Game 2: Knicks-Celtics’ Changes Afoot

a

NEW YORK – They say that every game in a playoff series has its own personality. And a couple of rotation changes should give Game 2 of the Knicks-Celtics’ series (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, TNT) a new look.

The Knicks hope to have Pablo Prigioni back from a sprained ankle for Game 2. And if they do, he will start and join Raymond Felton in the backcourt. The Knicks went 15-1 with the two point guards starting together in the final month of the regular season.

The Knicks have been incredibly efficient offensively, scoring almost 120 points per 100 possessions in 298 minutes, with Felton and Prigioni on the floor together. And after a game in which they scored 85 points on 88 possessions, they could certainly use an offensive boost. After assisting on just 13 of their 32 buckets in Game 1, the team hopes that Prigioni will bring better ball movement.

But the lineup change could have an adverse effect on the other end of the floor. Woodson said Sunday that if Prigioni is back, Felton will guard Paul Pierce to start the game (the original plan had Prigioni been healthy in Game 1), with Iman Shumpert defending Jeff Green.

Shumpert was guarding Pierce to start Game 1, and the Celtics posted Pierce on three of the first four possessions. When the Knicks doubled the post, the Celtics got a jumper for Kevin Garnett and a layup for Avery Bradley.

Mismatches on Pierce were a big part of the Celtics’ offense all day Saturday. Later in the first quarter, they ran the same play several times to get J.R. Smith switched onto Pierce at the foul line. And they had some more success with Pierce posting Jason Kidd on a few possessions midway through the second.

With their lineup change, the Knicks will be handing the Celtics a mismatch from the start. And Boston will obviously go to Pierce in the post early and often. New York will send double-teams, and it will be up to Pierce’s teammates to make them pay.

Green was a pretty good corner 3-point shooter (45.7 percent) in the regular season, but didn’t attempt any shots from the corners on Saturday. As a team, Boston was just 1-for-5 from the corners, an obvious area for improvement in Game 2.

***

Doc Rivers plans on making some rotation changes of his own. He went only eight deep in Game 1, using just three guards — Jordan Crawford, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry — off the bench. The trio combined to shoot 0-for-7.

Rivers said Sunday that we could see a big man off the bench — presumably Chris Wilcox or Shavlik Randolph — on Tuesday. If it’s Wilcox, it will be the first playoff appearance of his 11-year career.

We’ll have to see if that results in less minutes for Brandon Bass or if Rivers plans on playing with two bigs more than he did in Game 1. The Celtics were a plus-1 (and particularly strong on the defensive glass) in 21 minutes with both Bass and Garnett on the floor on Saturday, and a minus-8 in 27 minutes with one of the two on the bench.

The Celtics weren’t very good defensively, allowing 104.7 points per 100 possessions, in 396 regular season minutes with Bass and Wilcox on the floor together. And the Garnett-Wilcox pair played just 73 minutes.

***

Rivers also wants to see a bigger role for Crawford. Amazingly, Crawford didn’t take a single shot in his 10:46 on Saturday. And it surely goes without saying that it was the first time in the gunner’s career that he’s played at least 10 minutes without taking a shot.

The Celtics probably don’t want to get to the point where Crawford’s shooting determines the outcome of any particular game, but he can help make the Knicks pay for double-teams on Pierce if he’s aggressive and looking to make plays for his teammates as well as himself. He can also take some of the ball-handling duties from Bradley.

17 Comments

  1. Valuable info. Fortunate me I found your web site accidentally, and I’m shocked why this coincidence did not happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

  2. Idealthereal says:

    The Knicks played a celtics type of game and still won. Being that they’re a strong home court team (31-10) and a good road team (23-18, including wins against exceptional home teams such as the heat,thunder, and spurs), I don’t see this series going past 5. The Knicks are too deep and too talented for an aging and decrepit celtics team.

  3. derrick says:

    jason terry is the c’s major problem, i cant accept a 0 point performance from him in a playoff in aprox 20 mins.

    • Feez says:

      Terry is not making his shots, but i really dont have a problem with him doing.. Ray allen used to do that. great shooters go through slump . though with Terry’s i am starting to get impatient. But shooters will keep shooting and most times make the important shots. I am sure terry will win one game for us… Arguably one of the best shooters in the clutch.. Lets be patient, the series just started

      • steagle says:

        If Terry is in a slump, then it’s been for the entire regular season too. He’s shooting career lows and has had several key turnovers in late season games. I would much rather go to Green for clutch plays. He can make his own shot, take defenders off the dribble and draw fouls. Terry should keep shooting 3’s when available, he’s bound to hit them eventually. But because of his performance all year I couldn’t entrust him to take the final shot in any close game.

  4. GO GET IT MY CELTS!!!
    CELTICS-HORAAH-UBUNTU!!!

  5. gerald martin says:

    i just think if the knicks could run the game would bo over early. the celtics just looked tired

    • Lukas says:

      I fully agree with Gerald. In addition … Throughout the game 1 in MSG, I have seen lots of failures, lots of “empty moves”, and other weird, unexplained habits in the Celtics team. While Knickerbockers basketball grew up tremendously, since tragic past years, especially during I.Thomas management policy.

