Celtics-Knicks review: What we saw


Celtics-Knicks review: What we saw

BOSTON Kevin Garnett probably said it best in describing Boston's 91-89 win over New York on Friday night.

"It don't have to be pretty to win," he said.

Garnett's words rung loud and true on Friday night as the C's fell behind by as many as 12 points before rallying for the victory which puts them at 12-10 - the first time they have been more than one game above .500 all season.

There were a number of factors that came into play, some of which we outlined prior to Friday's game.

We'll take a look at those areas and see how the Celtics and Knicks fared in those respective areas.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - Much has been said about New York's woes stemming from not having a true point guard in the regular rotation. With Baron Davis still out with a back injury - he hasn't played in an NBA game since April 10 of last season - that's not going to change anytime soon. The point-guard problems are evident when you look at a Knicks team that's middle-of-the-road in scoring with 95 points per game (that ranks 14th in the league), but is ranked No. 23 in assists off made field goals.

WHAT WE SAW: The Knicks kept true to form, with a relatively low percentage for field goals that come by way of an assist. Coming into Friday's game, 55 percent of the Knicks' made baskets came by way of an assist. On Friday, New York had 19 assists on 34 made baskets. That breaks down to 55.9 percent of their baskets on Friday coming via an assist.

MATCHUP TO WATCH - Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony: Pierce's right heel injury prevented this matchup from occurring on opening night. Pierce is indeed back to playing like himself. In Boston's last seven games, he's averaging 22.8 points, 7.7 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game. As for Anthony, he's just getting back into his All-Star form after missing two games with sprained right ankle, sprained left wrist and sprained right thumb. Keeping him under control, especially in the fourth quarter, will be huge for the Celtics.

WHAT WE SAW: Without question, Pierce had the edge in this matchup. He finished with 30 points compared to 26 by Anthony. Even more telling was how the C's essentially took Anthony out of plays and forced the Knicks to rely on other players to come up with baskets in the game's final moments. "We knew what we had to do," said Boston's Chris Wilcox. "We went and pressured him and got the ball out of his hand and make somebody else make plays." Clearly that didn't work for the New York, as rookie Iman Shumpert was among those who had opportunities to put New York ahead late in the game, but he was unable to make the clutch play.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Without question, it has to be Rajon Rondo. After participating in the team's morning shootaround, all indications are that Rondo will return to action after missing the previous eight games with a right wrist injury. In addition to Rondo, it'll be worth keeping an eye on what his return means to Avery Bradley who has filled in for him with the first unit, and E'Twaun Moore who seems to keep improving the more he plays. In the season opener against the Knicks, Rondo had 31 points, 13 assists and five rebounds.

WHAT WE SAW: No one believes the Rajon Rondo we saw on Friday is going to be who we see moving forward. His wrist injury was further complicated by a black eye that was swelling up. He finished with seven points, seven assists and five rebounds. "I thought he played well," said coach Doc Rivers. "He was rusty, obviously."

STAT TO TRACK: Rebounding will once again be an issue with tonight's game featuring two of the league's worst. The Knicks are ranked No. 21 in rebounds with 49.9 per game. The C's are once again near the bottom of the NBA standings, averaging 46.1 per game which ranks 29th in the league.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's ability to crash the boards not only allowed the Celtics to control the game's tempo, but ultimately positioned them to take over Friday night's game. At the half, the Celtics were minus-4 on the boards only to reverse that and go plus-six which would put them at plus-two on the boards. For the game, Boston had 40 rebounds compared to 37 for New York.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”