New York at Boston
7:30 P.M. EST.
Local TV/Radio: CSN/WEEI
Boston: 106.8 points/100 possessions (13th)
Knicks: 106.6 points/100 possessions (15th)
Boston: 101.5 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Knicks: 109.7 points allowed/100 possessions (24th)
Probable NYK starters:
Dario Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, David Lee, Sergio Rodriguez, Tracy McGrady?
Knicks: PROBABLE: Tracy McGrady (knee) Celtics: DOUBTFUL: Paul Pierce (thumb) (ed note: I’d bet the house and the farm he doesn’t play tonight)
Thumbnail: Eddie House returns to Beantown in what will be, without a doubt, one of the biggest ovations this year from the Garden crowd, when he takes the floor. Former C’s Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens also will be back and oh yeah that Nate Robinson guy is scheduled to make his debut as well to exact revenge against his former team and the coach that he was constantly at odds with in Mike D’Antoni.
WHAT THE KNICKS DO WELL:
This is a tough category to define for the New Yorkers given how much change in personnel they’ve had over the past week and the fact, they just don’t do much well as it is, not lately anyway (1-9 in past 10 games) All that said, let’s try to focus on a couple pluses here:
* Defend The 3 Ball
For a poor defensive team, this is the one thing they do quite well on that end on the floor, limiting their opponents to just 33.8 percent shooting from downtown this year, good for 5th in the league. Why this is, I’m not too sure but their strong perimeter defense definitely does not translate well to the interior.
*Take Care of the Ball
10th in the league in turnover percentage…..not exactly world beaters, but a heck of a lot better than your Boston Celtics. New personnel though in the form of White Chocolate and Tracy McGrady could change this however.
WHAT THE KNICKS DO POORLY:
Lots to pick from here, so let’s just make a nice laundry list of items to choose from:
Doesn’t matter from where it is on the floor (45%) or from deep (33.7%) they don’t do it well
Rank in the bottom 5 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. That will happen when your 2nd best rebounder is Al Harrington at 5.6/game. David Lee is terrific, but gets no help down low
Defending the interior
As noted above, when your 2nd best big man rebounder is Al Harrington, it likely indicates a bit of a problem in the paint defending big men. David Lee is no world beater inside either on the defensive side of things.
PLAYER/S WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
* David Lee
His offensive rebounding and efficient movement without the ball have always given the C’s some trouble. As long as the C’s keep him to just 20-10, they will be fine, but Perk and company need to pay extra close attention to him on the boards tonight, given their rebounding problems this year.
* Eddie House
We could get a 25 point effort or a 4/16 effort we saw last night against Milwaukee. I’m banking on something in between but how do you not fear Eddie getting into the zone on a night like this? Luckily, we have Nate Robinson to counter him.
PLAYER/S WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
* Tracy McGrady
This will be his 3rd game in four nights, and he is also playing on a bad knee. The latest reports have him as probable, but I expect Tony Allen to enjoy his assignment in place of Paul Pierce to hound the former Rocket all night, all over the floor.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM THE C’s TONIGHT:
* Pound The Interior
As I said before, the Knicks front line right now is extremely thin. In fact their depth chart at center consists of David Lee, Jonathan Bender (yes, the former Pacer) and Al Harrington. KG seems to have gotten his groove back offensively these last couple games as has Perk. With Pierce out, the time is right to get the ball down low to the big boys early and often this evening. Strong interior play will open up the outside game as well as potentially put the Knicks biggest threat against the C’s (David Lee) in foul trouble.
After an encouraging western road swing against tough Western Conference opponents, the C’s return home to face the lowly Knicks with the distraction of a homecoming and a debut of Nate Robinson, to go along with the likely absence of Paul Pierce. On paper, the C’s should have no problem winning this game even without The Truth, but they will need to show the sense of urgency and focus, especially on the defensive end they exhibited out West. The Garden hasn’t been the best venue for Boston this year regarding that kind of effort, so tonight will be the start of a new era this season hopefully.
PREDICTION: This one stays tight early on, but the Celtics pull away easily in the 2nd half. Eddie puts up 12 points, Nate makes a nice debut with 14 and a nice open court dunk and we get a Bill Walker sighting as well during crunch time. Everyone goes home happy. Celtics 109, Knicks 91