Taking a cue from yesterday's games, I expect Game 2 of Celtics/Knicks to again be officiated very closely early. This once again will favor the Celtics, who leveraged a very whistle happy first half to set pace and tone. The pace of the game led to many late in shot clock possessions as the game approached halftime, and allowed for seams in the Knicks defense to open allowing Jeff Green and Avery Bradley some very easy baskets.
I managed an entire paragraph without using Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce's names but that's not to eliminate both from being the first key to tonight's Game 2.
- KG and Pierce- It seemed at times that Pierce and Garnett were circling the wagons a bit in letting Green get going and trying to get Bradley and other role players involved. I got the feeling that they were feeling the Knicks out without expounding too much energy. If that was the case, then expect them to come out guns blazing early, then pacing themselves for a big fourth quarter finish. If I sensed this, and again that was Boston's strategy, I'd assume Woody did as well. The Knicks have to expect big right hands, consistently, from Boston's Hall of Fame heavyweights.
- JR in Catch and Shoot- You felt it, I felt it, we all felt those 5 rise and fire's off catchs (in rhythm) that JR didn't convert. Those are shots that JR has made all season and will make tonight. If he makes 3-4 threes, that lifts a heavy burden off the pick and roll and of course Melo.
- Continuing to Manage Chandler- Look, I don't know if Chandler's neck is going to cause him to play as poorly as he did game one all playoffs long, but Woody has to allow him to try and get his wind and timing back. But this is an incredible fine line. For the past month or so when the Knicks go small with Martin they are literally unbeatable on both ends and as you saw last night with the Nets/Bulls game, the Knicks have to combine Melo AND pick and roll if they are going to make short work of the Celtics. Felton, who was nothing short of outstanding in Game 1 (especially physically) has to get Martin and Chandler easy buckets tonight.