Watch It! - Knicks at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
New York is riding a four-game winning streak and it’s due in large part to 3-point shooting. The Knicks have hit 41.3 percent of their long-range attempts during the streak, which is a solid spike from their season rate of 36.9 percent.
Don’t be surprised, however, if the Knicks aren’t quite as successful at hitting their 3s tonight. Boston heads into tonight’s game having limited opponents to 21.6 percent shooting from 3-point range this month.
The Celtics will take the floor tonight for the second time in as many days, and that’s not a good thing.
Boston heads into tonight’s game with a 4-11 record in the second night of back-to-backs. Its offense has struggled mightily in the tail end of such sets, having scored an average of just 95.6 PPG on 43.1 percent shooting.
It will be a challenge for the Celtics to shake off their back-to-back struggles tonight. They fought hard against the Pacers Tuesday night in a game that came down to the final minute. Then they had to travel back to Boston, likely returning to their homes in the early hours of Wednesday morning. With all of that in mind, the Celtics could show some fatigue tonight.
Speaking of back-to-backs, Rajon Rondo doesn’t play in them, which means the star point guard will not be on the floor tonight for the Boston Celtics.
The C’s have actually gone 3-2 in games that Rondo has missed since his return on Jan. 17. His absence from tonight’s game, however, will feel much different than the previous five.
Brad Stevens inserts Phil Pressey into the starting lineup when Rondo does not play. The trio of Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace and Jared Sullinger has surrounded Pressey in the starting lineup during three of those five games. Tonight’s group will resemble that group in the least bit, as Wallace is out for the season with a torn meniscus and Sullinger has been coming off the bench of late.
Yes, the Celtics have won without Rondo since his return, but tonight’s attempt to do so will be much different than those of the past.
No Chandler, Amar’e for New York
Four straight wins have propelled the Knicks back into the playoff picture, but not all is good and well for New York. Media reports say that the team will be without its top two big men, Tyson Chandler (personal reasons) and Amar’e Stoudemire (rest), tonight.
The absence of Chandler cannot be overstated. He is New York’s rim protector and had logged three consecutive double-doubles prior to missing Monday’s win over Philadelphia. Chandler is averaging 12.4 points per game and 15.2 rebounds per game this month.
Stoudemire, meanwhile, has had his best month of the season after being inserted into the starting lineup on March 3. He has put up March averages of 17.3 PPG on 64.2 percent shooting to go along with 6.5 RPG.
There’s no denying that Chandler and Stoudemire have been playing at a high level this month. Missing their production tonight will be a major blow to New York, and it will open things up for Boston’s bigs to have their way around the basket.
The Celtics hung around with the conference-best Pacers Tuesday night thanks to an incredible performance on the offensive glass. Boston grabbed 20 offensive boards against Indiana that led to 25 second-chance points.
Maintaining such a level of effort on the offensive glass tonight could go a long way. Without Chandler and Stoudemire, New York’s only true big men will be Jeremy Tyler and Cole Aldrich, who have combined to average 14.4 minutes of playing time per game this season.
If we’ve learned anything about Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries, it’s that they’re going to attack the glass on every possession. Doing so against New York’s lackluster frontcourt could push Boston to a win tonight.