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Game Thread: Celtics visit Knicks in a battle of 2 unbeaten teams

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The Celtics visit Carmelo Anthony and the NY Knicks in a face down of unbeaten division rivals.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (3-0) at New York Knicks (3-0)
Friday, October 16, 2015
7:30 PM ET
TV:  NBA-TV, CSNNE, MSG, NBA-TV Canada
Madison Square Garden

The Celtics look to remain undefeated as they take on the New York Knicks, who also happen to be undefeated in the preseason.  The Knicks have beaten the Sixers, Wizards and BAU (as part of the Global Games).  The Knicks haven't played since Monday while the Celtics had just one day off after defeating the Nets on Wednesday. 

Once again, the starting lineups are a guess.  The Knicks have started Vujacic, Calderon, Anthony and Lopez in all 3 games.  Porzingas started the first two games but is out with a quad injury.  Arron Afflalo is expected to make his preseason debut in this game and is reportedly their choice for starting shooting guard. 

The Celtics rested David Lee and Avery Bradley on Wednesday and Marcus Smart was out with a strep infection. Smart is expected to miss this game and so I expect Isaiah to get the start once again.  Stevens could stick with the Thomas/Turner back court, or Avery could return to the starting lineup.    Rozier is still expected to be out also.  It's really tough to predict the lineups in preseason. 

In a side story,  David Lee returns to Madison Square Garden where he spent the first 5 years of his career before moving to Golden State.   He should get a very warm welcome from the crowd before they start to boo him. 



Possible Starters
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: David Lee
C: Amir Johnson

Probable Reserves
Coty Clarke
Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Perry Jones III
Jordan Mickey
Malcolm Miller
Kelly Olynyk
Levi Randolph
Jared Sullinger
Corey Watson
James Young

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Injuries

Terry Rozier (knee) questionable
Marcus Smart (strep) day to day

Players to Watch

Celtics Fans are discussing the curious case of Jared Sullinger.  He posted updates all summer of how he was working out and getting into shape.  He didn't look all that much slimmer when he came to camp and now he is the 5th big off the bench for the most part.  It will be interesting to to see how much playing time he gets and what he does with it.  He still has star potential but a lot of questions as well.
James Young and Perry Jones seem to be the players fighting for that final spot, barring a trade before the season begins.  They should both get opportunities and what they do with them could decide who stays and who goes.



Possible Starters
PG:  Jose Calderon
SG:  Arron Afflalo
SF:  Carmelo Anthony
PF:  Lance Thomas
C:   Robin Lopez

Possible Reserves
Lou Amundson
Darion Atkins
Sasha Vujacic
Cleanthony Early
Langston Galloway
Jerian Grant
Kyle O'Quinn
Wesley Saunders
Kevin Seraphin
DaJuan Summers
Travis Trice
Derrick Williams

Head Coach
Derek Fisher

Injuries
Kristaps Porzingis (quad)  out
Arron Afflalo  (hamstring)  probable
Kevin Seraphin (knee)  probable

Players to Watch

Of course, the star of the Knicks is Carmelo Anthony and he has been playing very well so far in the preseason with 18.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists.  I expect to see Jae Crowder on Melo to try to slow him down. 
Kyle O'Quinn has had big games against the Celtics when he was with the Magic and he has been playing well for the Knicks so far this preseason with 11.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. 
The Celtics go from one Lopez to another.  Robin Lopez mans the middle for the Knicks and is averaging 7.7 pints, 4.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game.  The Celtics did well against Brook and should do well against Robin as well. 

Keys to the Game
Team Defense - The Celtics have been playing great defense as a team and they need to continue to do so against the Knicks.  Defense wins games and the Celtics defense will be what sets them apart this season.

Move the Ball - The Celtics ball movement has been so good that players on Olimpia Milano compared them to the Spurs.  They need to continue to move the ball and find the open man to get easy shots. 

Run, Run, Run!!! - The Celtics are a very deep team and they need to use that depth to keep running and wear out their opponents. 

Be Aggressive -  The Celtics have been the more aggressive team in their games so far and they need to keep that up.  They need to come out aggressively and attack from the beginning and remain aggressive throughout.  No let up. 

X-Factors
Over Confidence - The Celtics can't let themselves get overconfident after winning 3 in a row.  They have to play like the underdog and not like they expect to win. 

On the Road - The Celtics have won all 3 of their games on the road while the Knicks have won 2 of their 3 at home.  Can the Celtics continue to win on the road or will the hostile environment affect their focus. 

Preseason
-  The preseason is all about experimenting with combinations and lineups to see which ones work well together.  There is also giving playing time to end of the bench players and rookies to make decisions on which ones will make it into the rotation and which ones will remain with the team after camp.  Wins aren't always high on the priority list and so that may affect who wins as well.