Tip: 8PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: TNT Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Joe Crawford, Dick Bavetta and Marat Kogut
Spread: NY – 1.5
Paul Pierce reminded the Knicks and their fans that he owns them in the Celtics 102-96 win two weeks ago. You may have forgotten a small sidebar to the game – KG and Melo nearly fought outside the team bus. The Knicks have dropped 13 straight in Boston.
Get it to: Rajon Rondo
I had Rajon Rondo as the “get it to” guy in the first game, but he was suspended for acting like a dick to the league. I’m sticking with Rondo. Here’s my original reasoning:
“With Raymond Felton out with a finger injury, the Knicks are riding Jason Kidd hard. So hard that he’s already sitting out practices. Kidd can still put up some decent offensive numbers, but chasing Rajon Rondo around the court will be a challenge. Pablo Prigioni, a 35-year-old Argentinian, is also logging minutes. If Rajon Rondo can penetrate (and there’s no reason he shouldn’t), force Tyson Chandler to rotate, he should be able to find open guys. The Knicks are not a defensive juggernaut. They rank 23 in opponents points per play.”
One new wrinkle – Iman Shumpert has returned from his ACL injury. He’s limited to about 20 minutes, but could see time guarding Rondo.
Gotta stop: Carmelo Anthony
There’s plenty of motivation for Melo – who embarrassed himself on the court (6-26 FG) and off the court in the last meeting. I anticipate the crowd will boo him every time he touches the ball. And if Melo needed additional fuel, there’s this bulletin board material from a very smart Celtics blogger.
The Wild Card: Jeff Green
There are a bunch of other angles at play; the Celtics perimeter defense, Tyson Chandler’s offensive rebounding, JR Smith’s explosive scoring, but I’m going with Mr. Invisible. Green had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the last game vs NY. Maybe the site of Steve Novak trying to move laterally will bring out the best in Green. He’s got to be better. When he’s not, there’s way too much pressure on the Celtics starting five.
How we see it goin’ down
If there’s such a thing as a must win game in January, this is it. The Celtics have stumbled and bumbled their way through four horrific losses. The buzzards are circling. If the troops are ever going to answer Doc’s call… it’s tonight.
The misery and suffering ends.