The New York Knicks (13-16) and the Boston Celtics (14-15) last met at Madison Square Garden in an opening night, double-overtime thriller that the Knicks won 138-134. Julius Randle led New York with 35 points, and Evan Fournier chipped in 32. What a season we expected after that game.
On Thursday, the shorthanded Knicks (13-16) defeated the Houston Rockets, 116-103. The team won despite having four players in health and safety protocols and got incredible performances by Deuce McBride and Immanuel Quickley. In his coming-out party, McBride scored 15 points, nine assists, four steals, and zero turnovers in 36 minutes, and shot 6-for-11 from the field. Quickley went 7-for-10 from deep and finished with 24 points.
The final box score tells the tale (and give Derrick Rose a pass because he left the game early with a sore ankle):
The Celtics are playing the second game of a back-to-back after losing to the Golden State Warriors, 111-107. A win would tie New York with Boston in the standings. Can they do it?
Tip-off’s at 7:00 PM, chowdaheads.
New York has six players in health and safety protocols, including McBride, Quickley, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, and Kevin Knox II. With Rose listed as day-to-day, will Thibs start Alec Burks at point guard again? Or will the cantankerous coach recognize the dire need, swallow his pride, and release Kemba Walker from the doghouse? Does he have a choice?
Welcome to the Knicks, Tyler Hall!
Knicks signed Tyler Hall via the hardship exception. Hall, a 6-5 guard, is averaging 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the Westchester Knicks. NYK currently has six players in NBA health and safety protocols.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) December 18, 2021
Boston has a handful of players out, but expect to see a few familiar faces.
PG Marcus Smart has averaged 10.7 points and 5.6 assists this year and leads the league with 57 steals. He’s shooting 37.8% from the field, 27% from deep, and making 1.3 of 4.7 attempts. His 48% true shooting is down in the seventh percentile. Forget those facts, though; whenever Smart plays the Knicks, he shoots 110% from long when the game’s on the line. It’s ludicrous how hot he gets against New York.
SG Jaylen Brown has averaged 21.2 points and 5.1 rebounds this season, and is shooting 46.3% from the field, 37% from deep. His 46-piece on October 20 was second to Larry Bird’s 47 for most points scored by a Celtic against the Knicks. Good company.
SF Jayson Tatum is shooting 42.3% from the field, 34% from deep, and averaging 26.2 points and 8.6 rebounds. Heading into last night’s game, he was first in the league with field goals attempted (612) and field goals missed (353). Tatum dropped 27 points in 42 minutes last night, so the Knicks may benefit from some residual exhaustion.
PF Alfred Joel Horford Reynoso is in health and safety protocols. Romeo Langford started for him against Golden State but left the game early with neck pain. With all other power forwards from their depth chart out, what line-up will Ime Udoka roll with? Maybe start Aaron Nesmith at the four? Either way, Julius Randle should fare all right tonight.
C Robert Williams III (6’8”, 7’5.5” wingspan) has averaged 9.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. Nerlens Noel has been starting at center for the Knicks but played miserably against Houston. Will Thibs give Mitchell Robinson another chance as the lead five?
Fun facts: Boston leads their all-time series, 332–214, and Patrick Ewing and Richie Guerin are tied for most points (51) scored by a Knick on Boston’s home court. One scenario for tonight: in a stunning turn of events, Wayne Selden gets extended minutes and breaks Patrick’s record. Another scenario: the last available Knicks not named Kemba win by a few buckets over a tired and understaffed Boston club.
Sigh. See ya at TD Garden. 7 PM. Stomp the shamrocks, remaining Knickerbockers!