10/24 Game Preview: Knicks at Celtics
BOSTON -- Injuries opened the door for the entire roster to be asked to contribute as the Boston Celtics navigate their way through the early NBA schedule.
Twelve players saw time Friday night in Boston's win at Philadelphia, and that is likely to be the case again when the Celtics host the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
"Every one of them should think there's a good chance that (they) get an opportunity to impact the game on Tuesday night," Boston coach Brad Stevens said Sunday. "There's not a guy on this roster who shouldn't think that right now. It may or not be their night. But we're in a situation where we need everybody."
Boston started the season without newly acquired Marcus Morris, who has been out with a knee injury and has targeted Oct. 30 for his Celtics debut. Then, less than six minutes into the first game, major free agent signee Gordon Hayward was lost, probably for the season, with a horrific ankle/leg injury.
Marcus Smart missed the game in Philly with an ankle injury.
The Celtics won that night, improving to 1-2 while playing three games in the first four nights of the season.
In addition to heavy reliance on rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year man Jaylen Brown, names such as Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird, Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis have been asked to step in. All have contributed in their own way.
The Celtics, hoping to get back to .500 on Tuesday night, face a team that seems to be Kristaps Porzingis and little else. Porzingis has scored 31 and 33 points in the first two games of the season, becoming the first Knick with back-to-back 30-point games to start a season since Patrick Ewing did it in 1993-94.
"Patrick Ewing is a legend," Porzingis said. "I wish I could have a career like him. It's an honor."
The Knicks reached the NBA Finals in 1994, but that is not going to happen to this season's team.
Jeff Hornacek's team exploded to a 21-point first-half lead in the home opener against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night -- and then fell to 0-2.
New York failed to play defense or rebound down the stretch Saturday. Defense remains a focus for Hornacek.
"We want them to be at least 90 percent," Hornacek said, regarding a player's defensive efficiency. "That's the goal. You can do things nine out of 10 times right and we get the whole team to do that, we'll be OK."
The Celtics have taken each of the past three season series between the old rivals 3-1, but the Knicks did split two games in Boston last season.
Boston guard Kyrie Irving, who was fined $25,000 for a lewd comment directed at a heckler in Philadelphia on Friday, struggled with his shot the past two games.
Irving, who has to lead the young team, shot 8-for-17 in the opener, including 4-for-9 from 3-point range. However, he is 14-for-42 from the floor and 3-for-11 from downtown in the past two games combined.
Smart is still considered day-to-day, but he didn't practice on Monday.
Enes Kanter, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds in New York's loss Saturday, could present a problem for the Celtics inside. He averaged 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 11 games against Boston while with the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder.