The staggering Celtics head to the Big Apple tonight to visit the rival Knicks. The last time these two teams met, the
Celtics emerged victors thanks to five combined threes and 31 total points from Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee. Fast forward a month and a half later. Lee has been shipped off to Memphis and Bradley is out for the next few weeks with a sprained ankle. The Knicks second and third leading scorers in that previous matchup, Amare Stoudemire and Andre Bargaini, are both sidelined with long-term injuries.
While both of these teams have lost a lot of punch since their December meeting, both teams have also gained. For the Celtics, the most obvious addition is star guard Rajon Rondo. Now in his sixth game back, Rondo has shown signs of progression from the rust and regression to his former domination. He played a season high 30 minutes on Sunday night, coming up two assists and two rebounds shy of a triple double. The rust is still evident, though, as he tallied six turnovers as well.
The addition for the Knicks is more of an improvement. And by improvement, I mean mega-hot-streak. Averaging 48.5 points per game in the Knicks last two games, Carmelo has proved once again that he may very well be the most natural and smooth scorer in the league. In last Friday’s loss to the Clippers, Anthony managed to pull down 20 rebounds while also distributing seven assists in last Wednesday’s loss to the 76ers. Anthony’s success is most crucial for the Knicks. In the last two wins, Anthony has shot 55%. But in the five losses prior, he shot just 37%. Slowing down Anthony, who leads the league in shots attempted per game, should be the Celtics top priority tonight.
If the Celtics (3-17 in last 20 games) want to win tonight, they’re going to need major production from Jeff Green. In their most recent win over the Wizards, the Celtics saw Green look like the star they envisioned as he drained 8 threes and tallied 39 points. But on Sunday night’s loss to the Nets, the Green that showed up was the one that Celtics fans have become far too familiar with.
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