Kevin Garnett is the defensive anchor of the Boston Celtics. Simply put, when he’s on the court, they’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, with a defensive efficiency of 96.2. When he’s not, they are one of the worst, giving up a staggering 104.2 point per 100 possessions.
The Knicks will need to pull Garnett away from the basket in order to get open looks. Expect Tyson Chandler to be heavily involved in pick-and-roll action if Garnett is guarding him. KG is one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in the league, but pulling him away from the middle will open a lot of space. As Chandler rolls hard to the hoop, expect Garnett to ‘show out’ on the ball handler while the primary defender recovers from the screen. Chandler’s roll will force the Celtics defense to bend behind Garnett, leading to open corner three-pointers. If the Knicks continue making the extra pass in these situations, they’ll end up with a lot of open looks from behind the arc.
Avery Bradley will also disrupt pick-and-rolls, so look for New York to use alternate tandems such as Anthony-Chandler or Kidd-Chandler in these pick-and-rolls. It will be up to Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, and Raymond Felton to convert when the ball finds its way into their hands. More than any other matchup, the way the Knicks attack Garnett in pick-and-roll sets could determine the outcome of the series.
On offense, Garnett prefers to space the floor, setting a series of screens for the Boston wings, and then popping to the wing for an 18-footer. One key thing to note will be Garnett's ability to pull Chandler away from the basket. As good as Chandler is on defense -- and in defending pick-and-rolls, in particular -- it always hurts to have him playing outside the paint. This could leave the Knicks vulnerable to backdoor cuts, and baseline drives. Whoever the other big man is for the Knicks -- be it Anthony, Martin, or Copeland -- they'll have to rotate to the middle if they see Chandler get hung up at the top of the key on a screen.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images