New York at Boston
7:00 PM EST
Boston: 104.0 points/100 possessions (t-17th)
New York: 108.3 points/100 possessions (5th)
Boston: 97.8 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
New York: 106.9 points allowed/100 possessions (21st)
Probable NY starters: Chauncey Billups (PG), Landry Fields (SG), Carmelo Anthony (SF), Amare Stoudemire (PF), Ronny Turiaf (C)
Probable BOS starters: Rajon Rondo (PG), Ray Allen (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Kevin Garnett (PF), Jermaine O’Neal (C)
View from the opposing bench: Knickerblogger
(Note: CelticsHub answered some first round questions for the good folks over at KB. You can find them right here).
Thumbnail: The drive for banner #18 starts today. No more excuses, no more games that mean nothing, no more SEGABABAs, and no more harping on the Perkins trade (okay, maybe a little more harping). Let’s do this.
Four Factors: Let’s have a look at Dean Oliver’s four factors of basketball success for both Boston and New York.
Boston – 51.89% (7th)
New York – 51.30% (8th)
Misleading figures, perhaps? New York plays at the fourth fastest pace in the entire league. Boston is the seventh slowest team in the league. So, assuming the pace slows, as we expect, the question will be: can New York generate good looks outside of their standard uptempo offense? That’s where Melo comes into play. If you need a late-game bucket, there are few better players to put in a clearout situation. And of course, few teams defend the top wing scorers better than Boston, which will load up the strong side and then live or die based on their ability to rotate and closeout on shooters.
Opposing Teams’ eFG%
Boston – 46.92% (2nd)
New York – 51.09% (23rd)
Obviously, a major advantage for Boston. Can New York up its defensive efforts? If they’re anything near their regular season numbers, the rickety Boston offense could end up in high gear. Much of this will be focused around how New York contains Rondo. Boston will try and put pressure on New York’s transition defense and find the open man in the halfcourt. Like it or not, that will often be Glen Davis.
Boston – 30.5% (23rd)
New York – 30.4% (20th)
For Boston, Rondo and Pierce need to attack the paint rather than settle for jumpers. Pierce has been doing just that lately but Rondo’s been up and down. Their play will be crucial to getting the C’s easy points, and shifting the New York defense out of position. As well, KG can’t just linger on the perimeter for jumpers. He needs to spend more time in the post than he did during the regular season, especially until Shaquille O’Neal gets back.
For New York, Stoudemire will be rolling to the rim on pick and roll action and facing up KG on the wings. Melo’s a big concern too. Pierce and Jeff Green will have their hands full keeping him out of the paint. It’ll be key for Boston to finish off defensive possessions without fouling. Or, if I may make a request of the C’s: could you please use the hard playoff variety on guys if you are going to foul?
Key indicator: if Melo is taking a lot of long contested jumpers, C’s fans should feel good. Doc Rivers will.
Boston – 14.49% (28th)
New York – 12.61% (5th)
Boston’s Opponents – 14.84% (3rd)
New York’s Opponents – 13.78% (9th)
This stuff is all interconnected, of course. New York’s transition attack (and high eFG%) can be stifled if Boston holds onto the ball. Traditionally, this Celtics crew takes better care of the ball in the playoffs than the regular season. But they’ll have to. Because they were awful in the regular season. Again the spotlight turns to Rondo — he needs to make the smart pass, not the flashy one.
New York needs merely to hold serve on its 12.61% regular season rate. But Boston forces the third most turnovers in the league, by rate. Will that number decrease as they gamble less for steals and stay in front of their men in the halfcourt or will it increase because they up their energy and activity on defense?
Boston – 21.12 (30th)
New York – 24.25 (24th)
These are two teams that don’t get on the o-glass. This is particularly unusual for a high-performing offense like New York’s. It suggests their success is based heavily on pace and passing, both of which will be difficult to maintain against this Boston defense.
Boston – 25.32 (9th best)
New York – 28.07 (26th best)
Boston rebounded the ball better this year than last, particularly on the defensive boards. But with the prospect of small lineups and Davis and Nenad Krstic at the 5-spot, I’ll suggest rebounding could be the factor in how far Boston advances in the playoffs. Can they control the boards? KG carries a huge burden here, as does J.O.
Boston will probably let New York off the hook with its disinterest in second chance points. But there’s a real opportunity to attack the glass. The best bet for Boston? Probably Krstic, who had more than a few good games on the offensive glass early in his Celtics tenure.
A decent pace to open the game, then a slowing down and grinding out by the second half.
Sounds like a Celtics win to me.
Boston 101 New York 95
In case you missed them: earlier today, we all posted our playoff predictions. Go make fun of us while you’re waiting for tip-off.
And/or, go check out Brendan’s video breakdown which is right underneath this post.
Let us know what you’re seeing, folks. Seeya back here for the post-game!