The Boston Celtics have lost two straight games after pounding the New York Knicks in a 41 point victory last Sunday. The Celtics will certainly walk in with a bunch of confidence because of their stellar performance earlier in the week, but they’ll need to stay away from complacency because the Knicks are likely going to be looking for revenge after that loss.
The Knicks have been quite the embarrassment this year. After winning the Atlantic division last year, they’re currently the worst team in the division. And that was after trading a draft pick for Andrea Bargnani–a deal that has completely backfired. And Bargnani has played well for the Knicks this season–but he’s not a game changer.
The Celtics are going to look to get back on the winning tracks in this game tonight. Here’s what they have to do to accomplish that.
Get in Transition
In their big victory over the Knicks, the Celtics were very effective in transition opportunities. They had 20 possessions that were qualified as transition according to Synergy Sports technology. On those 20 opportunities, they scored 1.5 points per possession and shot 69% from the floor. Those are some stellar numbers that were key in the Celtics winning.
The Knicks just don’t defend well in transition. They get lost in translation a lot and there’s no one back at the rim with Tyson Chandler still out. Once he returns, things may get back in order defensively but by then it may be too late. This Knicks team is looking like a lost cause on both ends of the floor and Mike Woodson’s job is on the line because of that.
Tonight, the Celtics have to see themselves attacking full court and getting everyone easy buckets. Guys like Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace and Jordan Crawford should especially benefit from transition ball.
Jordan Crawford has to keep the turnovers down
When you turn the ball over in the NBA, you don’t win games. It’s really that simple sometimes; when the C’s hold on to the ball, they win. And the same goes for most teams in the NBA. That’s why you see teams like the Spurs and the Heat with low turnover averages and great assist to turnover ratios.
Jordan Crawford is going to be key here. He’s going to touch the ball the most for the Celtics tonight. That also means he’ll have the opportunity to turn the ball over the most tonight. If the Celtics are going to win, he has to be the point guard that holds on to the ball. His numbers reflect that sentiment–his assist to turnover ratio in wins versus losses is stark.
In wins, Crawford’s assist to turnover ratio is 4.0. Crawford’s turnover percentage is 19.8% in wins according to NBA.com’s stat tool. When you look at the Celtics losses, you see that Crawford’s assist to turnover ratio is 2.06 and his turnover percentage is up to 21.7%–nearly two percent points higher.
Crawford has to keep the ball in the Celtics hands if they’re going to have a shot tonight. He’s the closest thing they have to a starting caliber point guard this year and he’s played that role for them well lately. He’s got to keep that effort going strong.
Make Carmelo an outside shooter
If the Celtics allow Carmelo to get involved in the paint scoring for the Knicks tonight, they are going to have a tough time winning this game. They must keep a wall in front of Anthony and force him to shoot the ball from the outside or just pass the ball to a teammate.
Anthony is a master at drawing fouls and will continue to get to the line if he can force his way inside. The Celtics did a great job of limiting Anthony to outside looks on Sunday. He had six of his 15 shots come in the restricted area, but the rest were outside of it and he only made five shots. Take a look at his shot distribution from that game.
Melo was allowed to shoot from the most difficult areas on the floor when he did shot. That’s a winning defensive strategy for anyone who plays the Knicks. You’ve got to make Melo give the ball up, limit his shots and restrict him to certain areas of the floor. If the Celtics can do that difficult task again tonight, they’ll win.