Knicks expecting bigger challenge from Celtics in Game 2
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks know what awaits them later this week when their first-round playoff series shifts to Boston, and it puts even more importance on Tuesday night's Game 2.
The Celtics, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the court and Doc Rivers on the sideline, have proved to be a tough team to beat at home in the playoffs. Emotions will be high Friday when the Celtics host their first game since the tragic events in Boston last week.
"We're approaching this game as a must-win here on our home court," Carmelo Anthony said after practice Monday. "We don't want to go back to Boston 1-1."
The Knicks haven't led a best-of-seven series 2-0 since sweeping Atlanta in the 1999 conference semifinals. They took Game 1 of this series, 85-78, on Saturday behind 36 points from Anthony and a stirring second-half defensive performance that made the Celtics look old and overmatched.
Garnett was a non-factor for most of the game. Boston scored only 25 points after halftime and had as many points (eight) as turnovers in the fourth quarter. Yet it was a one-possession game with a little less than three minutes to go.
The Celtics clearly miss point guard Rajon Rondo, who is out with a torn ACL, and Ray Allen, who joined the Heat. They were big parts of the team that won a championship, reached another NBA Finals and got to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last year.
But the Knicks still consider the Celtics dangerous because of Pierce, Garnett and Rivers.
With two days off since Game 1, Rivers has had time to address many things, including taking care of the ball and throwing better entry passes. Point guard Avery Bradley struggled doing that in Game 1, when he committed four of the Celtics' 21 turnovers.
"They're well-coached and they know what they have to do," Kenyon Martin said. "They're going to come here, scratch, claw, fight, in order to get a game. We've got to be prepared for whatever."
Rivers said one adjustment will be to get Garnett more involved. He was 4-for-12 with eight points and took the fewest shots of any Boston starter other than Brandon Bass.
Pierce also might be more of a playmaker this game after a subpar Game 1. He scored 21 but shot 6-for-15 and committed six turnovers. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 26 points but also had six turnovers.
"They're pros," Martin said. "They're competitors. They won a championship together. They've been to other Finals and lost, so we know what they're capable of doing. So we've got to make sure that they don't [bounce back]."
The Knicks, meanwhile, are maintaining the same attitude they had throughout the regular season. It's about how they execute and perform on both ends.
There are some things they need to clean up: Their pick-and-roll defense early in the game was deficient and the ball stuck too much when Anthony and J.R. Smith had it.
Both areas could improve if Pablo Prigioni plays Tuesday night. He's probable after missing Game 1 with a sprained ankle. Tyson Chandler said he feels better physically after having little impact in Game 1, and his defense will be needed if Garnett is more of a factor.
"We can't be too concerned about what [those] guys are going to do," Anthony said. "We know they're going to make adjustments. That's what they do. That's what type of team they are. Those are the type of players they are. They're not All-Stars and future Hall of Famers for no reason. They're going to make adjustments and we've got to be prepared for that."