Knicks vs. Celtics – Madison Square Garden
When: Monday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Once again, the Knicks flirted with danger on Saturday night by allowing the Magic to establish a big lead. New York managed to escape Orlando with a win behind Carmelo Anthony’s 40 points. With the victory, the Knicks improved to 23-10 on the season and tied with the Miami Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. New York has now won two straight games and will return to MSG for a Monday night contest before having two days off until the next game against Indiana on Thursday night. On the injury front, Iman Shumpert is waiting for clearance to participate in contact drills and Rasheed Wallace is day-to-day with a sore foot.
Boston: The Big Three no longer exists in Beantown as Ray Allen took his talents to South Beach and joined one of the Celtics’ top rivals. Allen is now a member of the Heat while Boston acquired sixth man specialist Jason Terry from Dallas and Courtney Lee to fill the void at the shooting guard position. The Celtics drafted Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo to bolster their frontline. Avery Bradley is back for the Celtics, which gives them a defensive-minded backcourt while allowing Lee and Terry to work off the pine, a more natural spot for the two guards. As a consistent contender in the Eastern Conference, Boston finds itself in a new position at No. 8 in the latest standings and one game below the .500 mark. After squaring off against the Knicks for the first time this season, the Celtics return to Boston for a long five-game homestand.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks scored a combined 65 points in the second and fourth quarters to roll past the Magic 114-106 on Saturday.
Boston: The Celtics won their second straight game by defeating the Hawks in Atlanta 89-81 on Saturday night.
The Numbers Game
New York ranks No. 2 in the league in offensive efficiency at 112 points scored per 100 possessions.
Match-up to Watch
Jason Kidd vs. Rajon Rondo
The 39-year old Knicks point guard deserves a ton of credit for increasing his production while Raymond Felton has been sidelined with a fractured pinky finger. Jason Kidd is averaging 11.8 points, 5.6 assists, and five rebounds since Felton left the lineup five games ago. Additionally, Kidd is hitting 42.9 percent from the floor and beyond the arc at the point guard position. His chemistry with Anthony has been quite apparent as the two players work the two-game when the All-Star forward receives the double team. Kidd will need a strong defensive effort on Monday night against one of the premier point guards in the league. Rajon Rondo is the straw that stirs the Celtics drink. He is an exceptional passer in both the half court and fastbreak game – averaging an NBA best 11.3 assists per game. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks defend Rondo, either pressuring him on ball to cut off passing lanes or back off him and force him to shoot deep jumpers. Regardless of the decision, the entire New York backcourt will play a role in limiting Rondo’s impact on Monday night.
What to Look For
It’s a must-see event whenever the Knicks and Celtics collide due to the long tradition and rivalry within the division. This specific matchup is a bit different considering New York owns a seven-game lead over Boston at the moment. Will the Knicks set the tone from the opening tip? That’s a major question after the team has allowed opponents to establish big leads over the last couple of weeks. The bottom line is New York has Anthony and an efficient and explosive offense. If the Knicks can find success on the offensive side of the floor, they should improve to 14-3 at MSG while the Celtics enter the contest just 6-11 on the road.