Tuesday, April 23, 2013
W2W4: Knicks vs. Celtics, Game 2
By Jared Zwerling
Carmelo Anthony calls Game 2 a must-win, adding, "We don't want to go back to Boston 1-1." The Celtics were just 14-27 on the road in the regular season but a solid 27-13 at home.
Here are three things the Knicks need to do Tuesday (8 p.m.) to take a 2-0 series lead:
1. More ball movement. The offense slowed at times in Game 1; Mike Woodson said the Knicks missed Pablo Prigioni, who sat out with a sprained ankle. (He is probable for Game 2.) The ball remained on the strong side too often, in Anthony's hands. The Celtics contested 19 of Melo's 29 field goal attempts, and he had to work extra hard to get his 36 points. In addition, the Knicks shot only 36 percent from 3-point range.
With Prigioni, Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert on the court, the Knicks can establish more kickout opportunities because all three players can attack lanes off pick-and-rolls. The extra penetration from different angles could force the Celtics to scramble more. But the Celtics like to pack the paint, so when the Knicks' guards drive baseline, their 3-point-shooting teammates need to be squared up in the corners.
Could sharpshooters Steve Novak and Chris Copeland play more? They logged a combined 18 minutes Saturday. While they're weaker defensively, they could be called upon to throw off the Celtics' defense. The pressure to stay up on Novak and Copeland, who have exceptionally quick releases, could create more spacing.
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2. Control tempo. While the Celtics are at a big loss without their one-man fast break, Rajon Rondo, the Knicks have a deeper offensive and defensive presence in the backcourt. Prigioni, Felton, Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd can all facilitate breakaways off backcourt steals and defensive rebounds. On Monday, Shumpert talked about the importance of pushing the pace against the Celtics' bigger lineups.
"We want to get out, we want to pressure early, we want to pressure them full court. ... Make sure we run the shot clock down on them and force them to take tough shots, and when they take tough shots and we get rebounds, we've got to run," he said.
3. Individual defensive stops are key. It all starts with Felton on Paul Pierce and Shumpert on Jeff Green (if Prigioni plays). While Felton and Shumpert will be challenged, they need to be as aggressive as possible with the Celtics -- make their catches difficult, force them baseline, fight through screens.
Tyson Chandler will need to be communicative and provide pressure behind Felton and Shumpert. Kevin Garnett is a load to deal with in pick-and-rolls because of his toughness and ability to step out and shoot.
Speaking of Garnett, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he is preparing to give Garnett more touches. Could that be a verbal decoy or truth? Either way, Garnett will be ready to go. But will Chandler? His conditioning was down in Game 1, playing only 20 minutes. The Knicks have Kenyon Martin as insurance off the bench.