New York Knicks (0-1) at Boston Celtics (1-0)
Round 1 Game 2
Tuesday, April 19
7:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #2, Home Game #2
TV: TNT, CSN-NE, MSG, TSN
Referees: Joe Crawford, Bennett Salvatore, Michael Smith The Celtics enter this game up 1-0 because of a last second Ray Allen three. That's the way you want to sneak out road wins and not the way to win at home. After a very sluggish start, they finally flipped the switch in the second half and played unselfishly on offense and clamped down on defense. Hopefully the switch is still on and the Celtics will get off to a strong start in this one.
There are some question marks to begin this game. First, Chauncey Billups went out at the end of game 1 and is listed as questionable for this game. After practice on Monday, Doc said they are preparing two game plans: one for if Billups plays and one for if he doesn't. If Billups can't go, Toney Douglas is expected to get the start. This may benefit the Knicks in the long run in that Douglas is a better defender and a better shooter from the perimeter than Chauncey.
On the Celtics side, Shaq is again not expected to play, but if Jermaine O'Neal can give them what he did in the first game, Shaq shouldn't be needed. Also, Nenad Krstic suffered a bone bruise in his knee in practice and is expected to play, but won't be 100%. There was a report on Yahoo after game 1 that Rondo was seen limping and with a wrap on his knee. I haven't seen any other reports about an injury to Rondo so it may have just been a minor tweak. Rondo is the key to making the offense go and also was big on the boards in game 1 and so hopefully he will be good to go for this one.
The Celtics bench didn't show up in game 1. The 4 players who came off the bench for the Celtics posted a total of 8 points and 8 rebounds. They must improve their effort and output in this game if the Celtics expect to get a win. The Celtics have 2 of the worst refs in the league officiating this game and so anything can happen in this game, depending on what agenda they bring into the game. The Celtics need to come into the game focused and play team ball and most importantly lock down defense from the opening tip until the final buzzer.
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Toney Douglas
This will once again be a key matchup. As we have seen all season, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. When Rondo is on his game and is aggressive, so are the Celtics as illustrated by the fact that the Celtics were 36-6 when Rondo dished out 10 assists or more but they were just 11-15 when Rondo failed to reach 10 assists. Chauncey Billups injured his ankle in game 1 and is listed as questionable for this game. The Knicks game notes have Chauncey listed as the starter although he is also listed as questionable. I'm just taking a guess that Toney Douglas will fill in if he can't go. There were reports of Rondo dealing with an injury to his knee after game 1 also.
Ray Allen vs Landry Fields
Fields held Rondo to just 1-3 shooting in the first half, but Fields didn't see many minutes in the second half and that allowed Ray to hit some big shots aling with the game winner. It was great to see Ray get back on track and hopefully he can pick up where he left off in the second half of game 1.
Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony
This is one of the marquee matchups of these playoffs. Both players are clutch and come up big for their teams when the pressure is on. In game 1, Carmelo scored just 15 points to 18 for Pierce. Pierce made the assist for the game winner while Melo missed the shot that could have put the Knicks on top.
Kevin Garnett vs Amar'e Stoudemire
This is a great matchup. In the first game, Amare scored 28 points and had 11 rebounds while KG had 15 points and 13 rebounds. There seems to be a rivalry brewing between Stoudemire and Big Baby though as both have been talking trash at each other.
Jermaine O'Neal vs Ronny Turiaf
Shaq will once again be out for this game, but Jermaine more than held his own in game 1. He came up with some big shots and scored 12 points. He also had 4 rebounds and 4 blocks. Turiaf was very effective for the Knicks and was very physical on defense. Hopefully Jermaine will continue to produce and stay healthy.
Shaquille O'Neal (calf, Achilles, age) out
Key off the Bench
Big Baby has been key for the Celtics all season and will be counted on down the stretch to play with the starters as he has done all year. The Celtics need his defense and they also need him to make his shots when he is open. Big Baby shot just 1-6 in game 1 and needs to either learn to pass the ball or take better shots. He also was out-rebounded by both Ray and Delonte and so he needs to do a better job on the boards.
When Delonte is healthy and can lead the second unit, he has been invaluable to the team. He has the ability to hit big shots as well as to drive to the basket and he also can run the team to give Rondo some rest. He is also important to give Ray some rest as he can play both guard spots.
Shelden Williams (ankle) day to day
Key off the Bench
If Billups can't start, and Douglas moves into the starting lineup, Carter becomes important as the back up PG. Of course they may elect to start Carter and bring Douglas off the bench because of the spark and scoring that Douglas brings off the bench.
Walker brings energy off the bench and can hit outside shots as well as slash to the hoop. He had a very strong game 1 as he got quality minutes when Melo went to the bench with early foul trouble.
Keys to the Game Bench Play - The Celtics bench scored just 8 points and pulled down just 8 rebounds in game 1. On the other hand, the Knicks' bench scored 23 points to go with 11 rebounds. The Celtics must get more production from their bench. Big Baby, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and Delonte all have to play better.
