at Boston Celtics (36-25) at New York Knicks (31-29)
Tuesday, April 17
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #61 – Road Game #31
TV: TNT, NBAC, CSNNE
Radio: WEEI, WEPN
Madison Square GardenProbable Starters
PG: #9 Rajon Rondo .................................................... SG: #0 Avery Bradley
C: #5 Kevin Garnett
SF: #34 Paul Pierce .............................................. PF #30 Brandon Bass Celtics Reserves
Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) out
Ray Allen (ankle) day to day
Paul Pierce (toe) probable
Brandon Bass (knee) probable Probable Starters
PG: #21 Iman Shumpert ............................................ SG:#85 Baron Davis
C: #6 Tyson Chandler
SF: #7 Carmelo Anthony ............................................. PF: #2 Landry Fields Knicks Reserves
Toney Douglas Injuries
Jeremy Lin (knee) out
Amare Stoudamire (back) day to day
Tyson Chandler (knee) probable Game Notes
This is the 4th and final meeting between these two division rivals this season. The Celtics lead the series 2-1. The Knicks won the first game of the season. In that game, the Celtics were without Paul Pierce and Sasha Pavlovic started and had to try to guard Melo. The Celtics won the next two games in Boston. The difference in all 3 games was just a total of 8 points so every game has come down to the final minute.
New York is closing out a 3 game home stand while the Celtics are finishing up a 4 game road trip and playing in the 6th game in 8 nights. Paul Pierce and KG didn't travel with the team to Charlotte and so should be rested and ready to play. Ray Allen is meeting the team in New York but no news as to whether he will be playing. Amare Stoudamire is also close to a return and barring a setback, could come back in this game or Wednesday for the Knicks.
This game has all kinds of playoff implications with both teams battling for playoff position. The Celtics are in the 4th spot, 3 games behind Indiana. They are tied with Atlanta and Orlando who are in the 5th and 6th spots. And they are 4.5 ahead of both New York and Philly who are in the 7th and 8th spots. New York is 2 games ahead of the Bucks who are in the 9th spot.
The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 and the Knicks are 6-4 in their last 10. The Celtics are 15-16 on the road while the Knicks are 20-11 at home. The Celtics are looking for their 3rd straight win while the Knicks lost their last time out to the Heat and are looking to get back on track. The Celtics need to bring their A game as this is an important game for both teams and the Knicks are sure to bring theirs. Key Matchups
Kevin Garnett vs Tyson Chandler
This will be a battle between two tough defenders. Chandler limped through the end of Sunday's game vs Miami after bruising his knee. He was sore afterward but said he expected to play in this game. KG is the reigning player of the week and should be rested after getting the game off vs the Bobcats. This should be a fun matchup to watch.
Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony
This is a tough match up for both players and both have come up big for their teams in this matchup. The only game the Knicks won this season was the first one in which Pierce didn't play. Melo has averaged 32 points and 6 rebounds in the 3 meetings while Pierce averaged 32 points and 7 rebounds in the two games he has played. Pierce should be rested and hopefully he won't be feeling any ill effects from the toe injury. With Amare out, Melo has had to shoulder a large share of the scoring and leadership for the team and that could start wearing on him.
Rajon Rondo vs Iman Shumpert
Rondo has faced a different point guard in each matchup with the Knicks but he's played very well against them all. He has averaged 18.7 points, 13.3 assists and 9.0 rebounds in the 3 meetings. With this being on national TV, I expect another big game from Rondo. Keys to the Game Start Fast and Don't Let Up
The Celtics have to come out of the gates quickly and not give the Knicks a chance to gain confidence. And the Celtics have to play 48 minutes and not let up. They have to establish dominance and not give the Knicks any hope they can win this.
- The Knicks have been playing good defense since Woodson took over as coach but they still aren't on the Celtics level defensively. They are ranked 11th in points allowed (94.3) and 9th in FG% allowed (43.8%) while the Celtics are ranked 3rd in points allowed (89.4) and 1st in FG% allowed (41.7%). The Celtics have to make defense their priority and when they do, good things happen.
- The Celtics are no longer the worst rebounding team in the league. They've moved up to 28, averaging 39.1 rebounds per game. The Knicks are ranked 14th, pulling down 42.4 rebounds per game. The Celtics have got to crash the boards as a team and win the battle on the glass if they want to win this game. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to be aggressive in going to the hoop and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling. They must be aggressive on the boards and in going after loose balls and winning the 50/50 plays. The more aggressive team gets the calls from the officials and that will be important in this game. X-Factors
Fatigue, Injuries and Officiating
The Celtics are playing in their 6th game in 8 nights and in their 4th straight on the road and they may be mentally fatigued as much as physically fatigued. But the big 3 should be rested as they had the last game off. Injuries could be a factor if Pierce is limited, if Ray can't play, if Amare is back, or if Chandler is limited. Both teams are a bit banged up and will need to play through the injuries. Another factor could be the officiating. If this game is close as the others have been, if the officials are leaning toward one team or the other, it could make a difference.