Watch It! - Celtics at Knicks
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Madison Square Garden.
It was evident during Friday night’s loss to the Thunder that the Celtics simply didn’t have any legs. That shouldn’t be the case when Boston visits New York at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Brad Stevens has set the Celtics up nicely from a physical standpoint. They held a brief practice on Saturday and then took on the Nets at 6:30 p.m. Sunday night. Stevens then opted to give the team Monday off as it traveled to Manhattan.
The C’s will now have had almost two full days off by the time it tips off with the Knicks tonight. Yes, they traveled on Monday, but a short 45-minute flight shouldn’t have any lingering effects on the team when it takes the court.
Can Bass Slow Melo?
Brandon Bass has proven to be one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA over the course of the past couple of seasons. He can guard the prototypical power forward on most nights, but when he’s asked to do so, he can also man up on some of the most dynamic small forwards in the league.
We just saw this Sunday night, when Stevens inserted Bass into the starting lineup to defend Paul Pierce, who is playing power forward for the Nets. Bass helped limit Pierce to just six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Bass has gotten the call to defend Carmelo Anthony on many occasions in the past, including a couple of times this season. He and the rest of the Celtics have limited Anthony to just 35.9 percent shooting in two meetings this season. It will likely be Bass’ job yet again to slow down Anthony, who has scored 97 points in his last two games.
Shake the Shooting Slump
January has been a brutal month for the Celtics. A couple of key injuries have set off a trickle-down effect that has resulted in a 2-13 record.
Boston has been playing without Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless for basically the last five games. Those two players are the team’s top two options at shooting guard. The absence of Bradley and Bayless has caused a lack of spacing and shot-making abilities for the C’s. Boston has shot just 40.5 percent from the field during those past five games en route to a 1-4 record.
Simply put, you can’t win in this league unless you make shots. The Celtics have continued to play solid defense but they will need to score points in order to take home a win a Madison Square Garden. There is a chance that they may receive a boost by the possible return of either Bradley or Bayless.
Dec. 8 was a great day for the Celtics. It was a terrible day for the Knicks.
Boston marched into MSG for a Sunday afternoon matinee and annihilated its Atlantic Division rival. Fans were booing the Knicks throughout the game as the Celtics ran away with an astounding 114-73 victory.
Both of these teams are going to remember that day vividly as they head into tonight’s matchup. The C’s will use it as their blueprint to success against the Knicks, while New York will use it as motivation for revenge on their home court.
New York’s Injury Bug
The Knicks are going to be without a trio of key players when they take the floor for this game. Unfortunately for New York, all three of those players have shown to be assets against Boston this season.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow), Amar’e Stoudemire (ankle) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) have all suffered injuries this month and are currently listed by the Knicks as ‘out.’ Bargnani has missed New York’s last two games, while Stoudemire and Martin have missed the last five.
During these teams’ meeting on Dec. 13, Bargnani shined while scoring 22 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists. Martin was also solid in that game, as he tallied eight points and seven rebounds as New York’s starting power forward. Stoudemire, meanwhile, has been an explosive scorer off the bench against Boston this season. He scored 17.5 points per game on 75 percent shooting in these teams’ previous two meetings.