Boston: 98.1 points/100 possessions (23rd)
New York: 97.9 points/100 possessions (24th)
Boston: 96.0 points allowed/100 possessions (4th)
New York: 97.2 points allowed/100 possessions (8th)
Probable New York Starters: Jeremy Shu-How Lin (PG), Landry Fields (SG), Carmelo Kiyan Anthony (SF), Amar’e Carsares Stoudemire (PF), Tyson Cleotis Chandler (C)
View From the Opposing Bench: Knickerblogger
Boston: Jermaine O’Neal is questionable for a change.
New York: None.
The Celtics have the distinction of being the last team to play the Knicks in pre-Lin era. It was February 3rd, the day before Lin humiliated Deron Williams and became a sentient pun. The Celtics squeaked out a two-point victory that day, just as the Knicks had against them in the first game of the season. Seems crazy, but Carmelo Anthony was actually the focal point of the offense back then, rather than Steve Novak. J.R. Smith was busy trying to keep his sister from killing someone in China. Baron Davis’s back was getting better, but he was considering tweaking it again so he wouldn’t have to play on this terrible team.
So in a way, the Celtics deserve credit for Linsanity. They kept that game close enough that Iman Shumpert had to play 42 minutes, the only reason Lin got the time he did the next day. The Celtics also deserve credit, maybe more so, for ignoring an eventual star who played at a college FOUR MILES AWAY.
Casual basketball fans are all, “Myaaah, the Knicks are so undisciplined! All they care about is putting up points! What happened to fundamentals and defense myaahh myaaaah!”
The Knicks are great at defense, of course. It’s their offense that sucks. Jeremy Lin has, to some extent, turned things around, and they’ve reeled off some terrific scoring performances since he appeared, but they’re still chilling in the league’s bottom third. And since Carmelo Anthony’s return, they’ve posted three of four games of below-average offense, with their only above-average game coming most recently against Cleveland.
So discouraging the offense should be important here. Cutting off their passing lanes for their limited ball movement, smothering Melo when he stops the ball. I imagine Rondo has seen some tape of Lin’s tendencies, and while Pierce vs. Melo is kind of a scary prospect, Pierce tends to gear up on defense for big games and he’ll probably give Melo a few discreet kidney punches in the opening minutes.
Meanwhile, this should be another game in which Rondo is featured prominently. Lin isn’t great at moving laterally or stopping drives, so if KG can clear out Tyson Chandler there should be plenty of opportunities at the rim for Rondo.
Boston 94, New York 87