clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Game Preview: Knicks vs. Celtics- 01/06/22

The division rival visits after losing last night in Boston.

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics (18-20) will visit the New York Knicks (18-20) on Thursday after suffering a grueling loss to the San Antonio Spurs last night, 99-97.

When they met on December 18, the Celtics won 114-107 despite a 41-point third quarter by New York. A 62-47 halftime deficit was insurmountable for the Knicks, and our bedraggled heroes fielded an eight-man roster, even playing Wayne Selden for nine minutes. Evan Fournier led the Knicks with 32 points on 13-for-24 shooting from the field. Bench guard Josh Richardson dropped 27 for the C’s.

The season series is tied 1-1. The Knicks and Celtics are tied for tenth place in the Eastern Conference. Will momentum from Tuesday’s uplifting win over the Indiana Pacers carry New York to another victory? Or will they crash back to earth in a jumble of feathers and shame?

I save up all my choicest obscenities for Boston games. Tip-off’s at 7:30, Wahlburgers.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Marcus Smart has averaged 11.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds this season. The 6’3”, 220 lbs point guard ranks fourth in the league with 1.9 steals per game and slaps 3.3 deflections per game. Smart shoots only 29% from deep (on 4.6 attempts), but I swear he’s lethal from behind the arc in a close game with two minutes left.

For New York, expect Zen master Alec Burks to start at the one. Kemba Walker (knee) has practiced but is unlikely to make tonight’s line-up.

Jaylen Brown is averaging 24.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. On Sunday, he took over a game the Celtics were losing to the Magic, single-handedly forced overtime, and secured the win with 50 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. In 35 minutes last night, he netted 30 points on 12-of-25 from the field, 4-of-8 from three. Yeah, he’s good.

Who else is good? Evan Fournier when he plays Boston. The dribbling croissant has averaged 16.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 20 games against them. Comparatively, his slash-line for the season is 12.8/2.6/1.8. Can we hire a hypnotist to convince Evan that every team is the Celtics?

This season, two-time All-Star Jayson Tatum has averaged 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists, all upticks from his career numbers. The 6’8”, 210 lbs small forward continues to lead the league in field goal attempts and field goals missed. He’s shooting only 33% from long-range but takes an average of 8.5 attempts per game. If at first you don’t succeed….

Tonight Tatum will clash with RJ Barrett, who played a glorious 32-point, 8-rebound game on Tuesday. Canada’s favorite son delivers against the Celtics, too, with an above average slash-line of 20.9/6.6/2.4 against them. I can’t wait to see a confident RJ square off with this fellow Duke alum.

Al Horford was your grandpa’s favorite player growing up. Nahhh, the 35-year old Dominican only seems like he’s been in the league for…oh, he really has been around for 14 years. This season, Ol’ Al is averaging 11.8 points, and 7.9 rebounds and aging better than I am.

The 6-9”, 240 lbs Horford will have to contend with Julius Randle, who came roaring out of COVID protocols. He torched the Indiana Pacers for 30 points and 16 rebounds. Plan on Ju to bring that fire again tonight.

Celtics center Robert Williams III has averaged 10 points, 8.9 boards, and 1.9 blocks this year. The 6’8”, 237 lbs Time Lord has been dealing with a toe issue but looked fine last night against the Spurs. When he rests, you’ll see Enes Freedom, formerly known as “That Bum Who Once Played for New York.”

PREDICTION

The Celtics are talented, but their energy and attitude waver from game to game. (Sound familiar?) They lost a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire game last night and some residual exhaustion should benefit the Knicks. Look for RJ and Julius to be terrible hosts tonight, harassing their guests and ending the evening with a last-minute triumph.

And then they’ll play these guys again on Saturday.

The Mecca. Thursday. 7:30 PM. Get ’em, Knicks!