The Boston Celtics are facing a pivotal game 2 against the New York Knicks tonight. The Celtics need to find a way to snag homecourt advantage from the Knicks in this series.
The Celtics defense was more than enough to keep them in position to win the first game of the series, but their offense faltered in the end. After a blistering 53 point first half leaving New York searching for answers defensively.
The Knicks eventually found those defensive answers in the second half and held Boston to 25 points in the second half including eight in the fourth quarter. Here are the three keys to the game if the Celtics want to win tonight.
Three Keys to Victory
- Beat the double team
The Knicks found a way to consistently double the Celtics in the post and off of pick and rolls. After switching pick and rolls for much of the first half against the C’s, the Knicks flipped their strategy into leaving the shooter and helping on the primary ball handler. The Celtics were primarily Kevin Garnett and Avery Bradley to switch Iman Shumpert from off of Paul Pierce in the first half and it worked for a while. The Knicks countered by leaving the roll man–Bradley or Garnett–and aggressively trapping Pierce to try to force arid passes and turnovers.
To beat this, the Celtics simply need to hit shots. Having a non-shooting threat like Avery Bradley isn’t the best particular strategy, but he can always roll to the rim and have the ball move until it finds him.
The Celtics should move away from trying to post up because Jason Terry and Courtney Lee aren’t hitting their outside shots. If that’s going to continue to be the case, the Celtics have no one to play inside out with. That renders the post obsolete for them until otherwise.
- Find ways to get Jeff Green to his right
The entire NBA knows that Jeff Green is better primarily going to his right. The Celtics did a great job of finding him in transition and allowing him open lanes to the right. The Celtics need to transfer this into some of their halfcourt sets for this series. The Knicks are going to shade Jeff Green to the left side of the floor, but if you run him off of screens coming from his left, that will easily free his right hand up. Take a look at the video below to see what I’m talking about.
The ball was stagnant in the second half for the C’s during Saturday’s contest. Green wasn’t really moving around the floor probing and catching the ball on the move. When he caught it he’d be at a standstill position holding the ball. Green is a player who needs the ball in motion with the defense reacting to him not the other way around.
- Kevin Garnett must play big minutes
Defensively the Celtics were good, but a lot of their late collapse had to do with Kevin Garnett being out of the game. The Knicks were afforded many a driving lane with Garnett out of the game. In order to keep J.R Smith and Carmelo Anthony from getting to the inside and bullying their defenders, Garnett is going to need to play big minutes.
The only way that is going to happen is if Garnett is playing his best offensive basketball as well. The Celtics can’t afford to have Garnett floating around the midrange area and mucking up the spacing even further. Its likely that Garnett won’t go 4-12 again, but if he does then the Knicks will leave him open once again. The Celtics will be faced with another tough decision of whether or not to leave him on the floor or bench him.
As I said in a post about Garnett’s floor time earlier today, the combination of Bass and Green performed well in 30 minutes of action on Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if that lineup was utilized more down the stretch.