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Game Preview: Knicks at Boston, December 8, 2023

Tonight’s clash demands a more well-rounded performance from the Knicks if they hope to knock off the perfect-at-home Celtics.

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

A friend who rarely watches the Knicks (12-8) tuned into Tuesday’s IST quarterfinal game against the Milwaukee Bucks. During the game, he kept texting to ask what happened to New York’s allegedly great defense. He marveled about the poor closeouts, the stand-around ball-watching, and especially the final score, 146-122.

The Knicks had surrendered 75 points in the first half alone. In the second half, they allowed another 71 points and were out-rebounded 27-18. The Knicks made seven three-pointers in the game, while the Bucks scored 69 points with the longball. Even the ever-genial Mike Breen chided Jalen Brunson for not giving more effort when Giannis dunked on a fast-break.

A more competent all-around effort will be required to win in Boston tonight. The Celtics (15-5) have won all nine home games this season. They have the league’s best Net Rating, the second-ranked defense, and the eighth-best offense. Boston has already defeated New York twice this season. From the small favors department: Kristaps Porzingis is listed as a gametime decision.

So far this season against the Knicks, Jayson Tatum had averaged 34.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists, while Jaylen Brown has averaged 16.5 points, 5.5 boards, and 5.5 dimes. Jrue Holiday (PG), Derrick White (SG), and Al Horford (C) are expected to round out the starting lineup tonight.

For the Knicks this season, point guard Jalen Brunson has averaged 27.2 points, 6.8 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in his last 10 games, while shooting 47% 3P, despite converting only three of his last 11 long-range attempts. Power forward Julius Randle has scored 21.5 points, 10 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per contest.

Shooting guard Quentin Grimes has averaged 4.5 points, one assist, and one rebound in his last 10 games, while making 30% of his shots. After Tuesday’s game, he admitted frustration about his role in the offense (the second Knick in two weeks to express this particular concern, the other being Josh Hart). In an all-hands-on-deck game like tonight, New York will need Grimes to fight through his frustrations and onto the scoresheet.

R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson will complete the starting squad.


ESPN gives New York a 31% chance to win.

Indeed, tonight’s clash demands a more well-rounded performance from the Knicks if they hope to knock off the perfect-at-home Celtics. New York lost their first matchup of the season by four points and their second by 16. Tonight’s tilt will be a good test of their character: having lost their NBA Cup game this week and carrying a 2-8 record against playoff-caliber teams, will the underdog Knicks keep fighting or go through the motions in a hurry to return home?

Prediction: They fight. Knicks win by three.

Game Details:

Who: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics

When: 7:30 pm EST, Friday, Dec. 8

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

Watch: MSG Network, NBA TV

Follow: @ptknicksblog