Round 1, Game 2: Celtics vs. Knicks
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PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- No Billups, no problem?: Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups will likely sit out of Tuesday's game after suffering a left knee strain in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and second-year guard Toney Douglas will, in all likelihood, step into a starting role. Losing Billups will remove both veteran poise and a sizable offensive weapon from the Knicks' lineup, but Douglas showed in Game 1 that he's not afraid of the spotlight when he buried a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to give New York a 3-point lead at the time. Overall, Douglas finished with eight points, two assists, and zero turnovers in 26 minutes in New York's Game 1 loss.
- Adjustments Needed: The Celtics need a better effort defensively in the first half of Game 2 after they allowed the Knicks to shoot 54.3 percent in the opening two quarters of Sunday's Game 1 and got down by as many as 12 points in the process. In addition, Boston desperately needs to cut back on turnovers, as the C's finished Game 1 with 18 total, which the Knicks gladly turned into 26 points.
- Bench Brigade: With the playoffs in full swing, Celtics coach Doc Rivers will likely increase the minutes of his starters and tighten his rotation to eight or nine players. While the majority of Boston's bench won't see action, the players off the pine that do will need to contribute. The four reserves that played in Game 1 -- Delonte West, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and Glen Davis -- combined for just eight points and shot a combined 4-of-15 (thanks in large part to Davis going 1-for-8). Boston will be banking on a better offensive effort from Green in particular, who finished with four points and zero rebounds in Game 1. As Paul Pierce said before the Celtics' practice on Monday, Green can get four points and zero rebounds "in his sleep."
Toney Douglas played well when he replaced an injured Chauncey Billups during the regular season.
There's much more at stake now.
In only his third season, Douglas said he's prepared if, as expected, Billups, the 13-year veteran point guard, misses Tuesday night's Game 2 of the New York Knicks' first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics with a sore left knee.
Billups is "very questionable," coach Mike D'Antoni said Monday.
If he is out, it will be up to Douglas to direct an offense led by Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
"I'm ready," Douglas said Monday. "The hardest part is getting my body ready for that situation."
Billups was hurt late in Boston's 87-85 victory Sunday night when his leg "buckled on me." He limped off the court with 51 seconds left and didn't return.
"It's really sore" he said after watching practice in street clothes. "At this point in the season, this is the worst thing that could possibly happen, getting hurt in the first game of a tough series. I know my team needs me and it's just frustrating."
D'Antoni said it's much more likely that Billups will play at home Friday in Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers sees a possible trap for his team if Billups is sidelined.
"If you take someone lightly in the playoffs, then shame on you," he said. "Douglas has had a terrific year. (The Knicks) went on a winning streak when Douglas was playing and Chauncey was out. But I don't think that'll affect the way we approach the game. We just have to worry about us."
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