By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Celtics | TD Bank Garden
When: Wednesday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (25-40): After Monday's win over Philadelphia -- New York's fourth straight victory -- the Knicks are 3.5 games behind Atlanta for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot with 17 games left to play. They have moved past Cleveland but still have Detroit standing between them and the eighth seed. Beating the 15-win Sixers was go be expected, but the fashion in which the Knicks did it -- overcoming an early double-digit deficit to win by 13, despite playing without Tyson Chandler -- was certainly an encouraging sign as momentum continues to build.
Boston (22-42): The Celtics have beaten the Knicks twice in three games this season, including a 41-point shellacking at the Garden in early December. At that point, Boston was off to a surprising start to the season and looking like a potential playoff team. A nine-game losing streak to start January turned the Celtics' fortunes, however, and despite getting Rajon Rondo back from knee surgery, Brad Stevens' team is heading toward the lottery.
UPDATE: Rondo will not play tonight. Rookie Phil Pressey will start in his place.
Brad Stevens on the starting lineup: "Phil Pressey will start in Rondo's place and the rest of the lineup will remain the same."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2014
The Numbers Game
Four Knicks scored 20 or more points against Philly -- Amar'e Stoudemire and Tim Hardaway Jr. (23 apiece), Carmelo Anthony (22) and J.R. Smith (20) -- the first time New York has done that since April 17, 2012, against Boston.
Matchup to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Brandon Bass
Without Chandler or Stoudemire available tonight (more on that in a moment), Melo will be asked to play more power forward again. The Celtics have had some success using Bass to defend Anthony in the past and figure to stick the 6'8", 240-pound bruiser on him again tonight. Historically, Boston's gameplan has been to play physical defense and force the Knicks to beat them with 1-on-1 isolation. With a depleted front line, Melo will be counted on to help defend against Boston's length, and that starts with Bass and Jeff Green.
What to Look For
Cole Aldrich will start in place of Chandler, who will miss his second consecutive game as he attends to a personal matter. Stoudemire (recovery) will also not play, so Mike Woodson will likely start Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert along with Smith, Anthony and Aldrich. The Knicks' depth will be tested, as Pablo Prigioni will assume the responsibility of leading the second unit. Between Prifioni and Felton, containing Rondo, who is shooting 40 percent from the floor but still an elite assist man, will be the top priority...The Celtics are without Gerald Wallace and Vitor Faverani for the season and ace defensive guard Avery Bradley (ankle) in out indefinitely.