NBA Playoffs Preview: Analyzing, Predicting Game 3 of New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

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NBA Preview: Analyzing and Predicting Game 3 of Knicks-Celtics

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Debby Wong-USA Today Sports

The New York Knicks have fought hard to a 2-0 series lead in their opening round matchup against the Boston Celtics, but Game 3 is set to be the team's greatest test thus far. While the first two contests were in front of a New York-friendly crowd at Madison Square Garden, the next two are set to be in front of a rowdy Boston crowd at TD Garden.

Not that shifting from the Big Apple to Beantown makes that much of a difference, but every sports nut knows that Boston fans are no joke and will yell and scream from start to finish just to give their teams that little extra bit of momentum.

It should also be noted that the Celtics are extremely hungry for a win. Head coach Doc Rivers was vocal to the point of being fined for his remarks about the officiating following Game 2, and Boston is sure to be playing a little angry.

On New York's end, it's going to be all about winning and taking a 3-0 lead. That puts them one win away from a trip to the Conference Semifinals, and big games will be needed from everyone including and apart from star scorers Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.

That means fighting past the strong defensive attack of Boston, not an easy task for any team. This team may be old, but one thing is certain.

That means fighting past the strong defensive attack of Boston, not an easy task for any team. This team may be old, but one thing is certain.

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Key Storyline: Can Knicks Ride Momentum to Game 3 Victory on Road?

keystoryline
Debby Wong-USA Today Sports

The Knicks were able to win the first two games of the series at Madison Square Garden, the key aspect of both being the team's scoring attack coming through when it mattered. Boston led at points of both games, and New York's key scorers in Smith and Anthony were able to overcome slow starts and finish strong.

But that's going to be much tougher in Game 3. Boston is on its home court, and they'll be damned if they're going to get absolutely manhandled again. This game is going to be close from beginning to end, and the losing team is going to have to shake the loss off quickly in order to enter Game 4 with a new attitude.

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Knicks Player to Watch: Tyson Chandler

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Tom Szczerbowski-USA Today Sports

In the playoffs thus far, Chandler has not been his usual dominant and defensive self. This can be attributed to him not quite being at full strength and in top conditioning form after missing most of the season's final weeks due to a bulging disc in his neck, and his performance for the Knicks has not been up to its usual standard over the series' first two games.

Over that stretch, Chandler is averaging just 1.5 points and five rebounds over 21 minutes per game, shooting a mere 25 percent from the field after shooting 64 percent from the field during the regular season.

Granted, Chandler has had some time off between games to work on getting his conditioning back, but just how well the Knicks do in this game could depend heavily on how his game is. Unless he starts getting some of his dominant nature back, it's going to be an uphill battle for his teammates.

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Celtics Player to Watch: Kevin Garnett

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Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

Even with his 37th birthday fast approaching, the 6-11, 253 pound Garnett has continued to prove that he is still one of the best defensive players in the NBA. In his 18th season, he posted 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.

That said, why is Garnett the Boston player to watch in Game 3? Well, like New York's Chandler, he has also struggled this postseason. Sure, he is averaging 10 points and rebounds per game, but only shooting 38 percent from the field.

Garnett also got into early foul trouble in Game 2, plus suffered a hip injury. If any Celtic is looking to have a solid game tonight, it's him.

Just how well he performs remains to be seen, but mark my words. This man will have an extra bounce in his step for Game 3.

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X-Factor: Kenyon Martin

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Debby Wong-USA Today Sports

If Chandler is off his game just a little bit, it's going to be up to Martin to pick up the slack in the paint. Though he did not sign with the Knicks until after the All-Star Game, his impact has been notable.

The 35-year-old Martin averaged 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18 games for New York this season, but has been an absolute beast in the postseason. In his team's two games, he has averaged 6.5 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game.

His defense and explosiveness is the key to New York taking a 3-0 lead in the series and if Boston can find a way to contain both him and Chandler, then the Celtics' chances of winning will dramatically increase.

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Prediction

finalscore
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

As much as I would love my beloved Knicks to win this game, it's hard to believe that the Celtics will fall down and die once again on their home court. Thus, in a game that's going to be a dogfight from start to finish, I'm picking Boston to win this one.

Garnett won't necessarily be at his best, but teammates Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will be as clutch as they can be in the third game against the rival Knicks.

This win won't necessarily swing all of the momentum in Boston's favor, but it certainly will let the fans know that this aging squad isn't down and out just yet.

Boston Celtics 95, New York Knicks 90

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