Knicks at Celtics: Round 2, Fight!

Posted: February 3, 2012 by mzyohai in Celtics, Knicks, NBA, Opinion

Mike: Wouldn’t you know it? The sandwich game of the Knicks’ back-to-back-to-back this year is in Boston. After facing off with the Bulls in MSG, the Knicks ride for Boston and game two of their season series with the Celtics. Last time, I got the best Christmas present a Jew could hope for; this time, I might be getting an early Valentine’s Day present.

Rondo is hurt. Melo has already indicated that he might not play all three games of the series. And questions still swirl around Baron Davis’ return.

The Celtics have been pretty low-scoring all season, but haven’t suffered because they’re opponents are scoring even less. What should we expect this Friday?

Nick: With two All-Stars likely to sit this round out, my expectations are low. The dirty little secret on this wildly entertaining NBA season is that the quality of play has been pretty frickin’ poor. (I understand it looks like I’m completely ripping off Bill Simmons since he just wrote this Monday, but I swear I had been thinking this before his meandering three-day column came out. As a Celtics fan, I’ve been clued in to the crappy game play for a long time now. But it’s not just the Celtics; you can vouch for the Knicks, the Lakers have sucked, and even so-called entertaining games like that Heat-Clippers saga have been pretty brutal at times. At times it’s as if teams are seeing how many consecutive rebounds they could string together while running laps between backboards.) Subtract the marquee players for each team, and the game should suffer some more. Are you as excited as I am for enough bricks to get the whole city high?

Mike: But do you think it’s crappy game play overall or just offensively? Because I think the Celtics have been doing some pretty impressive stuff on the defensive side of the ball. In a season where the shots are off and passing seems to be a trial for most teams (Knicks, I’m looking at you), the defensive competence of a team can really put opponents on lockdown.

Nick: I think it’s pretty crappy overall. The Celtics have been playing some solid defense recently, yes, but how many games do I have to watch where the winning team can’t even crack the 80 point mark? The other night the Magic were held to 69 points over four quarters, which sounds (and is) pathetic. Except they only lost by five. Whaaaaaa? It seems to me like less defense and more missed open shots (I like to refer to those as “Shumperts”). Hopefully the rest of the league starts finding its groove much like the Celtics have, so we can be treated to some high-quality hoops.

Mike: If this game follows the trend of most Celtics games this year and both teams score under 90 points, we might be in line for a huge swing from the last time our two teams met. Unfortunately, in the second game of a back-to-back, the Knicks have lost all but one match-up. Unless the Knicks are becoming the team that played Detroit on Tuesday and not the one that collapsed against Memphis (after destroying the 76ers), then this game isn’t going to be pretty for the ‘Bockers. Of course, there’s always the newfound rivalry aspect that has the potential to inspire some solid play from either team. But I still can’t get over the way the Knicks have been playing on the second night of back-to-backs. They look more like asthmatic fat kids than professional basketball players.

Nick: Unfortunately for you, that win probably had a lot more to do with the Pistons than your Knicks. Detroit is going toe-to-toe with Charlotte in the “How miserable can we make our fans?” department. (Oh whoops, sorry, you guys can barely beat the Bobcats. Never mind, kindly ignore that last sentence.) With the Celtics rounding into form finally, maybe they can actually take it to the Knicks for once during the regular season (if it were the playoffs, clearly there would be no problem running New York out of the gym).

Mike: So with some of the big name players out, playing injured, or blue-balling Knicks fans, who do you think will be the sleeper in this match up?

Nick: Hmmm, good question. For the Celtics, I would venture a guess that the sleeper would be Kevin Garnett. (Surprise!) I know a former MVP, the glue of the Big Three and the Celtics defense, and the craziest person east of Metta World Peace doesn’t seem like much of a sleeper, but he’s had a quiet year. On Wednesday night he had all of seven points (he only attempted five field goals) and five rebounds with four assists; he’s averaging a mere 13-7. Facing Amar’e and Tyson Chandler would be a good time for KG to break out, and knowing how intense (that seems like an understatement) he gets and how fired up he’ll get for this match-up and fledgling rivalry, I think he could show up in a big way.

Mike: I will not accept KG as your “sleeper” pick. Not because it’s a cop-out. But simply because KG is ineligible. He doesn’t sleep. Too crazy to sleep.

Nick: Well if you won’t accept KG as a sleeper (I don’t entirely blame you), I’ll go with…(thinking, thinking)…(ummm)…E’Twaun Moore? I don’t feel great about that pick because he might get 20 minutes or he might play all of 2. And I don’t know if he’ll be able to get his shots against Iman Shumpert’s length, though he should be able to get anywhere on the floor if he’s matched up with Mike Bibby’s chalk outline. Instead can I copy a Bill Simmons gimmick and merge him with Avery Bradley to make Ave’Twaun Mooreley my sleeper pick?

Who do you like for the Knicks to replace Carmelo Anthony’s one-point contributions?

Mike: I’m not going to pick someone to replace Carmelo’s point production.

In the Knicks’ situation it is more important for somebody to pick up the point guard role than the point scorer role. The Knicks have four options: Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas, Jeremy Lin, and Mike Bibby. All of them have flashed signs of competence, even brief moments of greatness. But it has to fall to Mike Bibby. Lin and Shumpert are inexperienced players and have no idea how to facilitate the strengths of New York’s key players: Amar’e and Melo. Last year, Douglas appeared like a tenable replacement for Chauncey Billups because he managed to provide a contrast to Billups, which screwed with an opponent’s defensive planning. Without Billups though, Douglas has been less effective. Which brings me back to Bibby. While he didn’t succeed in Miami and was eventually dropped, he has the experience of playing to the strengths of players with clashing styles.

The Celtics don’t really present the best opportunity for a break out game for Bibby, but if they’re going to win, a PG needs to break out sooner rather than later.

Nick: Hahahahahaha. And to think you were giving me grief for Garnett as a sleeper! You’re really expecting Bibby to break out with his .328 FG%, 1.7 AST, and grand total of 14 MPG? (And yes, I’m using the term ‘expecting’ lightly.) You do realize that he’s hit double digits in scoring all of twice, and that for someone looking for a pass-first point guard, he has a season-high of 4 assists? He looks more apt to break out on his face with a severe case of acne than on the court with a decent box score. Good luck with that pick coming true, and good luck winning if you’re hoping for Bibby to be a major factor.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath on either front if I were you.

Mike: Last time around, the Celtics played a much better offensive game than the Knicks. But turnovers and a slight edge on defensive place handed the Knicks a victory. With the Celtics playing much better now, I think the Knicks will have to put up a much better performance on both sides of the court to win this one.

Will they? No. Have I lost pretty much all faith in this team already? We’re getting close.

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Comments
  1. This guy on the Knicks vs. Celtics game said \” Amare Stoudemire had his best game last night with 34 points\”

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