Monday's matchup between Boston and New York doesn't have any postseason implications, but a lot of pride will be on the line.

The Celtics will be trying to complete a season sweep of the woeful Knicks when the teams square off at Madison Square Garden.

Boston (64-16) owns the best record in the NBA and has already wrapped up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. New York (23-57), meanwhile, is better than only Miami in the conference and has long since been out of the playoff hunt.

With Donnie Walsh replacing Isiah Thomas as Knicks president of basketball operations earlier this month, this could be Thomas' last home game as New York's coach. Thomas is 56-106 in two seasons as coach, and the Knicks haven't had a winning record or won a playoff game since he joined the organization in December 2003.

"I've been here since bad times and I would love to be here in good times," Knicks guard Jamal Crawford said. "You try to stay patient and stay professional as possible. On the other side of that, you can't really worry about stuff you can't control. If they think it's best to make some major moves, they have to do that."

The disparity between the Atlantic Division rivals has been clear in the first three meetings this season, as the Celtics have outscored the Knicks by an average of 23.0 points. Boston is trying to sweep the season series for the first time since 2002-03, when it won all four meetings for the second straight season.

The Celtics have won five straight overall against the Knicks and five straight at Madison Square Garden.

However, the Knicks might not have to deal with Boston's biggest threats in this meeting. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce each played fewer than 25 minutes in Boston's 102-86 win over Milwaukee on Friday night and played just three quarters in a 99-89 win over Atlanta the following night.

The Celtics have won nine of their last 10 games.

"At halftime I told our coaches I thought we honestly had a better chance to win tonight with our second unit than our starters," coach Doc Rivers said. "You could just see it, in that third quarter, that their energy was low.

"I said, 'Listen guys, I don't know if we're going to win or lose, but we're not going to play this way.'"

Garnett scored 24 points and reserve Sam Cassell added 20 - his most since joining Boston as a free agent on March 4. The 38-year-old guard had 15 points in the decisive fourth quarter.

The Knicks had their three-game winning streak snapped on Friday, falling 116-104 to the Hawks. New York needs one more win to avoid tying the franchise record of 59 losses, which it set just two years ago during Larry Brown's only season as coach.

Crawford scored 20 points and rookie Wilson Chandler chipped in 18 - his average over his last four games.

"Personally I feel good," Chandler said, "but from a team standpoint we're not winning so it's kind of tough to be happy all the time."


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