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The Celtics and Knicks clash in a battle of division rivals

Celtics host division rival Knicks as they look to get back on the winning track.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks (3-4) at Boston Celtics (3-4)
Friday, November 11, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #8, Home Game #4
TV: CSN-NE, MSG, NBA-LP 758(DTV), 755(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN NY 98.7
TD Garden

Referees: Tony Brothers, Eric Dalen, Dedric Taylor

The Celtics host the New York Knicks for the first of 4 meetings this season. They met twice in the preseason with the Celtics winning at Madison Square Garden and the Knicks winning at TD Garden. They will meet the next time on Christmas Day. The Celtics won the series 3-1 last season.

Both teams played on Wednesday with the Celtics losing to the Wizards 118-93 and the Knicks doing the Celtics a favor by beating the Nets 110-96. Both teams are playing on the front end of back to back games. The Celtics will travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers while the Knicks will travel north to face the Raptors in Toronto.

The Celtics started out strong with a 3-1 start, even without Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk. But, they have lost their last 3 games after losing both Jae Crowder and Al Horford to injuries. The Knicks haven't had the injury problems that the Celtics have, but they have struggled with trying to integrate 11 new players this season. Both teams are one game under .500 and both view this game as a must win.

Al Horford was cleared to practice on Thursday, but they did just a light walk through and he is doubtful for this game. Jae Crowder is not expected back until next week. Kelly Olynyk returned to the lineup against the Wizards and is still working on getting his timing and conditioning back. The Knicks haven't listed any injuries.

The Celtics have 2 embarrassing losses in their last two games and they have had dismal first quarters in both of games. Brad Stevens may consider shaking up the lineups and there have been conjectures that he may start Marcus Smart. But, it will only be a couple more games until they get both Crowder and Horford back and that should solve a multitude of problems.

Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Tyler Zeller

Celtics Reserves
Marcus Smart
Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Kelly Olynyk

Al Horford (concussion) doubtful
Jae Crowder (ankle) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Starters

PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Kristaps Porzingis
C: Joakim Noah

Knicks Reserves

Maurice Ndour
Brandon Jennings
Justin Holiday
Kyle O'Quinn
Willy Hernangomez
Sasha Vujacic
Ron Baker
Marshall Plumlee
Lance Thomas
Mindaugas Kuzminskas


Head Coach

Jeff Hornacek

Key Matchups
Jaylen Brown vs Carmelo Anthony
With Crowder out, the job of defending Carmelo Anthony will go to Jaylen Brown. He already faced Melo in the preseason and so had an idea of what he has to do to limit him. Melo leads the Knicks with 22.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. Brown's defense will definitely be tested in this one.

Amir Johnson vs Kristaps Porzingis
The Knicks 7'3" center is averaging 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. His length and range make him very tough to handle and the Celtics will have their hands full, especially keeping him off the boards.

Honorable Mention

Isaiah Thomas vs Derrick Rose
Rose missed both games in the preseason and so this is Isaiah's first game playing against him. Rose is averaging 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Rose isn't known as a lock down defender and so hopefully Isaiah can have a big game.

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. Both of these teams have struggled on the defensive end so far this season. The Knicks are 28th in defensive efficiency but the Celtics are 30th. The Knicks are allowing 109.8 points per game while the Celtics allow 111.8. The Celtics must get back to playing tough team defense.

Rebound - Much of rebounding is effort and desire as evidenced by the fact that 6'2" Avery Bradley is the Celtics leading rebounder. When the Celtics put out the extra effort to win the battle of the boards, they seem to play better overall. They have to grab rebounds to keep the Knicks from getting out on the break and to keep them from getting second chance points. The Celtics have been out-rebounded by double figures in their recent losses and they have to make the extra effort to box out and crash the boards.

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. Last season this group out worked almost every opponent they faced but they haven't been able to find that same swagger this season.

Start Strong
- The Celtics have been very sluggish in the first quarter of the last two games falling behind by double digits early and not being able to catch up. The Celtics have to come out strong and not allow themselves to get behind so that they have to try to play catch up the rest of the game.

Next Man Up - The Celtics have been struggling with two of their starters out and as yet, no one has stepped up to fill the void left by their absence. For the Celtics to win, someone has to step up on both ends of the court.

Celtic Pride - The Celtics have been embarrassed two straight games. They have come out flat and they have struggled on the defensive end, allowing 123 points in their last 3 games. Their coach has called them soft, which should get any team motivated to do better. They have to reach down and find the pride to play their very hardest to pull out a win.

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