Here we are entering Game 3 of the first round series and the assumption can be made that both coaches are still searching for a complete game from their squads. This is especially true for the Celtics as they will have to climb out of a 2-0 hole to force the series back to NYC.
In games 1 and 2, Boston walked into the locker room with a lead but failed to capitalize in what could be deemed as historically bad second halves. The Celtics combined to score 101 points in the first halves of Game 1 and 2 compared to an abysmal 48 points in the final 24 minutes of each contest.
From an X’s and O’s standpoint, Boston will most likely turn to its veteran playmakers in the first 3-5 minutes of the third quarter to generate some early offense. Kevin Garnett was regulated to six points in the second half of Game 2 due to foul trouble. Paul Pierce only posted eight points, which is simply not enough firepower for a team without a deep bench.
Head coach Doc Rivers thought his team gave up 2-3 shots from downtown that turned the tide in the third quarter. He will certainly instruct his crew to run shooters off the 3-point line and force some turnovers to generate transition points. In the first half of Game 2, Boston was strong in the fast break game and that propelled them to a six-point lead.
Rivers also discussed the need to match the Knicks’ energy in the third frame. His team should receive a big boost returning to TD Garden in front of a crowd salivating for a chance to see the third game in this rivalry series.
“I thought their intensity, I thought they upped it. Again, I though we attacked them in the first half but they hung in there, they didn’t let us throw a knock out punch and I thought in the second half, they turned that on us and they threw a knock out punch. You know, several,” Rivers admitted.
One man on New York’s bench that played an integral role in the second half domination was Kenyon Martin. As Tyson Chandler continues to regain his stamina, Martin played 12 minutes in the second half of Game 2 and registered seven rebounds and four blocks. His aggressive approach must travel to Boston.
Martin spoke about the stark contrast in the Knicks defensive performances in the second halves. “We were not helping one another – not talking. It was the same things as in Game 1. We have to talk and help one another. I have to get back on D; I wasn’t talking in transition, little things like that. That’s correctible.”
The Knicks want to duplicate what they accomplished in the second halves. The Celtics want to mirror their offensive execution from their first halves. The question is: Which team will put together the complete game?