Knicks @ Celtics 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
The Knicks can take quite a bit of positive aspects from the narrow defeat to the Bulls on Thursday night. Resiliency will be needed, considering New York is featured on national television for the second straight evening in an intense rivalry game, not to mention the sandwich contest of the three-games-in-three-nights set. Despite logging heavy minutes against Chicago, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony should be ready to roll tonight while dealing with some injuries that have slowed them down over the past couple of weeks. Baron Davis continues to rehab and condition in preparation for his return and rookie Josh Harrellson is sidelined following surgery to his fractured wrist.
After four straight losses to start January, the Celtics are back above the .500 mark with seven wins in their last nine games. At 11-10 and second in the Atlantic Division, Boston is rounding back into form despite the day-to-day injury status of point guard Rajon Rondo. The Celtics will enjoy the first two weeks of February as they are in the midst of a six-game homestand before a lengthy road trip to conclude the month.
Last Time Out
In a back-and-forth Eastern Conference battle, the Knicks fell short in a 105-102 thriller against the Bulls at Madison Square Garden.
The Celtics demolished the Raptors 100-64 on Tuesday night, limiting the road team to just 34 percent from the floor.
The Numbers Game
In the first meeting between the two teams on Christmas Day, Anthony and Stoudemire combined for 58 points and 14 rebounds.
Match-up to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Paul Pierce
The Boston crowd will witness two of the best scoring small forwards in the league going head-to-head tonight. Pierce is deadly when reaching the free throw line area for perimeter jumpers. Anthony has registered a combined 51 points in his last two outings since taking a couple of games off to rest his ailing ankle. If the game is close down the stretch, these two players will have the ball in their hands to take a momentum altering shot. Defensively, Anthony will need to limit Pierce’s impact on the game as the Celtics do not have a true secondary scorer that can produce in isolation sets.
What to Look For
The two teams collided on opening day and provided an instant classic at Madison Square Garden with the Knicks prevailing from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. The matchup on Friday night in Boston will look completely different as Pierce will get his first crack at New York after missing the first contest due to a bruised right heel. While the Celtics will have their leading scorer for the rematch, Rondo will most likely be a gametime decision. Rondo had a stellar game against New York on December 25 with 31 points, 13 assists, five rebounds, and five steals.
The Knicks offense seems to be back on track and Stoudemire is regaining his rhythm from the perimeter. On Friday night, New York will need his production from that side of the floor, considering Boston ranks No. 2 in the league in points allowed per game. If New York receives the same type of output from its big guns and cuts down on the turnovers, the squad has a great shot at snatching an important road win in Boston.