Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Game 82: Celtics vs. Knicks
By Greg Payne
at TD Garden, 8 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)
||(55-26, 32-8 home)
||-- vs. --
|| (42-39, 19-21 away)
PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
- 12th Man Auditions: Celtics coach Doc Rivers said following Monday's 95-94 overtime loss to the Wizards that he is still determining which players will earn the final spots on his 12-man active playoff roster, and that Wednesday's game will serve as one final opportunity for the reserves to state their respective cases. For guys like Troy Murphy, Sasha Pavlovic, and even Von Wafer, this game still holds some weight as they seek to be a part of Boston's postseason plans.
- Arroyo's Rhythm: Delonte West re-sprained his right ankle in Monday's loss in Washington, and while he's currently listed as day-to-day, Arroyo might be counted on more than originally anticipated with the postseason looming. If West's health prevents him from playing in the first games of the first round, Arroyo will be the one to log minutes at the backup point guard position. While the minutes will still be sparse because of all the court time Rajon Rondo will log, stability at each position is always important in the playoffs. Arroyo played 30 minutes against Washington on Monday, producing mixed results, but should get a chance for extended time once again Wednesday.
- Don't Expect Defense: Assuming Rivers follows through with his plan to rest the majority of his starters for the second straight game, Wednesday's tilt will once again consist of the bench guys going blow-for-blow in the regular-season finale. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni might follow Rivers' lead and hold out some of his key players (especially since the Knicks played on Tuesday), but the team's philosophy is still very much in play. The Knicks will look to run and score quickly, and don't be shocked if Boston gets caught up in a frantic, defense-free game dictated by New York's pace.
The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks will play at least their next five games against each other, but the first one will look considerably different than the rest.
Both teams may rest starters when they finish the regular season Wednesday night at TD Garden, the same place where they'll open the playoffs this weekend.
"We just have to stay healthy," Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups said Tuesday. "Nothing we can really accomplish tomorrow to be honest with you, just kind of stay healthy. Tomorrow to me is nothing. (In the playoffs) everything will be different, intensity will be different, players will be more focused, it will be a totally different game."
Boston (55-26) is locked into the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Knicks (42-39) are assured of finishing sixth, which means the clubs will square off in the postseason for the first time since 1990.
Coach Mike D'Antoni's plans for Billups and Carmelo Anthony in the finale are unclear. Anthony has been outstanding lately, averaging 30.3 points on 49.0 percent shooting in his last nine games.
While the Knicks can't exactly send a message by beating Boston's reserves, they wouldn't mind avoiding a season-series sweep. The Celtics have won the first three meetings, although they were decided by an average of just 5.3 points.
The Knicks haven't won in Boston since Nov. 24, 2006, losing eight straight there -- seven since the Celtics acquired Garnett and Allen.
Read the full preview HERE.