In what seems like an aeon, Celtics Basketball finally returns tonight with an intriguing matchup: Knicks at Celtics, the redux.
Straight after the last tough loss at home to the Knickerbockers on the 21st of November, heavy criticism was levelled at the team as fans rained down boos on their beloved team from the upper deck of TD Garden. Trey Burke spearheaded the Knicks that night, as New York came to play in a more physical and committed fashion across all four quarters. They say NBA players don’t need extra motivation, but the team really want to play better this time against the Knicks, as outlined here.
Kyrie says he can’t wait for tomorrow’s game against the Knicks, especially after losing to them two weeks ago at home: “It’s definitely a game that I remember, so as a competitor I can’t wait to play.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 5, 2018
Boston’s recent good form has been noticeable with a string of nice wins and Celtics fans will see a much different team tonight. Rotation-wise Brad Stevens has found the right mix of ingredients, and the team now sit at a credible but not amazing 13-10, on the season.
Enes Kanter, Noah Vonleh showed a great deal of hustle on the boards in the last game in Boston, both nabbing 10 each and Boston will have to show more fight and willingness to box out the painted area. With Marcus Morris Sr. now in the starting five, the Celtics have a hard nosed PF alongside both Al Horford and Jayson Tatum, all three of whom lead the team in rebounds.
The Celtics will be all too aware that Tim Hardaway Jr. can score in a hurry, as Timmy currently averages 22.1 ppg, good enough to be in the Top 20 in the league. Fellow SB Nation blog Poasting & Toasting have a great the Film Study by Zach Diluzio about the way the Knicks have played to Timmy’s strengths early in the season.
David Fizdale’s Knicks come into the game after a loss to Washington on Monday. In a growing list of regular season “Celtics destroyers”, Trey Burke will unfortunately not be available as he was sidelined for the Wizards contest with a knee injury and remains out until the 8th of December.
The Celtics will finally welcome back Jaylen Brown from the lower back injury suffered in a hard fall at Dallas. Jaylen Brown has watched from the sidelines as the man they call Cobra, Marcus Smart, has started in his stead. The team in the Kelly Green have since logged a winning 3-0 record including two good road wins against the Timberwolves and Pelicans.
With much conjecture surrounding the Celtics starting five in recent weeks, I expect Coach Brad Stevens to stick with the Marci alongside Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum for the foreseeable future. That starting five have been cohesive and locked in to start games and the winning record says it all. The Celtics come into the game completely healthy having a 4 full days off from game action to get into the festive mood.
In what seems like an unpopular move amongst the fan base and one which will disappoint quite a few people, the TimeLord, Robert Williams III has been sent to Maine.
PG - Kyrie Irving – Emmanuel Mudiay
SG - Marcus Smart – Tim Hardaway Jr.
SF - Jayson Tatum – Mario Hezonja
PF - Marcus Morris Sr – Noah Vonleh
C - Al Horford – Enes Kanter
Boston – Jabari Bird (personal)
Charlotte- Kristaps Porzingis (knee); Trey Burke (Knee); Lance Thomas (knee)
How to Watch
Time – 8:00 PM EST
TV – TNT, NBC Sports Boston