Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Notes on Knicks-Celtics tonight

I'm going to do a different type of preview tonight in lieu of the normal "What to watch" previews.

By my count, the Knicks have won just one game against Boston in their last 12 - this year's season-opener. They were swept in last year's season series (I believe. I'm too lazy to look it up, so correct me if I'm wrong on that), swept in the playoffs, and are 1-2 this year. This year especially, the Knicks have found some heartbreaking, grueling ways to drop games to the Celtics. In the two losses, the Knicks had exceptional leads and then blew them in the second half, either losing late in the 4th, or losing control of the game, going to overtime, and then just losing.

However, those were Mike D'Antoni teams, and this Mike Woodson team is different. The Boston Celtics (much like the Miami Heat, get up to play the Knicks, and will undoubtedly be ready tonight. Boston's on a hot streak, but the Knicks have the weapons to beat Boston if they utilize them properly.

 - Use size! The Celtics play a lineup of Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Greg Stiemsma up front. Between Tyson Chandler, Jared Jeffries, and (I hope) Josh Harrellson, the Knicks can out-rebound and keep the Celtics out of the paint and off the boards.

 - The Celtics are a terrific perimeter defensive team. That means guys like Steve Novak, J.R. Smith, and Carmelo Anthony aren't going to just get easy looks. The Knicks will need to play good inside-outside ball and get good penetration in the paint in order to get clean looks on the perimeter.

 - Get out in transition! The Celtics are a pretty old team, and the more the Knicks make guys like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Garnett hustle down the floor, the less energy they'll have to expend breaking our hearts. Baron Daivs probably isn't healthy enough to play with a lot of speed, but guys like Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, and J.R. Smith can all handle the ball in the open court, and they should look to push often.

 On the injury front:
  • Tyson Chandler is going to play tonight, despite some soreness in that knee he banged in Sunday's game. 
  • Baron Davis will also play tonight.
  • Ray Allen possibly out...? Haven't seen it anywhere else though....

Mike Woodson on the idea of playing Toney Douglas:
"I gotta start thinking about Toney, based on changing the dynamic of the game, the speed of things. Our pace was SO slow v. MIA."
 Woodson on Toney Douglas playing tonight: "Possibly."
This would be the second full go-around where Woodson experimented with Mike Bibby, went to Douglas, failed, went to Bibby, and now possibly back to Douglas. Goddammit I miss Jeremy Lin.

Game is at 8 on TNT. If the Knicks win, they still have a shot at the division title, or at least the 6th seed. Tonight is important. For the love of God, no game-winners from the Big 3, and no ridiculous triple-doubles from Rajon Rondo. Go Knicks!

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