Watch It! - Knicks at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
A Motivated Group
Mike Woodson may not admit it publicly, but it has seemed as if he hasn't been able to motivate this Knicks group. New York has lacked passion, energy and heart throughout the season.
Woodson shouldn’t have to do much to motivate his players for tonight's game. If they’re true competitors, they’ll be motivated by Sunday’s blowout loss to Boston.
The Celtics walked into Madison Square Garden and obliterated the Knicks by 41 points. That margin of victory is the largest in the NBA this season. New York was booed by its fans as early as the first quarter and those boos grew louder as the game progressed.
Carmelo Anthony termed the loss an “embarrassment.” He and the Knicks should have the juices flowing tonight as they attempt to redeem themselves.
Break Their Will
There is no doubt that the Knicks are in a fragile state of mind. Their coach is said to be on the hot seat, media says that Anthony can’t win, and the team oftentimes looks dysfunctional on the court. Things can go badly – very badly – for them, as we saw on Sunday.
Boston opened up Sunday’s contest with a 12-0 run and led by as many as 25 points in the opening quarter. New York basically quit from that point on, allowing the Celtics to cruise to their dominant victory.
It’s not realistic to expect a similar result tonight. However, Boston learned how easy it is to break New York’s will, and it can use that knowledge to its advantage tonight.
Melo’s Green Kryptonite?
Seeing the color green may be Anthony’s kryptonite. The All-Star forward and reigning NBA scoring champion has struggled mightily against Boston over the past two seasons and those struggles continued on Sunday.
Anthony shot 33.3 percent from the field against Boston on Sunday, making just five of his team-high 15 shots. How rare is a performance like that? Anthony shot 56.5 percent from the field in his four other most recent contests.
Boston has what may be the best trio of players in the league to defend Anthony. Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace and Brandon Bass all possess the size, length and athleticism to slow him down.
A Big Bass Problem
Jordan Crawford is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Jeff Green has averaged 20.0 points per game over his past 12 contests. Brandon Bass, however, may be having the best month of any Celtic.
Bass has nearly averaged a double-double in five games this month. He has averaged 15.2 PPG and 9.6 RPG in five December games, all while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and blocking 1.6 shots a night. That, my friends, is production!
Boston’s starting power forward had a very solid game against the Knicks on Sunday. He dropped in 16 points, hauled in eight rebounds and grabbed three steals. New York’s defenders couldn’t stay in front of Bass, as he attempted a team-high nine free throws, eight of which fell through the basket.
Bass is playing very good basketball right now and the Knicks may not have any defensive options to stop him.
The Celtics used two forms of starting dominance against the Knicks on Sunday. First, they dominated the start of the game. Second, their starters simply overwhelmed the Knicks.
Boston led 34-11 after the first quarter thanks to out-shooting New York by 32.5 percent from the field. The C’s made 54.5 percent of their shots while limiting the Knicks to 22.2 percent shooting. Boston also didn’t commit a turnover in the first quarter while scoring 12 points in the paint.
By the time the game was over, the splits between each team’s starters were astounding. All five Celtics starters scored at least 13 points, while the Knicks’ starting five totaled just 29 points. All of Boston’s starters finished with at least a plus-31 in the plus/minus category, while all of New York’s starters finished with a least a minus-29 in that category.
Was this a one-day trend, or a matter of the Knicks’ starting crew not being able to handle Boston’s? We should know the answer to that question by the end of the night.