Watch It! – Knicks at Celtics

Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.

Lucky No. 13

The number 13 isn’t typically referred to as lucky. The Celtics, however, may change that tonight.

Boston has a chance to complete a five-game sweep of its homestand tonight when it hosts the Knicks. Doing so would give it a 13-game winning streak at home, its longest since the 2008-09 season.

To put this streak into context, the 2008 championship team never even won 13 in a row at home. It sure would feel as if luck and fortune are on Boston’s side if it is able to pull out another victory tonight.

Middling Knicks

Remember when New York was in the playoff conversation? Yeah, that feels like eons ago.

The Knicks have gone from looking like a competitive, up-and-coming team to plummeting right back to where they had been viewed over the previous couple of seasons, as a middling franchise. New York has lost 15 of its last 18 games, and during that timespan it has fired its coach and had its star player tell a fan at Madison Square Garden to ask the team’s owner for a ticket refund.

Clearly, things aren’t going so well right now for the guys in orange and blue. This Knicks team is currently one of the worst in the league.

Call on the Reserves

One of the keys to Boston’s success this season has been its bench. That group may prove to be the deciding factor for the C’s again tonight.

Such was the case during the last matchup between these two teams on Feb. 2, as Boston’s reserves combined to score 47 points on 50.0 percent shooting. Tyler Zeller (16 points, 10 rebounds), Evan Turner (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Kelly Olynyk (13 points, five rebounds) were all stellar that night.

New York’s bench is made up of a bunch of young and talented players, but those guys are not on the same level as Boston’s reserves. This part of tonight’s matchup is a clear advantage for the home team.

The Setup

The topic above could play a substantial role in whether or not the Celtics are set up for success Saturday night, when they take on the East-leading Cavaliers in Cleveland.

Boston would love nothing more than to have its team put forth a dominant effort tonight that is led by its reserves. Doing so would allow the C’s to rest their starters more than normal during the first night of a back-to-back.

Extra rest would be important for three players in particular: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, who are all critical to Boston’s success against the Cavaliers. While playing against a loaded team like Cleveland, the C’s need Thomas to carry the scoring load, and they need Bradley and Crowder to bring their best at the defensive end. Providing such play tomorrow becomes less and less likely as these players log more and more minutes tonight.

Which Porzingis Shows Up?

Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis has shown the world this season that he is capable of becoming a superstar. However, as a rookie, he is plagued by inconsistency.

Since Feb. 2, the day these teams last met, Porzingis has logged seven games of at least 17 points. During that same timespan, however, he has also scored 11 or fewer points on five occasions.

One such occasion was during that matchup with Boston. The C’s, thanks in large part to a unique decision to have 6-foot-4 Marcus Smart defend Porzingis, limited the 7-foot-3 big man to only 10 points and five boards. This occurred after Porzingis had averaged 21.0 points and 9.0 rebounds against Boston during these teams’ first two matchups.

Which Porzingis will show up tonight? Only time will tell.

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