The Celtics played mediocre offense all regular season. The Celtics played very effective offense in the first half of Game 1 against the Knicks, aided in part by New York's signature poor first-half defense. Rob Mahoney, as he does, expertly elucidated New York's early struggles in a post today. As we've been discussing since the weekend, and as R-Mah (nope, doesn't work) explains, the silliness of New York's early errors was underscored by how little it took to correct them in the second half. After the break, the Knicks stopped switching by default, stopped letting Jeff Green drive right, and actually made an effort to prevent Paul Pierce from setting up in the deep post. Suddenly, there were turnovers and missed shots aplenty and all as well.
So, like, if the Knicks can just do that stuff from the beginning in Game 2, they might not find themselves clawing back from behind to get their home win. Of course, the Celtics will change parts of their offensive approach, so the halftime adjustments from this weekend won't be enough. Beyond the match-up shifts afforded by Pablo Prigioni's return-- Pablo on Avery Bradley, Raymond Felton on Paul Pierce, Iman Shumpert on Jeff Green-- the Knicks will likely have to contend with more from Kevin Garnett. While the offense will still probably run through Pierce drawing doubles on the block, Garnett might be the destination more often than he was Saturday.
Early in Game 1, Tyson Chandler was usually the guy helping on Pierce's post-ups and other Celtics' drives. He got a few stops that way, but also left Garnett alone to can some jumpers and sneak to the rim. That kind of error is as much the fault of sloppy help as it is Chandler's doing, but I think we can all agree that Tyson-- because of his neck, his conditioning, or whatever it may have been-- didn't even vaguely resemble the defensive mountain we expect him to be in Game 1.
In his ESPN Thatyoupayfor piece today, Tom Haberstroh expressed concern over Chandler's play and the lack of depth supporting it, but supposed the Knicks could survive even with half a Chandler against Boston's typically weak attack. That's cool, but even better, Chandler could just get back to playing like himself (on offense, too, while we're at it) and alleviate the concern entirely. Tyson makes it sound like such improvements are on the horizon, but he also spoke highly of his condition heading into Game 1, and that didn't go so hot. It's gotta happen eventually, though. Kenyon Martin's a rowdy fellow, but he's undersized for a match-up with Garnett and a precarious option in general, what with the 35 years of age, chronically bad knees, and recently injured ankle.
So, among the other deliberate adjustments, the Knicks could simply use the Real Tyson Chandler from Game 2 on. Or, like, Earl Barron. Whatever works. Just please stop making the Celtics look good at offense. That's not supposed to be their thing, you guys.