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.
That’s just nasty.
Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.
Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.
Dwyane Wade still has some springs.
In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.
Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.
LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.
LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.
If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.
Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).
That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.
This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.
Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.
And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.