This will be the real test of the Celtics revival: a Rondo-less road game, being well-rested and facing a true contender in the form of Melo and the Knicks.
Bring it on!
Game time: 8 Jan 2013, 1130hrs AEST
Watch on: Good old NBA League Pass
1. Wilcox is still out with his thumb injury (sprained ulnar collateral).
2. Raymond Felton is out with a fractured right finger.
3. Rajon Rondo has been suspended one game for bumping referee Rodney Mott in the Atlanta game. (I was surprised when he didn’t get tech-ed right then. Ah well.)
Melo-stopper: There is no one in the team capable of defending Melo one-on-one in his current state. Not Pierce, not Green (who am I kidding), not Bass. No, not even Rondo (who is absent for this game), even though we’ve seen him try to defend LeBron before.
Melo is strong and quick enough to go against anyone outside and in the post, and should you be smaller or slower, he will be getting his points one way or another – either by bulldozing his way to the basket, or by his extremely quick pullup shot.
Look for double-teams to be used to force Melo off the ball, expect KG’s swarming help defense to be utilised.
Long range: Melo, Novak, Smith, Brewer, even Copeland. And not forgetting our favourite: SHEEEEEEEED. The 3 ball is an extremely important weapon in this Knicks team, and getting out there to deny the open shot is crucial.
Pick-and-roll defense: STAT is finally back, and while he is not in 100% game shape, he can still roll and finish with ease. Coming off the bench with Prigioni manning the ball, be prepared to see more of this being shoved our way today.
A good win in New York will cement the streak and give everyone confidence that the C’s are well and truly back. Rondo’s absence from this game will be tough, but count in the fact that Pierce always plays well in the Garden, so expect him to have a good showing too.
What are your points for the game?