When: Monday, Jan 7, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Madison Square Garden
The Boston Celtics have gotten off to a slow start for the second straight season. During last years shortened season, Boston turned it all the way around, and ended up winning three games in the conference finals.
A combination of rookies and free agent pickups, have derailed the excellence that the basketball world has been accustomed to. However, Boston looks to be rounding out at full strength with the addition of Avery Bradley from injury. Right now Boston is one game under 500 with a (16-17) record, and they sit six games behind the first place Knicks.
The New York Knicks (23-10) have battled many injuries from all sorts of players throughout the season. Every week, the Knicks starting rotation has changed, but the formula remains the same. As long as New York plays tough defense and shoots the three consistently well, they are tough to beat on a nightly basis.
Two of the best scoring forwards in recent history will be going head to head, barring any setbacks. Paul Pierce averages a shade below 20 points per game, and he is able to hit winning shots night in and night out. Carmelo Anthony is a younger version of the Celtic Legend. Anthony is averaging 29 points per game for the Atlantic division leading Knicks.
Another great match up is at the point guard position. With Raymond Felton out, Rajon Rondo is bringing his game against Jason Kidd. They play similar styles, and both are threats to garner a triple double. Rondo is leading the league in assists with 11.3. Defensively, Rondo has to watch for Jason Kidd shooting from long range. They both average two steals per game.
Even the Knicks aren’t a great rebounding team, Tyson Chandler gets earns many extra possessions with his long arms on the offensive end. Kevin Garnett is the Celtics most consistent rebounder, but Rondo may be the most important. When Rondo is dominating the glass, the Celtics are usually getting out on the break for easy baskets.
The bench play for the Knicks is very important. New York has explosive scorers on the bench. J.R. Smith is the Knicks best player at times, and he is developing a significant clutch gene. Smith has hit two game winners this season as time expired.
While it’s only an early January game, this is the first game between New York and Boston. For that fact alone, this game should have a little extra juice in the Garden.
The Celtics will have a tough time if Steve Novak is getting good looks at the basket. When he is on fire, the Knicks have been almost unbeatable. The days Novak can’t get good shots up, those are the days that the Knicks are struggling with ball movement.
Jeff Green is the one wing player that can attack the basket and shoot it from deep. Jeff Green brings athleticism to an aging Boston team. He will be very important in a game like tonight.
Tonight will be Amare Stoudamire’s fourth game back from a knee injury. In his short stint, Amare is averaging nine points per game.
New York has been notably focused in high profile games, and they usually play very well. Look for a lot of energy from both teams, however. Boston wants to make a statement against the Knicks on Monday. They also want to keep in contact with the division lead.
New York Knicks 102
Boston Celtics 98
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