Celtics-Knicks review: The KG plan goes awry

Celtics-Knicks review: The KG plan goes awry
April 24, 2013, 1:00 am
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NEW YORK —  Getting Kevin Garnett the ball often was the game plan.

And that plan, much like most of the C's plans in Game 2, didn't work out how they expected as the Celtics continue to dig themselves a playoff hole that's looking more like a playoff grave after an 87-71 loss to the Knicks on Tuesday.

Boston trails in the series 2-0 with Games 3 and 4 shifting back to Boston.

Garnett would tally a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 4-for-9 from the field.

The shooting numbers weren't too shabby, but getting Garnett the ball often never happened with the kind of consistency the C's needed in order to even up this best-of-seven series.

Garnett's lack of touches was directly tied to him being in early foul trouble. He picked up two in the game's first four minutes.

"I thought the fouls on Kevin were horrendous and had a huge affect on us," said coach Doc Rivers. "He never got his rhythm when you could see he was going to have a game. It hurt us."

Said Garnett: "At times it's frustrating, but fouls are a part of the game. Refs are calling things, but it's an aggressive time in postseason play. I just have to be consistent and position myself not to foul so much."

Garnett's foul trouble certainly played a role in Boston's Game 2 loss, but by no means was it the only reason the C's were beaten so soundly by the Knicks.

Here are some other factors laid out prior to the game, and how they actually played out with this series shifting to Boston for Games 3 and 4.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: There will be a renewed focus on the Celtics part to get the ball to Kevin Garnett. That doesn't mean KG will take a ton of shots or get a bunch of points. Boston will try to put him more in the role of a low-post facilitator with the option being his to score, find an open man or make the "hockey assist" - the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the basket being made.
WHAT WE SAW: Not only did Garnett not take a lot of shots, but he actually wound up taking fewer in Game 2 (nine) than he did in Game 1 (12). Of course, a big part of that was Garnett's early foul trouble. "Everything we do really goes through getting Kevin the ball inside and working from there," said Paul Pierce. "So when he gets into foul trouble we need to find ways to make adjustments."

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Paul Pierce vs Raymond Felton: There's a good chance that these two will face each other a good deal of the game, pitting Pierce's size and strength against Felton's quickness. In Game 1, Pierce had 21 points and seven assists, but he turned the ball over six times that to some degree negated his solid scoring game. Felton only had 13 points and six assists, but his impact was felt throughout his time on the floor, evident by the Knicks being +16 when he was in the game.
WHAT WE SAW: Similar to Game 1, these two played to a virtual draw, which is not a good thing for the Celtics. Pierce had more points (18 to 16), but did so by taking four more shots while Felton had more rebounds (7 to 6) with Pierce racking up more assists (6 to 2). The fact that Felton has been able to hold his own with Pierce in this series is one of the many reasons New York has a 2-0 series lead.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Pablo Prigioni (ankle) should be back in the Knicks' lineup tonight. It will be worth keeping an eye on how well the 35-year-old rookie (he'll be 36 next month) defends Avery Bradley who had a playoff career-high 15 points on Saturday for the Celtics.
WHAT WE SAW: He returned to the lineup for New York and once again had an understated but very solid game. He had just one point, but still had five assists without a single turnover. And with the win, the Knicks' record with him as a starter improves to 17-2 this season.

STAT TO TRACK:  The Knicks are going to launch more than their share of 3s all game. During the regular season, they took 28.9 per game which tied the Houston Rockets for tops in the NBA. Even more significant is that they shoot 37.6 percent on threes which is tied for the fourth-best shooting mark in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Celtics counter with a defense that has been pretty good against the three-ball this season, holding opponents to 34.2 percent on threes which ranks fourth in the league in three-point percentage defense.
WHAT WE SAW:  New York only took 19 3s in Game 2, but shot 36.8 percent, which is less than a one percent below their season average. It certainly played a role in the game's outcome, especially in the third quarter when Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes -- his only made shots of the game -- that tied the score at 50 and set into motion a dominant third quarter for the Knicks that positioned them for the victory.