Knicks vs Celtics: TNT 8pm
The Knicks are going into Boston tonight looking to kill off some old ghosts. They are looking to kill “The Ghosts” of the five time consecutive Atlantic Division champions, the “Ghosts of Honey Nut Cheerios” and finally… the ghost of 11 straights losses in Boston. At this moment, the Knicks sit a half game up on the number 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and first place in the Atlantic Division over the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have won 12 of 14 since installing PJ Carlesimo as Head Coach including beating the Knicks at home, 88-85. The Celtics are losers of four in a row and are looking to reconfirm their dominance over New York. The Knicks must be ready mentally. They must be ready for the chants from Boston fans, they must be ready for the in your face defense of Rondo, Garnett and Bradley. They must keep their cool.
The book is out on the Knicks, you beat them with full court pressure in order to take them out of an offensive flow. You body up Melo to frustrate him, you win the battle of the boards by knocking Tyson Chandler around. Let’s face it, the Knicks are hot heads. We need more maturity from Chandler, Smith, and Melo in order to win.
In Game 1 of the series, Carmelo lost his mind due to his combination of bad shooting and the mental war with KG. As the game wore on, his frustration worsened to the point where he let Garnett take him over the edge. He was switching on purpose in order to defend Garnett in the post, instead of letting Tyson do his job. Carmelo was selfish and it cost the Knicks a big game. This cannot happen tonight, the Knicks need to win this game badly. They are 6-7 in their last 13 games and they are about to lose their Number 2 seeding, even worse, the Nets , Bulls and Pacers are all waiting to knock the Knicks out of home court advantage as the Knicks sit just one game above the Number 5 seed!
The numbers don’t lie, based on Synergy Sports Stats, the Celtics killed the Knicks in isolation and in spot up shooting. These areas for the Knicks are weaknesses due to their propensity for switching and not rotating quickly enough to spot up shooters. The Celtics shot 54% in isolation which accounted for 16.5% of their offense. They also shot 54% spotting up which also accounted for 15.4% of their offense.
The Celtics also took away the Knicks offensive strengths. They defended the pick and roll extremely well. The Pick and Roll ball handler accounted for 17.8% of the offense and shot just 18% from the field! This was also exacerbated by the amazing defense of Avery Bradley and the lack of penetration from Jason Kidd and the loss of Ray Felton. Even worse, they forced the Knicks into tough isolation shots. The Knicks shot just 26.7% from the field in isolation. These low numbers are due to the in your face aggressive Boston defense, they came ready to play and they rarely switched. The Knicks must play the same way.
If the Knicks play defense and go back to sharing the ball and not playing hero ball, they will come away with the win. The Knicks have to go on a run and it needs to start tonight. There is no reason with Felton’s return on Saturday in Philly that the Knicks can’t go 13-2 over their next 15 in order to create some space atop of the Atlantic, but it starts with composure, defense and unselfishness in Boston. GO KNICKS!