The Celtics and Knicks meet for the second time in this young season. They played on October 26th in Madison Square Garden and this time they square off in the TD Garden. They will meet again in New York on December 1 and again in Boston on March 18. When they met last week in New York, the Celtics came away with a 118-95 win.
This will be Marcus Morris, Sr’s first game back at TD Garden since he left in free agency this offseason, signing a 1 year $15 milliion contract with the Knicks. He started 72 games for the Celtics over the past 2 seasons and was one of the Celtics’ most consistent players last season. Morris has said that he felt slighted that the Celtics didn’t at least reach out to him after last season and so there may be a bit of a chip on his shoulder to show them that they made a mistake.
When these two teams last met on Saturday, the Knicks were winless, having lost to the Spurs and Nets before that game. Then after losing to the Celtics on Saturday, they beat the Chicago Bulls on Monday and then lost to Orlando on Wednesday. The Celtics have won all three of their games after an opening night loss to the 76ers.
Daniel Theis is listed in the game notes as the starter at center for this game. He missed the game against the Knicks on Saturday with a sprained ankle and Robert Williams got the start. He returned to start on Wednesday against the Bucks. He is listed as probable for this game, assuming that he didn’t have any more swelling from the ankle.
Enes Kanter injured his knee on opening night and has been out since and is expected to miss this game also. Jaylen Brown missed Wednesday’s game with an illness and Brad Stevens has said he is outl for this game as well. Robert Williams is also listed as out with a hip injury. The Celtics have recalled Tacko Fall from the Red Claws and he will be active for this game.
Dennis Smith, Jr is not with the team due to a death in the family. Elfrid Payton is out with a hamstring injury. Kadeem Allen, who is a two way player, is out with a knee injury. Reggie Bullock did some light shooting on Thursday as he recovers from neck surgery but will be out for this game. Frank Ntilikina is listed as probable with a sore neck.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
Enes Kanter (knee) out
Jaylen Brown (illness) out
Daniel Theis (ankle) probable
Robert Williams III (hip) out
Two Way Players
Probable Knicks Starters
PG: RJ Barrett
SG: Wayne Ellington
SF: Marcus Morris, Sr
PF: Julius Randle
C: Mitchell Robinson
Kevin Knox II
Frank Ntilikina (neck) probable
Kadeem Allen (knee) game time decision
Reggie Bullock (back) out
Dennis Smith, Jr (personal) out
Elfrid Payton (hamstring) out
Two Way Players
Jayson Tatum vs Julius Randle
is averaging 15.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 5 assists. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists on Saturday vs the Celtics. Tatum needs to especially keep him off the boards. He isn’t a threat to score from the outside as he is shooting just 8.3% from beyond the arc.
Kemba Walker vs RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett has been a bright spot for the Knicks so far this season. He is averaging 18.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3 assists this season. In the first game between these two teams, he finished with 26 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He is shooting 42% from beyond the arc, and so the Celtics need to stick with him on the perimeter as well. We will probably see Marcus Smart covering him should he get hot again in this game.
Gordon Hayward vs Julius Randle
These two players know each other well after playing together in Boston last season. Morris is averaging 13.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He is shooting 38.1% from beyond the arc. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in the first game between these two teams. Morris will probably be out to make a statement vs his old team and so the Celtics need to stick with him.
Keys to the Game
Defense - 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 have a defensive rating of 107.7 (17th) while the Celtics have a defensive rating of 100.7 (9th). The Celtics must concentrate on playing tough team defense to keep the Knicks from getting a win in this one. They have shown they are capable of playing very good defense and they need to commit to it every game. The Celtics are 1st in the league, scoring 25 points off turnovers. The Knicks are 10th, scoring 16.6 points off turnovers.
Rebound - The Celtics are averaging 47 rebounds per game while the Knicks are averaging 48 rebounds per game. The Celtics are getting it done with a team rebounding effort and not depending on one or two players to be the rebounders. The Knicks are 4th with 16.6 second chance points and so the Celtics must crash the boards to keep the Knicks from getting easy points off of rebounds.
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. We saw how good they can be in the second half against the Bucks when they played really aggressively. They need to play that way throughout this game.
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 as that is when they play the best.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to start out strong and not allow themselves to get down big early. It takes too much effort to fight their way back from a big deficit. They have had strong second halves but have struggled somewhat in the first halves of games. They have to play hard from the opening tip until the final buzzer.
Home Game - The Celtics are at home and they will have their fans behind them. The fans were a factor in helping the Celtics come back from a 19 point deficit against the Bucks. The Celtics need to make teams fear coming into their home.
Officiating - We have already seen officiating affect the outcome of games. Each officiating crew calls the game differently. The Celtics need to adjust to how the refs are calling the game. The Celtics struggle when refs call every little ticky tack foul. Hopefully they call it evenly and let both teams play.
Revenge Game - The Celtics embarrassed the Knicks with a blow out on their home court on Saturday. They are going to want to avenge that loss and so will come out strong and play hard to try to get a win in this game. The Celtics can’t let up because they think this will be an easy game. They need to play just as hard as they would against the top teams in the league. Don’t underestimate a team, especially one that is out to avenge an embarrassing loss. This is the type of game that last season’s team would lose. Hopefully this team will play with more urgency.