After suffering the loss of Kevin Garnett due to a ridiculous suspention, the Celtics were forced to play host to the New York Knicks Tuesday night without their All-star power forward. Despite almost blowing a 14 point fourth quarter lead, the C's were able to escape with a 110-101 victory over the now 6-5 Knicks.
Keys to Victory:
Equal distribution of contributions: The five players on the Celtics who played the most minutes last night (all 28+ mins) were Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, Ray Allen, and Kendrick Perkins. All five took between 9 and 14 shots, 4 of the 5 had 14-16 points (Pierce, who had 22, was inside that domain until he handled all of the C's possesions late in the game and got to the line 7 times in the last 2 mins), and with the team's leading rebounder out of the game, 4 of the 5 grabbed 7 or 8 boards (the exception being Allen). When one of your big guns goes down, everyone else has to fill in the missing pieces, and that's exactly what Boston was able to do last night.
Size does Matter: The Knicks are currently missed the four tallest guys on their roster: Jared Jeffries (6-11), Eddie Curry (6-11), Danilo Gallinari (6-10), and Jerome James (7-1). This meant that last night Zack Randolph (6-8), a natural power forward, was forced to start at center and match-up against 7 foot Kendrick Perkins. Not only that, but the bench players who entered to man-up on Boston's big boy were David Lee and Malik Rose, both of whom are incredibly undersized, and they got absolutely toasted. The Knicks might as well have put Nate Robinson on Kendrik the way Perk was backing their "centers" down into the paint for easy layins. In the first half Powe was able to do much of the same (although he is only 6-8 himself).
The Celtics' defense suffered without Garnett: This statement is only somewhat true. While the 101 points allowed to New York was 12 points higher than their season average of 89.7 points per game allowed, that is also 4 points less than the Knicks PPG average of 105.2. So while you obviously want to see KG in the lineup every night, it is good to see that the C's can still function both offensively and defensively against a winning team (Knicks were 6-4 entering the game) without a key member of the big three.