Offensive Efficiency (2010-11):
Boston: 104.0 points/100 possessions (17th)
New York: 108.3 points/100 possessions (5th)
Defensive Efficiency (2010-11):
Boston: 97.8 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
New York: 106.9 points allowed/100 possessions (21st)
Key Injuries: Paul Pierce (heel) is doubtful.
Probable NY Starters: Toney Douglas (PG), Landry Fields (SG), Carmelo Anthony (SF). Amar’e Stoudemire (PF), Tyson Chandler (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: Knickerblogger
Thumbnail: Finally. After a brutal offseason filled with endless talk of BRI and escrow, treble damages and league-office vetoes, we’re ready to play basketball. The Celtics take the court in New York today for the very first game of the 2011-12 NBA season. When they last walked on Gotham hardwood, they had just completed a four-game sweep of an injured Knicks team in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Both squads have undergone major surgery since that day; the Celtics by completely revamping their bench and the Knicks by adding Chandler to defend the rim. But despite those operations, both patients are dealing with some of the same ailments that plagued them last season.
More detailed analysis but fewer medical metaphors, after the jump.
PREVIOUSLY ON KNICKS vs. CELTICS:
Despite some wrinkles that could include a renewed focus on offensive rebounding, Boston’s offense will likely remain similar to last season’s, which is to say it will be founded on ball movement in the half-court, great shooting from the mid-range and the three-point-line and opportunistic transition attacks. These things are especially effective in a matchup against the Knicks, where the Celtics will test New York’s willingness to make multiple defensive actions in a given sequence. The majority of last season, teams attacking the Knicks found that consistent ball movement would usually open up an exploitable hole in the New York defense. It’s up to New York to prove that’s no longer true.
While Chandler’s arrival gives New York a legitimate deterrent against attackers finishing at the rim, even he can’t guard the basket and the perimeter at the same. And the Celtics have major advantages at the guard spots with Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen capable of abusing defenders off-the-dribble and by running their men off interminable screens, respectively. Rondo, in particular, abused Douglas in the playoffs last year.
Today’s game would seem to have the potential to turn into a track meet, which could be good for everybody. If early season shooting proves as mediocre as expected, both New York and Boston should have the opportunity to get out and run off of missed shots. Mike D’Antoni and New York would love that kind of game. But even Doc Rivers may use this as an excuse to go small and try and put up easy baskets in transition. Could we see something like Rondo and Ray running with Marquis Daniels, Chris Wilcox and Kevin Garnett? With Pierce out (or limited) with a heel injury, Rivers might as well go deep into the bench and test-drive some new five-man lineups.
Boston’s offense, is, as we all know, a major concern. Its main strengths – ball movement and shooting – can be neutralized by teams willing to close out, rotate and recover. That’s partly why Miami was such a problem last year in the playoffs, despite their lack of size. That has not been a strength of the D’Antoni Knicks. In any guise.
New York’s season (says me) will be defined by whether Melo and Amar’e follow Chandler’s lead and accept the challenge of becoming consistent two-way players. If they’re on point today, Boston could be in for a rough afternoon on the offensive end, because they lack shot creation and post offense. This is one of the key questions for the Celtics this season: can they generate points when long jumpers are not falling? Last season, the answer was usually no. If they don’t find a way to change that, the spring of 2012 could look a lot like the spring of 2011.
Of course, a few of you have been rather vocal about the bleakness of our predictions for the Celtics this season.
So, here’s another perspective.
When musician Warren Zevon was dying from terminal cancer, he offered this now-famous piece of wisdom on the act of living: Enjoy Every Sandwich. That’s just about perfect advice for today. While we may disagree on the likelihood of the season ending with another triumphant Garnett howl on the Garden floor, I gotta admit: I am jazzed for this game, and the prospect of watching these Celtics take the floor for another season. Intellectually, I was entirely ready to move on after last season’s failures but emotionally, I could watch Ray, Paul and KG play another two or three years.
Banner be damned, every game is another sandwich.
Prediction: The Knicks could take this game. They’ll have the energy of the New York crowd behind them and although the playoff series last spring finished 4-0 in Boston’s favor, the Knicks were battling injuries to Stoudemire and the since-departed Chauncey Billups. The regular season games were closer and more representative of the narrowing disparity between these two teams. This should be an intense game one way or another.
Still, it says here the Celtics will run a bunch of holdover sets from last season, hide Sasha Pavlovic as much as possible and escape from New York with a victory.
Boston 90 New York 88