The Boston Celtics head to New York to battle the Knicks tonight in Game 3 of their NBA playoff series looking to take a 3-0 lead in a game that will be televised on ESPN at 7 p.m. this evening.
Both Amar’e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups are listed as questionable for the Knicks — with Billups expected to be inactive while Stoudemire will probably be a game-time decision. Regardless, neither player will be at 100 percent for tonight’s game.
For Boston, only Shaquille O’Neal showed up on the Celtics injury report, giving the edge in to Boston as the Knicks try to win their first playoff game at Madison Square Garden since a first round victory over the Toronto Raptors 10 years ago today.
Boston will again need big contributions from the Big Three as Kevin Garnett came up big last game while Ray Allen’s huge three-pointer late in Game 1 was the eventual game-winning basket after Carmelo Anthony failed to deliver on the offensive end for the Knicks. Will Paul Pierce deliver the late game heroics tonight?
He might not have to, as NBA.com’s John Schumann pointed out today that the Knicks’ are still struggling with chemistry issues since their two best players — Stoudemire and Anthony — have played just 27 games together after the mid-season trade that brought ’Melo from Denver. The biggest issue, according to Schumann, is that despite their offensive prowess, the Knicks seem to be worse on defense when their two biggest stars are in the game together.
If the Celtics win tonight, their chance to close out the series will come on Sunday afternoon. With an aging roster, a four-game sweep — and the couple days of rest it would entail — might be just enough motivation for Boston to do everything in it’s power to keep New York winless at home in the playoffs for yet another season.
For more on this series, be sure to stay tuned to this Story Stream as well as SB Nation’s Celtics vs. Knicks hub. For more on the Celtics, visit Celtics Blog. For more on the Knicks, check out Posting and Toasting and SB Nation New York.