The Celtics are now on a 4 game losing streak, with no obvious quick fix in sight. The last time we met the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, it was a 102-96 victory with the Captain in full form. Morale right now is low, frustration is deep; can the team put it together at home in the Garden and pull out a win?
Fact: The New York Knickerbockers are at 25-14 this season, top in the Atlantic division.
Game time: 25 Jan 2013, 1200hrs AEDT
Watch on: NBA League Pass
1. Wilcox is cleared to play, but there is no confirmation on whether he will actually see court time.
2. Fab Melo is still not cleared for full contact practice after his recent concussion (walked into a doorway).
3. Raymond Felton (broken pinkie) is still out for this game, likely to return in their next game.
4. Defensive stalwart Iman Shumpert has returned from his rehab and will be playing.
What else would be key? The Knicks are 8th in the league on scoring, and more often than not rely on a few offensive options (largely simplified descriptions):
- Getting the open three ball to their shooters (Kidd, Novak, Melo, Smith, Brewer) through quick perimeter passing.
- Pick and roll plays off Chandler, Stoudamire and Copeland, reduced impact thanks to Felton’s absence – Prigioni is decent, but not explosive the way Felton is.
- One-on-one plays from Smith and Melo.
Playing zone defense (a la the last game matchup) would likely be the safest option on covering the perimeter shooters while minimising mistakes on defensive rotations. The question here is, are the Knicks ready for the Celtics zone defense this time? Expect the Knicks to have a game plan on hand.
The keyword here is energy. Will the Celtics bring their defensive energy throughout four quarters of the game to stifle the Knicks’ offense? A win is sorely needed
Bench. Scoring. Enough said. We need scoring, and I’m looking at the trio of Lee, Green and JET. Lee’s been on the upward trend, but Green and Terry and unfortunately still struggling to find some form of rhythm right now. Nothing is fixed in one game, but I’m hoping they show some positive signs in the game today.
Also, a big question to the Captain and KG: will they be finding their offensive mojo after the recent shooting slump? Pierce seems to have lost the lift in his legs, KG is shooting an unusually poor percentage on his bread and butter mid-range shot. Rondo can and will score, but as we have seen, a 30 point Rondo is not enough to bring us to a win. Everyone needs to chip in, and our star players more so. Rondo is back now, but I’m hoping to see more of the two-man game KG and PP played in the last Knicks showing; forcing the switch on Pierce and allowing KG to post a smaller player could work magic.
A win is sorely needed to bring a change of pace and heart; to show everyone that the Celtics are not totally gone to seed the Lakers are, and that we are still capable of pulling the defensive stops to get a win in good old Celtics fashion, through hardnosed defensive and gritty play.
Will it happen tomorrow though? I’m resigned, but still looking for the silver lining that could shine through anytime. Chin up, and let’s GO CELTICS!