      What I see now through these teams:

      Knicks: mentally strong,

      – Melo: scoring leader,
      – JR: best sixth man off the bench,
      – Strong tall guys x 2 [ rebs, layups, blocks .. ],
      – wide range of 3 shooters with some few obvious exceptions,
      – add technique, wisdom & deep experience given by Kidd,
      – reliable clutch time claimers,
      – soul, will-to-win & will-to-prove,

      I peronally think, that the Knicks [ and only them ], could even plan to somehow compete the Heat.

      Celtics: a bit tired due to lost hopes, [ injuries! ]

      – KG is an team-engine, however turned to task-making-machine,
      – Rondo’s absence makes a significant impact on the whole team ball movements from coast-to-coast,
      – Truth is an experienced warrior, who knows extremely well, how to act in every single second of the game, but without enough sharp sword [ Rondo here again ],
      – Green & co, are doing their best, but without fourth wheel, without strong belief in win, what can they do more?

      Knicks in 5 [ maybe 6 .. maybe ].

      B.regards

  6. Celts 13 says:

    Only 8 players in the rotation… 4 Free throws by C. Lee are only points made by bench… Starters have to play longer minutes in 4th because bench is doing squat, which contributes to fatigue which translates to poor offense and turnovers.

    It’s upsetting to see a game end this way, especially when the Cs were in control for most of the first 3 quarters.

    • Feez says:

      Sure you are right , that was a dissapointing game, bad decision making towards the end of the game.. We were in control most of the game. offense was good, defense was terrrific, most of Melos made shot were wide open and the ones not wide open were guarded well. i mean we had Jr and melo shooting low % , played great defense and still lost.. We put ourselves there and i am sure KG, Pierce and Our bench will be back for redemption tonight, wont be as easy as Game 1 but i have confidence in this team and this team will take game 2 on the road

  7. theholyspectator says:

    celtics and lakers are “championship” teams, at least that’s the type of category those teams supposedly belong in based on their history….your honestly tellin me they will win a title in the next 3-4 seasons? dont see that happening…all dynasties come to an end..what goes up must come down..boston hasnt won one since 2008 and lakers havent won one since 09? even with all their key players healthy and ready to go, your forgetting that those players do age and get older, pierce and garnett are way past their prime, those dudes are done, rondo and green is just not enough..as far as la goes, dwight is still a child playin in a grown mans game..pau is on the decline..kobe has a year left on his deal and who knows how he will be after this injury hes now dealing with…d-12 is not mentally prepared to lead himself and his team to a title..so as i stated they are on the downhill and will take super major talent to bring those teams back into the nba finals…..good day

    • Feez says:

      You are right, those players are past their prime but players like pierce and Kobe can still ball and still better than most players in the league.. heck pierce, kobe and Kg still fall in top 30 active players. so you are telling with addition of other stars or role players they cant contend?.. not saying they will win the next 3 or 4 years. but these teams dont just lose like that. They will make the playoffs most of the time and could possibly beat any team. Looking back at last year, everyone said Miami will Steam roll the C’s . We had a chance to win it, but hey our bench last year was trash. alot of factors could be considered. But i am not arguing the fact that the celtics or lakers might not win a championship for the next few years, what i am arguing is the fact that you said they ll become losing teams. i just dont see that happening especially with the celtics .. RONDO, BRADLEY, SULLINGER AND GREEN, PLUS A VET LIKE PIERCE AND DOC RIVER, PLUS THE EASTERN CONFERENCE IS MAD WEAK..

      And i agree with everything you said about D12, way to put it …

  8. holyspectator says:

    knicks in 5 …first the decline and flop of lakers and now boston celtics…its been a good run for these ball clubs, now come the dark years of losing, losing and some more losing..someday theyll be able to get some superstars who can compete, but until then RIP lakers & celtics.

    • oli says:

      you’re wrong… Lakers and Celtics rarely are mediocre… a lot of good players want to play for these clubs … also their management do a good job of attracting good players.. so automatically these club are medium teams for few years and quickly get back on top…

      • feez says:

        Dude @holyspectator. That just doesnt sound right .. Celtics, Lakers — Losing? Teams that dont have their best players due to injury and still 7th seeds in the playoffs. You have Jeff Green emerging as a star, you have Rondo and sullinger coming back. Paul pierce is still playing pretty damn good basketball. Throw a star big man in the mix with them and tell me they cant WIN. And i havent mentioned young promising bench players like courtney and jordan crawford. Your basketball I.Q is more like Zero. Celtics can still win without KG, Terry and Even Pierce – Not to disrespect any of thoe future Hall of famers but with RONDO, BRADLEY AND JEFF GREEN TOGETHER YOU CAN THROW IN OTHER PIECES AND MAKE A GREAT TEAM. And the Lakers can do same with especially have Dwight Howard, young guys like Jodie meeks and Earl Clark. Those are Two Elite Teams that finds a way to get things done and Championships dont lie, CELTICS -17 LAKERS -16.

        NOW SHUT UP PLEASE

  9. bu says:

    Like another article says, coach of the year is determined not only by the wins but what the coach did to pull thru the team facing adversity. Look at Doc, Thib, Karl, McHale, …. even Carlisle. For Doc & Thib, they could’ve just folded but they didn’t & milk the best out of the team. Great job coaches!