and Energy
Rondo's availability could be a big factor in how this game comes out. But, whether Rondo plays or not, the team's energy will be a factor. The Celtics need to come out strong and play with energy the whole game. The Knicks are playing in the second of back to back games so fatigue could be a factor for them by the end of the game.