Sometimes numbers and advanced stats don’t tell the whole truth, but in this case it’s pretty clear: The Knicks' defense has dominated the second half. These are the combined half splits for Boston in the first two games:
First Half: 54.2% FG, 8-20, 40.0% 3PT, 15-18 FTs, 101 combined points
Second Half: 22.2% FG, 2-19, 10.5% 3PT, 18-19 FTs, 48 combined points
Somewhat surprisingly, the Celtics have taken just as many three-pointers and have gotten to the charity stripe just as often in each half. Digging a little deeper, it becomes clear that the Celtics have stopped getting to, and converting, at the rim after halftime.
In the first halves of Games One and Two, the Celtics converted 17 of 28 opportunities within five feet of the rim, good for 60.7%. In the second half, however, they’ve made just seven of 19 attempts near the rim, only 36.8%.
Boston has also gone completely cold from beyond the arc in the second half, hitting two of 19 attempts from deep compared to eight of 20 in the first half.
As Doc Rivers plays with his lineup combinations, expect the Celtics to attack the paint in spread formations. Boston relied so heavily on long two-point jumpers throughout the entire regular season, but the only, albeit mild, success they had against the Knicks defense was in the drive-and-kick game.