Celtics vs. Knicks: The X-factors for Game 3

Celtics vs. Knicks: The X-factors for Game 3
April 25, 2013, 5:30 pm
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WALTHAM — Boston trails New York 2-0 in their best-of-seven series, and the league's scoring champion (Carmelo Anthony) and the NBA's top sixth man (J.R. Smith) have been really good.

But New York's control of this series has been directly impacted by role players, too.

Raymond Felton's dribble penetration and scoring around the basket has been a major factor in each of the first two games.

Jason Kidd has provided lots of intangible qualities, like closing out defensively or getting a deflection that takes away a Celtics' scoring opportunity and results in an easy score for New York.

And then there's Kenyon Martin, the could-have-been-Celtic who has been killing his could-have-been Green Team teammates with his relentless energy off the bench.

Paul Pierce is going to put up big numbers. Ditto for Kevin Garnett.

But for the Celtics to get back into this series, they will need others - their own X-factors - to emerge in the coming days.

So who will those players be?

We got your answers, right here.



Green has done: He has been the ultimate tease for Celtics Nation, showing enough talent to make you believe he's an All-Star-in-the-making, but disappearing often enough to leave you befuddled. Green has had one good half of basketball in the playoffs thus far, which is so not what a player with his talent should be doing on a stage this big. You can't expect him to score 20 points in a half every game. But he should get you more than one rebound in 30-plus minutes.

Green needs to: Be put in more pick-and-roll situations when the Celtics are in half-court sets. The Knicks usually switch defenders which has often led to Green having a smaller or slower defender on him. Against smaller defenders, Green just shoots over the top of them. Against slower ones, he attacks them off the dribble. By doing this, it will force New York to make some adjustments defensively which should bode well for the Celtics because if they're overly concerned with Green, that should create more opportunities for Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett to score.


Terry has done: This has been a disappointing season for the Celtics and no one embodies this more than Terry. His scoring average (10.1) hasn't been this low since he was a rookie. And in his first playoff game with the Celtics, he was scoreless while missing all five of his shots. Terry's Game 2 performance was better (nine points, 3-for-8 shooting) but, in the grand scheme of things, still underwhelming relative to what the Celtics needed from him.

Terry needs to: Become more like a hockey player and make the "hockey assist." Finding his shooting stroke would be better, but at this point nobody -- Terry included -- has a feel for how that is going to play out. Because he is a scoring threat that the Knicks have to game plan for, finding guys to pass to who then make the past for an assist, could be just what the C's need from him until he gets his shooting touch back on track. Terry can also do more to contribute defensively. He's never going to be the defender that Avery Bradley or Courtney Lee is, but he can make himself more of a pest defensively than we have seen after two games.


Crawford has done: If there's one player who can shoot the C's in -- or out -- of game in no time, it is Crawford. One of his biggest supporters since he joined the Celtics via trade from Washington in Feb. 21, has been Doc Rivers. That confidence has now manifested itself into Crawford moving ahead of Courtney Lee on the Celtics' depth chart.

Crawford needs to: Have a few more of the "Good Jordan" moments. We saw at the start of the fourth quarter in Game 2 how he just took it to Steve Novak repeatedly. Crawford's aggressive play netted him five points during an 8-2 run by the Celtics to start the fourth quarter. He has that in him; that is, the ability to take over games. But that Jordan Crawford has not been seen often enough in this series. Now that Rivers has essentially said he will be the first or second guard off the bench along with Jason Terry, Crawford will get an opportunity to play a more pivotal role moving forward in this series. And while Lee is a more complete player, Crawford's strength -- scoring -- is exactly what the Celtics need more of, right now.