Celtics Visit The Other Garden Looking to Sweep Division Foe

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BostonCeltics (48-28) at NY Knicks (27-49)
Tuesday, April 6
7:30 PM ET
Game #77, Road Game #38
TV: MSG, CSN-NE, NBA LP 757, 758
Madison Square Garden

Referees:  Mike Callahan,  Derek Richardson,  Haywoode Workman 

The Celtics are trying to build some momentum going into the playoffs. They are coming off a big win over the Cavs on Sunday and need to win games against the lottery teams like the Knicks or winning that game would be meaningless. The Celtics are fighting with Atlanta for the 3rd seed and trying to build momentum going into the playoffs. Every game is important for them for those two reasons. Atlanta is playing in Charlotte without their star, Joe Johnson. A win could pull the Celtics even with them or at worse keep them 1 game behind. A loss may drop them 2 games behind.

The Celtics are 21-1 in road games against Atlantic division teams in the new Big 3 era. The only road loss to a division rival was a 100-88 loss to New York on Jan. 4, 2009. Since that loss, the Celtics have won 12 in a row on the road against Atlantic division foes. They are also 3-0 against New York this season.

This will be the Celtics first visit to Madison Square Garden since the trade that brought Nate Robinson to Boston and sent Eddie House, Bill Walker and JR Giddens to New York. Nate's playing time has decreased sharply lately and he did not play Sunday for the first time in 22 games since he joined the team. Nate doesn't figure to be in the playoff roster at this point, but it isn't clear whether he will play in NY where he was a fan favorite, even though he was constantly in the coach's dog house there. While Eddie House's play has been up and down, Bill Walker has moved into the starting 5 for the Knicks and is making the most of his playing time there.

New York avoided going winless on a five-game road swing by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 113-107 on Sunday. They had were on a 4 game losing streak before winning their last game. The Celtics were on a 3 game losing streak at home before beating the Cavs there on Sunday. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last ten games and 24-13 on the road while the Knicks are 4-6 in their last ten games and 16-22 at home.

The Celtics can't afford to take the Knicks for granted. The Knicks have nothing to play for other than pride and ping pong balls. But, against the Celtics, often their pride overrules their desire for a higher draft pick. The Celtics have a game in Toronto on Wednesday so it would be nice to put this team away early and get some rest for the starters in the 4th quarter.
Probable Starting Matchups
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Rajon Rondo vs Chris Duhon

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Ray Allen vs Bill Walker

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Paul Pierce vs Al Harrington

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Kevin Garnett vs Danilo Gallinari

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Kendrick Perkins vs David Lee

Eddy Curry (calf) out
Jonathan Bender (finger) out
Wilson Chandler (groin) out
Tracy McGrady (knee) questionable

Key Matchups 

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Kendrick Perkins vs David Lee
David Lee has been playing very well and has been one of the bright spots for a Knicks team that is once again heading for the lottery. Lee is a handful for anyone to guard and Perk will need help from his teammates to try to contain him, especially since he is still struggling with a sore knee.

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Rajon Rondo vs Chris Duhon
The point guard matchup is key in any game. Teams are finding that if they can slow down Rondo, they can slow down the Celtics. Rondo has been playing very well of late and he needs to continue his aggressive play on both ends of the court.

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Bill Walker
With McGrady out, Bill Walker moved into the starting shooting guard spot. Walker is finally getting playing time and is producing for the Knicks. Ray is coming off his best game this season and hopefully will continue with his hot shooting in this game.

Keys to the Game
Defense Defense is the key to winning not only this game but the championship. The Celtics still need to work on tightening their defense up as they are still allowing too many easy baskets, especially in the second half of games.

Rebound The Celtics need to make a concerted effort to grab rebounds on both the offensive and defensive ends. David Lee is very good at tip ins and put backs and the Knicks will be looking to run on defensive rebounds so the Celtics must crash the boards to limit both of those options for the Knicks. Rebounding is another area the Celtics need to improve on if they want to go deep into the playoffs.

Focus When the Celtics are focused on team play, they are very hard to beat. But, they seem to lose focus in some games, especially in the second half. The Celtics need to keep their focus on team play and on defense throughout the game. They need to play 48 minutes and not just 2 or 3 quarters. 

X Factor 
Let Down Game
After putting out a lot of energy against the Cavs, the Celtics could let down because they are only playing the Knicks.  Hopefully they will take this game as seriously as they did the Cavs.  In the fight for the 3rd seed, every game is important as is building momentum going into the playoffs. 

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