In Game 1, the Knicks looked like one of the best teams in the league at guarding the paint, holding the Celtics to just 34 points in that area on the court -- 7.5 below their season average. Their defensive performance was a worlds apart from what they did during the regular season, as they tied with the Kings as the second-worst interior defensive team, allowing 46.0 points in the paint per game.
Tonight, not only did the Knicks maintain basically their same down-low defensive pressure, giving up 40 points in the paint to the Celtics, they improved their rebounding numbers, dramatically, without an injured Amare Stoudemire and a DNP coach's decision Shelden Williams. The Knicks, who averaged 40.5 rebounds during the regular season, outrebounded the Celtics 53-37; not to mention, they dominated the offensive glass, 20 to 9, which was a season-high and nearly double their season average of 10.3 (tied for 22nd-worst in the league).
Leading up to Game 2, Stoudemire stressed that the team needed to go after longer rebounds more, an area in which they got outhustled in the latter part of the fourth quarter in Game 1. Well, by attacking the offensive glass tonight, the Knicks were able to convert those extra plays into an 18-point advantage on second-chance opportunities.
Offensive Redounding In Game 2
Knicks / Celtics
Offensive rebounds -- 20 / 9
Offensive rebounding percentage -- 41.7 / 21.4
Second-chance field goals -- 10-of-21 / 3-of-13
Second chance points -- 24 / 6
Even though his Celtics won, after the game Doc Rivers said he was disappointed by the way his guys window cleaned.
"They were flying to the glass," Rivers said. "Listen, they knew they didn’t have their guys [Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups]; I mean, they were going for it. But it’s not that we didn’t play hard; we played hard. But we’ve got to play better and smarter. Hard is great; hard and smart is much better. And we can do better, we can be better."
Where the Knicks have to improve is their transition defense, a weakness of theirs exploited in the first quarter, when they allowed Rajon Rondo to leak out on the wing, receive the outlet pass and explode down the court for the fastbreak layup. In that period, he scored 12 points on the fastbreak en route to a team-high 30. In fact, more than half of his points (16) came in transition, which was seven more than the entire Knicks team.
Transition Offense In Game 2
Rondo* / Knicks
Plays -- 11 / 12
Field goals -- 6-of-7 / 4-of-12
Points -- 16 / 9
*5-of-6 (12 points) in the first quarter
Speaking of fastbreak layups, look at what Rondo's been able to do so far in the series within five feet of the basket.
Rondo In Game 2 Inside And Outside 5 Feet
Inside 5 Feet / 5+ Feet
Field goals -- 11-of-16 / 2-of-7
Points -- 22 / 4
Percentage of field goals attempted -- 69.6 / 30.4
Rondo Inside 5 Feet In Games 1 and 2
Game 1 / Game 2
Field goals -- 2-of-7 / 11-16
Points -- 4 / 22
Percentage of field goals attempted -- 50.0 / 69.6
Now let's see if the Knicks can combine interior and transition defense, and rebounding, to win Game 3. Of course, it'd be nice if Stoudemire, Billups and Carmelo Anthony are all healthy Friday night.
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