at Boston Celtics (26-8) at New York Knicks (16-14)
Thursday, December 21, 2017
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #35 – Road Game #18
TV: TNT, NBCSB
Radio: 100.7 WZLX, ESPN NY 98.7
Madison Square GardenProbable Starters
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
Marcus Morris (knee) out
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Daniel Theis (nose) probable
Jayson Tatum (finger) probable Two Way Players
Brad StevensProbable Starters
PG: Jarrett Jack
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Michael Beasley
PF: Kristaps Porzingis
C: Enes Kanter Knicks Reserves
Frank NtilikinaTwo Way Players
Tim Hardaway, Jr (leg) out
Jeff HornacekGame Notes
These division foes meet for the second of 4 games this season. They will meet one more time in Boston on January 31 and in again in New York on February 24. The Celtics won the first game in a blow out at the TD Garden. The Celtics won the series 3-1 last season. The last time the Knicks won the season series between these two teams was in 2012-13.
The Celtics had won their last 2 games before losing to an undermanned Heat team on Wednesday. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games. They are 13-4 on the road and 5-0 vs the Atlantic Division. The Knicks are looking to get back on track after losing their last game and are 14-5 at home. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 3-2 vs the Atlantic Division. The Knicks have lost 2 straight and 5 of the last 6 games against Boston. The Celtics have won their last 3 games at Madison Square Garden.
The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games after facing the Heat at home on Wednesday night. They are 3-2 overall on the second night of back to backs and 2-0 when those games are Home/Road. The Knicks haven't played since Monday, 12/18.
The Cavs, in spite of losing on Tuesday night, have pulled to within 2 games of the Celtics and the Raptors are within 2.5 games of the Celtics and have won 4 straight games. The Celtics' defense and rebounding have been in recent games and because of that, they have lost several games that they should have won, especially the Bulls and Heat games. They have to get back to playing tough defense and putting more effort into crashing the boards if they want to stay ahead of both Cleveland and Toronto, both of whom have been playing very well.
Kristaps Porzingis is probable for this game. He has been out with a knee injury but went through a complete practice on Wednesday and said he is ready to go for this game. He still has a slight pinch in his knee, however and still needs to be cleared by the Knicks' doctors. Tim Hardaway, Jr is out with a leg injury.
For the Celtics, Gordon Hayward (ankle) and Marcus Morris (knee) remain out. Morris is targeting Christmas day for a return to the court. Daniel Theis missed Wednesday's game after having his nose re-broken to set it on Tuesday. He played against the Heat and is expected to play in this game as well. He still hasn't gotten a fitted mask, however. Jayson Tatum dislocated his pinky finger against the Heat but returned to the game with his fingers taped and is probable for this one. Key Matchups
Al Horford vs Kristaps Porzingis
This is now Kristaps Porzingis' team with the departure of Carmelo Anthony and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. He is averaging 25.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 2.1 blocks. He is also shooting 39.8% from beyond the arc. in their first meeting, the Celtics limited him to 12 points on 3-12 shooting Limiting him once again would go a long way toward getting a win once again against this team.
Aron Baynes vs Enes Kanter
Kanter was the star of the first game between these two teams with 16 points and 19 rebounds. He is averaging 13.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He is not a threat from the perimeter but is shooting 60.3% from the field. Baynes has to keep him out of the paint and especially off the boards. Keys to the Game
- Playing tough team defense is the key to winning every game. The Celtics need to concentrate on getting stops and keeping the Knicks' offense off balance. The Knicks allow 103.7 points per game while the Celtics allow 98.1 points per game. The Celtics have been letting their defense slip somewhat recently and they have to concentrate on playing tough team defense. Rebound
- The Celtics for the first time in awhile aren't at the bottom of the league in rebounding, however, as with the defense, they have let their rebounding slip lately. The Celtics are averaging 44.3 rebounds per game while the Knicks are averaging 44.0 rebounds per game. Rebounding takes effort and determination and the Celtics need to have both to out-rebound the Knicks in this one. Be Aggressive
- The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team. They have to be more aggressive in going after loose balls, in grabbing rebounds, in defending, and in going to the basket. They have to be the team that wants it more. They have to find the swagger and heart that they had in their win streak to begin the year. They simply have to out-work their opponents. Move the Ball
- The Celtics have to keep the ball moving and find the open man. When the ball sticks and one player tries to do too much, the team suffers. They have to play as a team and trust their teammates and keep the ball moving. No hero ball. Also, if the outside shots aren't falling for them, as they weren't on Wednesday, they have to try to get to the basket and either get the basket or draw the foul. Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics have to start out strong and not allow themselves to down big early. It takes too much effort to fight their way back from a big deficit. They also have t play hard until the final buzzer because the Knicks have come back from double digit deficits to win 7 times already this season. The Celtics have to play hard from the opening tip until the final buzzer. The Celtics played hard at the end against the Heat but they had big stretches during the game where they lacked effort and let the Heat play harder than them. With a little more effort throughout the game they would have won. X-Factors
On the Road
- After a one game stop at home, the Celtics are back on the road. They have played well on the road for the most part with a 13-4 record away from the TD Garden so far. The Celtics need to stay focused on playing Celtics basketball and not allow the hostile crowd and the distractions of playing on the road keep them from playing their best. Fatigue
- The Celtics have had a brutal stretch recently and are playing in yet another back to back set. They looked tired and sluggish against the Heat and a lot of their shots were short. They have played in 8 games over 12 days with 5 of those on the road. It would make sense that they are tired and so they are going to have to dig down and give a bit extra to win this game on the road against a rested Knicks team that has been playing well. Officiating
- Two games in a row the Celtics have had a key player foul out on questionable calls. Against the Pacers, the officiating was completely one sided with the Pacers shooting 24 more free throws than the Celtics and Jaylen Brown was in foul trouble the entire game before fouling out. Against the Heat, the officiating wasn't one sided, but Al Horford fouled out on at least 3 very bad calls. What will we see from the officials in this game?