About the only prediction I feel safe about making for this game is that it will be entertaining. This entire series will be.
After that, there are nothing but questions about Game 2 of Boston vs. New York, on the Knicks need on the road to even the series.
How will the Knicks deal without Chauncey Billups? The Knicks starting point guard is out with a sprained knee suffered late in Game 1. That means a whole lot of Toney Douglas, matched up on Rajon Rondo. It’s not as bad as you think — Rondo and Douglas have been on the court for 42 minutes this season and Rondo shot more often but only hit 31 percent in that situation, and he really struggled from three (thanks Statscube). The reverse also has been true — Douglas shoots just 29 percent overall and 18 percent from three when Rondo is on him. This may not be the game where Rondo takes over.
Will Carmelo Anthony heat up? Anthony was 5-of-18 overall rarely got in deep on the stout Boston defense. The result was a 4-of-15 night shooting jumpers, with plenty of key misses down the stretch. He cannot have another cold night like that again if the Knicks plan to get a win.
Will the Knicks go away from the hot hand again? This was their biggest mistake in Game 1 — Amar’e Stoudemire was on fire, killing Kevin Garnett off the dribble, yet he didn’t get a touch in the final two minutes so Carmelo Anthony could take and miss contested jumpers. Mike D’Antoni talked about this, but the Knicks have to go with what works. And they need another big game from Stoudemire.
Can Boston get Garnett going? He struggled to a 4-of-12 shooting night with Ronny Turiaf on him most of the night. As Zach Lowe pointed out at The Point Forward, Turiaf on the floor was a defensive advantage for the Celtics as that is who they helped off of all night. Turiaf’s energy will probably be able to keep Garnett in relative check on offense, but is that worth the offensive trade off for Boston. If they go with someone other than Turaif look for a lot of KG.
Can Jermaine O’Neal have another big night? Jermaine O’Neal was the kind of defensive presence, good rebounder Boston needs in Game 1 plus he went 6-of-6 from the field. Can he replicate that? History suggests otherwise, but Boston could use it.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.