Wednesday, March 12, 2014

W2W4: New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics; March 10th, 2014

By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

Pre-Game News and Notes

The Knicks and Celtics will be facing off for the fourth and final time this season in Boston. The Knicks will look to even the season series up at two, as the Celtics won the first two meetings pretty handedly and the Knicks won in blowout fashion in the most recent meeting. This is an important game for the Knicks as they continue their playoff push, as they cannot afford to lose to teams below them in the standings to move up. The Knicks will look to continue their four game winning streak and here are some news and notes for them to do so.

-Player News and Notes

The Knicks will be extremely short-handed in the front court tonight. Tyson Chandler will not be with the team for the second consecutive game as he deals with a personal problem. The Knicks will also be without his frontcourt mate in the starting lineup in Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire will miss tonight’s game for precautionary reasons; he has played 56 minutes in his last two games after being on a strict minutes limit throughout the season.  One of Jeremy Tyler or Cole Aldrich will most likely find themselves in the starting lineup and both getting increased minutes tonight. Earl Clark will more likely find his way into the rotation tonight as the backup big man off the bench.

For the Celtics, Rajon Rondo will not be suiting up. Rondo played 41 minutes last night against the Indiana Pacers and will be held out. Rondo is still not playing back-to-backs for the Celtics, who have very little to play for so pushing Rondo makes little sense. The Knicks catch a break as the inexperienced Phil Pressey will take over the starting point guard duties.

-Match-Up of the Game: Carmelo Anthony vs. Jeff Green

With Rondo out, Green is the best player the Celtics have and will be the vocal point of their offense. Green has had some success in guarding Anthony this season as well. Anthony struggled in the first two meetings, both Knicks losses and did well in the third meeting, a Knicks win. The Knicks fortunes tonight will hinge on the performance of Anthony and if he can take advantage of his match up with Green tonight. Anthony has struggled a little offensively recently dealing with an illness and will look to get back on track tonight.

-Who Steps Up Tonight?

With Stoudemire and Chandler out the Knicks are missing key pieces to their recent turnaround; an extremely efficient scorer who has been a presence rebounding, and the heart and soul to their defense. Who picks up the slack tonight for the Knicks will be the most intriguing thing to watch tonight. Tyler has played well in limited minutes, but is foul prone at times. Aldrich hasn’t been a constant contributor at any point in his career, but has shown the ability to rebound and play some solid defense when given a chance. Clark, who was cut from the Cavaliers, is probably the x-factor tonight in the front court. If he can give the Knicks anything tonight it will go a long way, but it is going to be a group effort to replace the production of Stoudemire and Chandler.

-No Let Down

The Celtics are coming off a hard-fought game against the Pacers last night in Indiana. The Knicks, on the other hand, are coming off a game that took them three quarters to get going, but ended up winning comfortably. Tonight they have to come out with the same intensity they did the fourth quarter Monday against the 76ers and take the Celtics out early. The Knicks have a tendency to let teams stick around far too long and it has hurt them throughout the season. Tonight, especially without 2/3 their starting front court, they need to come out early and take control. Expect a lot of Carmelo Anthony early and often as the Knicks will lean on their leading man with key pieces missing the game. If the Knicks can get on the Celtics early they can put this game away early as the Celtics will be a little fatigued and without their best player, even post ACL-injury, in Rondo. 

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