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Pregame warmup

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  April 22, 2011 05:26 PM

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A brief starting five on tonight's Celtics-Knicks showdown while wondering if Spike Lee and Ray Allen ever talked about a sequel . . .

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1. I'm probably a little bit irrational when it comes to Rajon Rondo's capabilities. I'm convinced he can use that Plastic Man athleticism and uncanny smarts to get to the hoop pretty much at will, even out of the half-court sets or when his man is sagging off him. I don't understand why he's so passive sometimes, and I don't think Doc does, either. Is it stubbornness? Boredom? Whatever the reason, it's imperative that he plays with the same intensity that he showed in Game 2, when his mission seemed to be to humiliate Toney Douglas to the point that even the Knicks guard's dearest loved ones mocked his defensive incompetence. Rondo needs to show up with that killer instinct tonight, and we should know early just how engaged -- and mean -- he is feeling.

2. One other duty for Rondo: make a concerted effort to get Jeff Green involved when they're on the court together. The transition from the freewheeling Thunder to the Celtics hasn't been easy for Green, and rather than progressing he's been . . . well, abysmal probably isn't too cruel of a word choice, to be honest. He's shooting just 33 percent from the field in this series in 14.5 minutes per game, and his defense has been so ineffective that you'd think he played for Mike D'Antoni. But Green has had instant chemistry on the fast break with Rondo since virtually upon arrival, and perhaps getting a couple of quick and easy baskets in transition will be what gets him going. Yes, he's played terribly. But he's far from a terrible player, and it's up to the point guard to help him show what he can do.

kingfinn420.jpg3. From a basketball junkie's standpoint, it was a joy to watch Carmelo Anthony's 42-point performance in Game 2. (From a Celtics fan's standpoint, it was much easier to laud him after the Knicks came up three points short.) When he splashed that fading, in-your-face 3-pointer over Pierce, it was the clearest reminder yet of why the Knicks essentially gutted their roster -- rumor is that Rory Sparrow is starting at the point tonight if Chauncey Billups can't go -- to unite him with Amar'e Stoudemire: Despite Anthony's casual indifference to defense, the man is a ridiculously skilled scorer and legitimately one of the league's true superstars. It was cool to hear him compared to the scoring machine pictured in the basketball card over there, who is probably in my starting five among all-time favorite non-Celtics. The comparison isn't quite perfect -- King got most of his points from both posts with his quick and deadly array of full-extension jumpers, while Melo is bigger and a more versatile scorer. (King made just 23 threes in his NBA career, shooting 17.2 percent; Melo has made 25 over his last seven games.) But there's no doubt the two belong on a very elite roster of pure scorers in the history of the sport.

4. I don't know what's bothering Big Baby, though I suspect more than one of his coaches/teammates told him he really shouldn't be taking more jump shots in a game than Ray Allen, or even KG for that matter. There was one sequence in Game 2 where he was wide-open at the left elbow, and Rondo spotted him, appeared to say something, then delivered the pass. Baby hesitated, looked at the rim . . . and didn't shoot. I don't know if he's pouting or if he just isn't sure what's considered a good shot at the moment, but he needs to get past it and/or figure out what Doc wants from him sooner rather than later. The playoffs are no time to worry about your touches.

5. Some series-appropriate vintage NBA, just to set the mood:

Bernard duels Isiah (the best little man in NBA history in my '80s-centric opinion) . . .

. . . and Larry one-ups 'Nique.

Bernard drops 60 on the Nets (featuring a rare public appearance by Mike Gminski's beard) . . .

. . . and Larry drops 60 on the Hawks (you probably know to watch the reaction of the end of Atlanta's bench. Priceless).

What's that? Why, yes, it always does come back to Larry now that you mention it.

* * *

Today's media column on former NESN and current MSG reporter Tina Cervasio is here. There's also some stuff on the WEEI/98.5 ratings battle, but I trust you've heard enough about that.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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