Celtics - Knicks review: C's can't hang without Garnett

Celtics - Knicks review: C's can't hang without Garnett
March 31, 2013, 10:15 pm
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NEW YORK  — Both Boston and New York were without their primary big men in Kevin Garnett and Tyson Chandler.

But when you look at each respective team's surrounding cast, it's clear that the Knicks have the kind of roster that can absorb the absence of Chandler while the no Garnett makes for a tough night - and in many cases, a loss - for the Celtics.

The absence of Garnett was just one of the many factors that the C's could not overcome in a 108-89 loss to the Knicks on Sunday.

Here are some other keys outlined prior to the game, and how they played out as the C's lose the game - and the season series - to the Knicks.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Shavlik Randolph, coming off a nine-point, 13-rebound performance in Boston's win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, will be the C's first big man off the bench tonight. Randolph said his approach going forward won't be any different than it was leading up to the Hawks game. "I know my role, and that's to come in, provide energy, defend, rebound and help this team win," he told CSNNE.com in a phone interview following the Hawks game. "That's the only thing I'm focused on right now."

WHAT WE SAW: Randolph only played 13 minutes on Sunday, in part because he made little to no impact while on the floor. He finished with zero points and two rebounds for the Celtics.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs Carmelo Anthony: Pierce is coming off his third triple-double this season of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in win over the Hawks. Meanwhile, Anthony continues to play his way into the league MVP conversation with a 27.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game average this season.

WHAT WE SAW:  Both carried their respective teams for long stretches on Sunday. The biggest difference? Other than Jeff Green, Pierce didn't get much support from his teammates while Anthony got strong games from a slew of Knicks players like Raymond Felton and Chris Copeland.

PLAYER TO WATCH: J.R. Smith is on a roll that you seldom see from a reserve, even a high-scoring one such as himself. Smith comes into tonight's game having scored 30 or more points off the bench in New York's last three games which includes dropping 32 points on Celtics last week. "He's playing really well for them," C's forward Jeff Green told CSNNE.com. "We definitely have to try and find a way to slow him down some tonight."

WHAT WE SAW: Smith was dynamic and dominant as ever, finishing with 15 points off the bench to help New York extend its winning streak to eight in a row.

STAT TO TRACK:  The C's failed in a number of categories when these two played last week, but few stick out like the second-chance points differential. Although Boston was just minus-1 on the boards for the game, the Knicks out-rebounded them 15-7 on the offensive glass and that led to a decisive 29-6 Knicks advantage in second-chance points.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston wasn't really hurt all that much by second-chance points by the Knicks on Sunday. The bigger issue for them was that they simply could not keep the New York shooters in front of them long enough to contest shots, a big factor in the Knicks shooting such a high percentage for the game.