Knicks Look to Bounce Back After Loss; Game 2 Preview
Boston Celtics Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Jermaine O’Neal
Key Reserves: F Jeff Green, G Delonte West, F Glen Davis, C Nenad Krstic
Key Injuries: Shaquille O’Neal
After a heart-breaking loss on Sunday night, the New York Knicks will be looking to tie the series with a win in Game 2. The Knicks fell to the Celtics,87-85, in Game 1, and in tonight’s game New York will be without Chauncey Billups. Billups is battling a leg injury, so Toney Douglas will have to fill the void in the starting lineup. Although Douglas has played well this season, the Knicks need a veteran point guard who is accustomed to playing in big games.
Throughout Game 1, Billups set up teammates at the right position and he was able to hit shots when the team needed it most. However, that responsibility will now fall in the hands of Toney Douglas. Tonight’s game will be Douglas’ second career playoff game, and it will interesting to see how he reacts to the pressure.
Douglas’ match-up against Rajon Rondo will present many problems, and he has to thwart Rondo from penetrating to the hoop. However, unlike Billups, Douglas can use his speed to guard Rondo and he can force the Celtics to play a up-tempo style of play.
The Knicks were only one shot away from winning Game 1, but the team needs a better performance from Carmelo Anthony in order to tie the series. In the fourth quarter of Game 1, Anthony shot 1-7 from the field and threw up an ill-advised shot in the final possession of the game. Instead of giving the ball to Amar’e Stoudemire, who was having his way with the Celtics, the Knicks decided to give the ball to Anthony to close the game. In order to beat Boston tonight, the Knicks must allow the player who has the hot hand to shoot the ball. If Stoudemire is connecting with his shots, the coaching staff must make the right decision and allow him to take the final shot.
The Knicks’ bench must perform well tonight if they want a shot at winning. In Game 1, the Knicks’ reserves out played the Celtics bench, and that type of effort must carry over to tonight’s game. The Knicks’ bench is much more athletic than Boston’s, so they must exploit their opponent’s weaknesses.
It will not be surprising to see another close finish to this game, so the Knicks must make correct plays in the final minutes. In Game 1, the Knicks committed careless turnovers and they were not trusting the offense that got them to that point. In addition, the Knicks must not overreact to the Celtics’ runs and they cannot let Boston dictate the tempo of the game. The Knicks can put themselves in the best position to win by controlling the style the game and matching the Celtics’ effort and energy.
The Boston Celtics have momentum on their side and they will be extremely motivated in sweeping both games on their home court. Rajon Rondo is the floor general for the team, and has a penchant for attacking the basket and finding his teammates for open shots. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are the team’s go-to-men, and they can create their own shots off the dribble. As for Kevin Garnett, he is the emotional leader of the team and the defensive anchor. The Knicks must be careful when attacking the basket, as Garnett will be looking to block every shot that comes in his way.
Three Keys to a Knicks Game 2 Victory:
1. Match the Celtics effort and focus
2. Make smart decisions late in the game
3. Carmelo must attack the rim and play “bully-ball”
Featured Image courtesy of: NJ.com
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