Defense - The saying that defense wins championships is very true. The Celtics have been one of the top defensive teams in the league this season while the Knicks have been one of the top offensive teams. The Celtics ability to get stops will be a big key in winning this series. It would be nice to see them come out from the start playing lock down defense and not allow the Knicks to get a big lead once again.
Move the Ball - When the Celtics move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man, they are very tough to beat. In the first half, the ball movement wasn't the greatest for the Celtics and they dug a hole that it took them the rest of the game to dig out of. They need to play unselfish team ball right from the start in this game.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to win the 50-50 balls. They must be more aggressive in diving for loose balls, going for rebounds, and driving to the basket. The more aggressive team usually gets the benefit of the calls and also usually wins the game. We know the Knicks are going to be aggressive and the Celtics must be more so.
Rebound - The Celtics must make an effort to crash the boards and win the rebounding battle. The Knicks have not been a good rebounding team and so the Celtics must take advantage of that. They can limit the Knicks second chance points as well as their fast breaks by beating them to the rebounds. In game 1 the Celtics out rebounded the Knicks 44-34 and a lot of that was because Ray and Rondo were crashing the boards. The Celtics bigs have got to rebound better in this game.
Crawford has been officiating games since 1977 and has officiated more play-off games and NBA Finals Games than any other active referee. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many other refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call but that was too late to reverse the outcome of the game. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well. And in the Suns 2010 first round against the Blazers, Crawford made what was possibly the worst foul call of all time when he called Marcus Camby for a foul and put Steve Nash on the line. Camby was nowhere near Nash, but that didn't stop Craawford from calling the foul on him. (video evidence below)
Perhaps the most notable example of Crawford's poor officiating was last season's Game 7 between the Celtics and Lakers. With Boston leading going into the 4th quarter, Crawford and his cronies completely changed their style of officiating. For 3 quarters, the game was called loosely and they were letting the players play. Suddenly in the 4th quarter, they began to call it tight and all the questionable calls went to the Lakers with the result being a 21-6 4th quarter free throw disparity. Joey showed his quick technical trigger when he called 7 T's in the OKC/Clippers game, most of which were ridiculous. The Celtics are 3-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Crawford as a referee. The Knicks are 0-3 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Crawford. Crawford's home W/L record this season is 35-29.
Bennett Salvatore has refereed over 1,400 regular season games, 175+ playoff games and 20 NBA Finals games. Bennett has the distinction of being the worst referee alive today. The man is just incompetent. Salvatore seems to miss more calls and make more bad calls per game than any other ref and tonight he is our crew chief. Salvatore made one of the most controversial calls in NBA finals history in game 5 of the 2006 finals. The call basically gave the Heat their championship. Here is Bill Simmons' take on the call.
Salvatore called the foul on Wade's final drive in overtime (remember, the call where ABC couldn't find a replay to show that anyone touched him?) even though he was standing at midcourt a full 35-40 feet from the play, and even though two other refs were closer to the play. Not only was that NOT his call, he butchered it.
Another of Salvatore's controversial calls was in the 2008 conference finals when he waved off a contested 3-pointer that Pierce had hoisted over Richard Hamilton, inducing him to leave his feet with a ball fake and land on Pierce's back. Pierce, however, was charged with an offensive foul for creating the contact with Hamilton. The Celtics are 3-1 with Salvatore this season. The loss was a poorly officiated game vs the Nets where the Nets shot 24 free throws to 8 for the Celtics. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Salvatore as an official. The Knicks are 3-2 this season and 3-7 over their last 10 games with Salvatore. His home W/L record this season is 32-17.
Seeing Salvatore's name has to make every Celtics fan cringe a little. Check out this video of Salvatore and company doing work in a Celtics-Hawks game.
Michael Smith has officiated over 740+ regular season games and 10 playoff games. He worked 5 years in the CBA, 8 years at the college level and 10 years at the high school level before making it to the NBA. The Celtics are 2-4 with Smith this season. His last 4 games with the Celtics were all poorly officiated. In the Magic at Celtics on January 17, the Celtics won but the Magic took 13 more free throws than the Celtics and the officiating was terrible for both teams. In the last game he officiated, Golden State had a 26-6 free throw advantage with just over 8 minutes left and the Celtics ended with a 28-11 free throw deficit even after several intentional fouls to stop the clock. The officiating was terrible the whole game. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Smith on the court. The Knicks are 1-1 this season and 2-8 over their last 10 games with Smith. Smith is a homer ref with a home W/L is 44-19.
Health and Officiating
Billups is questionable for this game. Krstic is playing with a bruised knee. And there was a report on Yahoo that Rondo was seen limping with a wrap on his knee after game 1. Injuries could play a major role in this game if Billups and/or Rondo are limited and if Krstic can't give the Celtics quality minutes. We have seen many instances where the officiating has made a difference in these playoffs already. The refs let them play in the first game. With Joey Crawford and Bennett Salvatore both on the court, anything can happen in this one.
You gotta be nervous about the Celtics after they won by a combined 5 points in two home games. Plus, the Knicks were depleted last game without Billups the whole time and Amare in the second half. Carmelo was huge for NY--42 points, 17 rebounds--so just imagine if he had some help last night. Check out the stats: