The Boston Celtics return home to the TD Garden tonight to square off for the fourth and final time this season against the New York Knicks.
Boston is coming off a 94-83 road loss to the Indiana Pacers last night, a game that saw the Celtics pull within one point in the fourth quarter before the Pacers finally managed to put them away. As staff writer Mark Puelo wrote last night, chalk that game up to a moral victory . . . but a loss is a loss, and that loss took a lot out of the Celtics, who now need to turn their attention to the well-rested, and fairly hot, Knicks.
New York has not played since Monday, and enter tonight’s game riding a four-game winning streak. Over this stretch, the Knicks are going off for 114 points per game, and have hit 50 of the 121 3-point shots they have launched, good for 41.3 percent. It’s not just Carmelo Anthony doing all of the damage, either – he’s getting help from his teammates for once! In the Knicks 123-110 victory over Philadelphia Monday, four Knicks scored over 20 points, led by rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr., who scored 28. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Knicks are averaging 23.5 assists per game during this streak, since lack of ball movement has absolutely killed New York this season.
Of course, it should be noted that the Knicks’ opponents during this current winning streak have been Minnesota, Utah, Cleveland, and Philadelphia – starting to get a better feel for why they are winning lately? The combined winning percentage of those teams is .366, and the Knicks will follow up tonight’s game against Boston against the NBA’s worst team, the Milwaukee Bucks, on Saturday. Still, good teams take advantage of the weak spots in their schedule, and while no one is confusing the Knicks for a good team right about now, you still have to tip your hat to them for taking care of the cupcakes on their schedule.
Rajon Rondo is not scheduled to play tonight, since this is the second game in a back-to-back set, so you might consider Boston to be yet another cupcake for the Knicks to dispose of easily. Tune in tonight at 7:30 to find out if that is, indeed, the case! Follow me on Twitter throughout the game – @HoudiniCeltics and @theamazingMrS – and check out my reactions following the game!