Pre-Game News and Notes
Knicks vs Celtics
The Knicks and Celtics will play for the second time this season with both teams stuck in a quagmire looking to turn things around. The Knicks have struggled since Raymond Felton went down with an injury and the Celtics have lost four games in a row. Tonight will be a playoff intensity-type game as the teams are rivals and don’t like each other; case in point being Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett. That is just one of the many things to keep an eye on tonight.
-Potential Rotation Changes
The injury bug has hit the Knicks hard recently, as Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace in addition to Felton will not be available tonight. Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire have returned to the lineup, but there is now another Knick dealing with an injury and their status for tonight’s game is up in the air.
That player would be backup point guard Pablo Prigioni, who is dealing with a toe injury and is officially questionable for the game. If he sits out tonight it will be a major blow for the Knicks who are already dangerously thin at the point guard position.
If Prigioni indeed cannot go tonight, the onus will fall upon Jason Kidd to run the team and be the only point guard available for the game. That is not something the Knicks want, as the offense needs to be running as efficiently as possible tonight against the Celtics and have no backup would be disastrous.
If Prigioni cannot go, the point guard duties will most likely fall upon J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to take some pressure off Kidd. Anthony would also find himself being asked to facilitate more as well, as he has the ball in his hands a majority of the time already.
-Match the Celtics Intensity
The crowd will be going crazy tonight as the Celtics will look to end their losing streak, which in turn should have their players fired up to go; the Knicks players will have to match that intensity from the start if they stand any chance of leaving Boston with a victory.
A thing to keep an eye on is if there is any carryover from the last meeting, when Anthony and Garnett jawed with each other constantly in the fourth quarter and Melo struggled in the game as Garnett did what he does best and got Anthony off his game.
Anthony says there is no bad blood between him and Garnett but it is definitely something to keep an eye on as they will most likely be matched up at some point in the game. Anthony will need to have not only a high intensity level up some thick skin, as the Celtics crowd will let him hear it right from the opening tip if they don’t start before during warm-ups.
-Slow Down Rondo
In the first meeting the Knicks caught a break in Rajon Rondo being suspended; ultimately it did not matter as the Knicks still lost to the Celtics. This time around, the Knicks will not be as lucky as Rondo will be in the lineup.
It will be interesting to see how Mike Woodson sets up his assignments, as Shumpert is now in the lineup and is touted as the Knicks best defender. Against the Nets Shumpert guarded shooting guard Joe Johnson while Kidd guarded point guard Deron Williams and did a good job.
I would expect that to be changed this time around as the dynamic Rondo would run circles around Kidd. Woodson will most likely take his chances on Kidd guarding Jason Terry in the start and let Shumpert do his thing on Rondo.