New York Knicks (25-37) vs. Boston Celtics (37-25)
TD Bank Garden (7:30 p.m.)
TV: MSG, Radio: ESPN NY 98.7
The Knicks return to action after a two-day break in Boston, where they'll look to bounce back from a 104-85 loss to the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. New York nearly kept pace with Portland's offense in the first half -- even as Damian Lillard exploded for 14 points in a less-than-three-minute span -- but C.J. McCollum scored 21 of his 25 points in the scond half and Kurt Rambis' squad was not able to answer as the Blazers pulled away.
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds, but the rest of the team shot just 34 percent from the field. In order to compete against the Celtics tonight, they'll need to muster more than the 11 assists they tallied on Tuesday.
News and Notes:
- Arron Afflalo returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous game with knee and thigh injuries. The shooting guard logged 36 minutes, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
- Kyle O'Quinn provided a spark off the bench, finishing with 11 points and 9 rebounds in 25 minutes as the Knicks' lone true big man off the bench.
- Boston sits in third place in the Eastern Conference entering tonight thanks to a deep rotation that excels on the defensive end. Not only does Brad Stevens' club allow the third-fewest points per possession in the entire NBA, but it also has moved up to ninth in offensive efficiency. Despite a lack of starpower relative to other contenders, that's a recipe for contention.
- Isaiah Thomas earned his first All-Star selection by leading the Celtics in scoring (21.6 PPG) and assists (6.7 APG), but Jae Crowder might be Boston's most indespensible player; the wing who came from Dallas in exchange for Rajon Rondo is versatile stopper who ranks 20th in the league in real plus-minus -- a metric that accounts for overall impact on the floor.
- Stevens utilizes a four-man frontcourt rotation: Kelly Olynyk shoots over 40 percent from 3, Jared Sullinger leads the team in rebounding, and Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson provide depth and playmaking from the mid post. All are above-average passers and together, they provide lineup flexibility.