1. Did we learn anything about this series in Game 1?
Danny Guerrero: Not sure we learned anything new in Game 1. Both teams struggled offensively (the Celtics more than the Knicks), but that can be attributed to a couple of things. The Knicks were without Pablo Prigioni, who has been orchestrating the offense for about the past month. You also might be able to use the excuse of Game 1 jitters and an extended break for Knicks regulars like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler and others who didn’t play much the last week of the regular season. As for Boston, their offensive problems should have been expected. With no true point guard, Paul Pierce is basically running the show for the Celtics. He is now responsible for getting his teammates and himself shots. Other than Pierce and the first half performances of Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, the C’s got zero from everyone else. Not a good omen for them going forward.
Bryan Gibberman: I had two main takeaways from Game One. 1. The Celtics weren’t able to fix their issues in the break between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. 2. Boston is still a poor rebounding team and New York should continue to win the turnover battle. More importantly, unlike what we saw from head coach Mike Woodson in last year’s first round series against the Heat, he showed an ability to make halftime adjustments. New York improved its ball movement and corrected some systematic defensive errors in the second half. A good first game for the Knicks.
Tony Arnoldine: We learned that Kenyon Martin will play an important role in the Knicks’ success against Boston. He can bully Kevin Garnett and add defense and rebounding in the post, along with Tyson Chandler.
2. After watching game one, how big of a role do you think Pablo Prigioni will play?
Danny: Prigioni’s absence was huge. Since taking over the starting PG duties for the Knicks on 3/18 vs the Jazz, the team had not scored less than 90 points in any game. Game 1 without him: 85. While the team still has two experienced PGs, in Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, there is no doubt the two got used to and comfortable playing as the team’s SGs in Mike Woodson’s two PG lineups. With Prigioni (possibly) back for Game 2, I expect the Knicks offense to be more fluid.
Bryan: Pablo Prigioni’s role in this series brings an interesting dynamic. Boston is smallish at the four and five, but they are extremely big at the one, two and three. With Felton, Prigs and Shumpert starting New York is going to have a difficult time matching up at the defensive end. This is where the Knicks incessant double-teaming over the course of the regular season could actually help them. They have plenty of practice doubling and rotating, which they will need to do if Felton is guarding Paul Pierce on the defensive end. The main goal in these situations should be to funnel the ball to Avery Bradley and put him in a position to make a decision, and not work off cuts or spot up jumpers. Offensively, Prigs will fit right in and immediately improve the Knicks’ half court sets. New York lacked ball movement in the first half outside of stretch when they played their second unit. The Argentinian will help solve this issue and the Knicks offense will be more fluid.
Tony: Ray Felton played 43 minutes in Game 1 and for him to stay fresh throughout the series, and hopefully a longer playoff run, Prigioni will have to provide the depth he did during the regular season.
3. How important is it that the Knicks return to their old ways of shooting a lot of threes?
Danny: At least for this series, I’m not sure it will matter if the Knicks continue their three-point barrage of the regular season. Plain and simple, they are just better than the Celtics, especially a Boston team without perennial Knick-killer Rajon Rondo. The Celtics offense will continue to struggle as long as Pierce has to worry about getting his teammates and himself shots. Their offense might even look worse if they continue to get nothing from their bench. As for the Knicks, as long as they move the ball around and look for the open man instead of getting caught up in Iso-Melo and Iso-JR, there is no reason why they won’t (and shouldn’t) win this series.
Bryan: During the regular season, the Knicks averaged 21.8 three point attempts per game. Game One against the Celtics New York shot 25 three pointers. There is nothing wrong with this, the Knicks should continue to let it fly. If the Knicks are taking three pointers it means they are moving the ball and taking quality shots. There’s no way to figure this out without tracking every three pointer the Knicks have taken this season, but my guess is more often than not when they take threes they are in catch and shoot situations. New York gets open threes off of their pick and roll sets, plus Boston shifting its defense towards Carmelo Anthony. When Anthony makes the correct pass, something he has been doing for the majority season, it usually leads to an open three pointer on the weak side of the court.
Tony: When the Knicks are running on all cylinders, the prolific three-point shooting comes because of their success in other aspects. That needs to be the case for New York to be successful in these playoffs. Forcing threes won’t help, but hitting open shots as a result of good ball movement and Carmelo Anthony drawing double teams should be a strategy for Mike Woodson.