By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Celtics | Madison Square Garden
When: Tuesday | 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
Knicksnow Live In-Game Chat
New York: The Knicks shot 40.5 percent from the field in Game 1 and scored only 85 points -- 15 below their season average. That they were able to come away with the win is equal parts encouraging for them and potentially backbreaking for the Celtics, whose margin for error is just not that great. Despite some defensive lapses in the first half and an offense that skewed towards more isolation than usual, Carmelo Anthony sizzled often enough, early and late, to net him 36 points and the home team a crucial 1-0 lead in the series
They played without Pablo Prigioni, but that could change tonight, as he is listed as probable. Chris Copeland started Game 1 in his place and mostly struggled, as you might expect from a rookie making his first playoff appearance. Also of note: Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler both returned to the lineup after missing time at the end of the regular season. Chandler started, but it was K-Mart who played, and made a significant impact down the stretch of Game 1.
Boston: Doc Rivers said after the Celtics' Game 1 loss that if you had told him they'd hold the Knicks to 40% shooting and 85 points, he'd have been optimistic about his team's chances. While it's a solid line of thinking, it's pretty clear his team needs more than a subpar performance from the Knicks for the game to go their way. They needed a complete effort, and instead they got a mere four (4) points from their bench and committed 20 turnovers as a team.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks held the Celtics to 25 second-half points, the fewest in their playoff history.
Matchup to Watch
Raymond Felton vs. Paul Pierce
This matchup will be fascinating for two reasons: 1) It would mean Pablo Prigioni is back in the starting lineup and 2) It means, you know, that we'll see Raymond Felton slide over to guard Paul Pierce. Pierce, a natural 3, has shifted to the Celtics' starting shooting guard in an effort to share some of the facilitating duties they lost when Rajon Rondo went down.
The Knicks' thinking, it seems, is that they know they'll need to help on Pierce, so why not let Felton, who is strong for a point guard, bother Pierce and bring help, rather than let a guy like Iman Shumpert waste so much energy trying to keep up with Boston's go-to scorer. Asked for the advice he'd give to Felton if this materializes, Woodson said: "He's got to be tough."
What to Look For
Neither team seemed satisfied with its offensive output in Game 1, so both have spoken in the time since about playing with a faster tempo. Nearly every team talks about wanting to run more, so we'll see if that actually happens. What's clear is that both teams need to be smarter with their passing, as we discussed in the link above. The Knicks can make life much easier on themselves by simply finding open men and moving the ball so that Melo and J.R. Smith see more space, and the Celtics need to find some way to generate ball and player movement in spite of their dearth of pure point guard talent.
Prigioni's return will also be worth tracking, as will Woodson's rotation, as a result. Copeland could go from starting to limited minutes, although his size could work in his favor against the Celts' jumbo lineup. Expect J.R. Smith, fresh off his Sixth Man of the Year Award, to continue to put the pressure on Boston by attacking the paint and making the refs blow the whisle.