<
>

Double is no trouble for Carmelo

If Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire can’t go in Game 3, look for Boston to employ a double-team on Carmelo Anthony early and often.

The Celtics frequently threw a double-team at Anthony down the stretch in Game 2 when Billups was out with a strained left knee and Stoudemire was sidelined with back spasms.

Both players missed practice on Thursday. Mike D’Antonisaid he is optimistic about Stoudemire’s return but less so about Billups.

So Anthony is gearing up for the double team. In practice on Thursday, the Knicks worked on getting players such as Shawne Williams and Bill Walker in better spaces to receive the ball from Anthony.

“He’s going to pass the ball to us, we’ve just got to get in the right spots and make our shots,” said Walker, who shot 0-for-11 in the Knicks’ 96-93 Game 2 loss.

Anthony often caught the ball on the wing against the double-team, which limited his options. You can expect Anthony to catch it in different spots if he sees the same defense on Friday night.

“I’m prepared for the double team,” Anthony said on Thursday. “The double-team is something I’ve been dealing with since I came in the league. I’m just trying to get them guys used to it too. When I get double-teamed, somebody is open.”

READY FOR RONDO? D’Antoni also hopes his team is ready to slow down Rajon Rondo from the opening tip on Friday night. The speedy Celtics guard burned the Knicks for 30 points, 20 of which came on shots five feet or closer to the rim.

“We’ve just got to get back in transition,” D’Antoni said on Thursday. “The first quarter, he got the rim three times. After we settled down (and) he didn’t hardly get to the rim. (Rondo) maybe surprised us a little bit, maybe we weren’t lathered up. It can’t happen again, we’ve got to get our (big men) back.”

Rondo also had seven assists in Game 2. He scored his 30 on 13-of-23 shooting, quite a turnaround from his ten point performance in Game 1.