The Celtics are returning home for the first time since tragedy struck Boston. Down 2-0 in the series Boston has looked old, tired and beaten up. This game will end up being one of the most important games this team has played this year as they look to avoid going down 3-0, a deficit that no team in NBA history has comeback from.
While the First two games weren’t exactly how I would’ve liked them to turn out, it hasn’t been a total disaster. So far in the series I’ve thought they’ve played great defense, a lot of the Knicks offense so far has been generated by making some very difficult shots. The Knicks as expected are also getting a high % of their points from the behind the line.
Let’s take a look at some keys to the game
Take Advantage of Paul Pierce Being Guarded by Felton/Prigioni/Kidd:
In game 2 the Knicks were very content to switch the FT line screens on Pierce, leaving either Prigioni, Felton or Kidd guarding Pierce. This is obviously something Boston needs to take advantage of that they weren’t able to in Game 2. Paul has a pretty good size advantage on either one those defenders and neither of them are that adept at defense(Kidd allowed 44% on Isos this year and Felton allowed 46% shooting on Isos) . Paul only shot 8-19 from the field with the majority of those shots being defended by Felton-Prigioni-Kidd. If New York continues to over switch like this in Game 3 Boston and Pierce has to make New York pay.
Hit open jump shots:
The biggest problem offensively so far for Boston has been their inability to hit open shots. It sounds simple enough but they just aren’t knocking them down. In Game 2 Boston shot a horrendous 5-24(20%) on spot up jump shots, they weren’t all terrible looks. In Game 1 they shot a similar 6-21 on spot up opportunities. The Celtics are doomed to fail if they can’t hit these shots or at least convert them into more at the rim attempts.
Live with Tough Shot Making:
Defensively Boston has done a very good job making Anthony and Smith take/make some pretty horrendous shot attempts. They’ve contested as well as I could ask and have forced New York to rely on difficult perimeter jump shots. Avery, Green, Bass and Pierce have all played some very good defense on JR and Carmelo.
There’s going to be a lot of emotion running through this game, the crowd will most likely be as raucous as ever as the people of Boston look to forget what transpired over the course of the past few weeks. Right now Boston has pretty much seen what I think is the ceiling of the Knicks. A lot of things went wrong in Game 2 like KG being in foul trouble and some missed opportunities from the perimeter. All Boston needs is one home win to get back in this series.