By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Celtics | Madison Square Garden
When: Sunday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Not too much has changed for the Knicks in the few days since they beat the Celtics up in Boston last Tuesday. J.R. Smith is still scoring 30 points off the bench, Kenyon Marting continues to fill in expertly for Tyson Chandler, and Carmelo Anthony is still Carmelo Anthony. After home wins against Memphis and Charlotte to bring their win streak to seven, the Knicks appear to be peaking at just the right time. After tonight, they'll hit the road to play Miami and then Atlanta.
Boston: Despite all the injuries, Boston continues to piece things together. With Kevin Garnett now sidelined indefinitely, they've managed to win both of their games since Tuesday's loss to the Knicks to stay in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Atlanta (who they just beat) for the 5 seed. They're 5th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, but still struggle to score and are 25th on offense.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks continued a recent trend of starting fast and hanging on for the win, beating Charlotte 111-102 at the Garden on Friday.
Boston: Jeff Green (27 pts), Jason Terry (24) and Paul Pierce (20) powered the Celtics past Atlanta, 118-107, on Friday.
The Numbers Game
On Friday, J.R. Smith became the first Knick to score 30 or more points off the bench in three straight games. He started the streak on Tuesday in Boston.
Matchup to Watch
J.R. Smith vs. Avery Bradley
At some point, we'll see Boston's most dynamic perimeter defender on the Knicks' most dialed-in scorer right now. Smith continues his assault on the basket, getting to the free throw line almost nine times a game over his last nine games and shooting 49 percent from the floor. Bradley puts outstanding pressure on the ball and will be physical with Smith in hopes of limiting him to contested jumpers. Hearing his teammates and coaches talk about him, though, it sounds like Smith is determined to keep attacking the paint.
What to Look For
We'll all be watching to see if the Knicks can jump out to an early lead like they have the past couple of games. Iman Shumpert has been instrumental, playing with energy that his teammates feed off of. With K.G. out, the Knicks should have an advantage in the paint, where they scored 50 points the last time these teams met. For the Celtics, Jeff Green has stepped up as a scorer but will be tested tonight against Melo.