By Kenneth Teape – Knickswag Contributor
Pre-Game News and Notes
Knicks vs. Celtics
The Knicks and Celtics will be facing off for the third time this season and the first time in a five-day stretch tonight in Boston. The Knicks will be focused on accomplishing two things tonight in Boston; winning their fifth straight game and putting more distance between themselves and their rivals in the Atlantic Division. Here are some things to watch for tonight.
The Knicks have been rolling since Carmelo Anthony returned from getting his knee drained, winning in Utah without him then winning three more with him in the lineup. Will they be getting another All-Star back into the rotation tonight?
Tyson Chandler will be a game-time decision tonight for the Knicks, who have played surprisingly well without their starting center and All-Star, going 4-2 in his absence. Chandler is over the knee injury he suffered in Denver against the Nuggets but is now dealing with a neck injury. Chandler said that there is some pain in the neck still and does not want to return too fast from it and become re-injured.
In his absence Kenyon Martin has played great basketball. The 35-year old veteran has played as well as the Knicks could have hoped for a person who had not played in an NBA game before Martin signed his first 10-day contract in late February. During the four game winning streak Martin is averaging 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 75 percent from the court.
A big thing that will play into Chandler suiting up tonight is the health of the Celtics center Kevin Garnett. Garnett is not supposed to play tonight so it would not be surprising to see the Knicks rest Chandler tonight, especially because they will need him tomorrow night in going up against the very physical Memphis Grizzlies.
**** Knicks announced that Chandler would not suit up tonight. He said he is not yet ready and will not play.
-Melo vs. Pierce
The biggest matchup to keep an eye on tonight is Anthony vs. Paul Pierce. These two will be matched up against each other all night and put on great battles every time they go against each other.
In his last 13 games against the Knicks, Pierce is averaging 27.8 points per game on 52.9 percent shooting with what seems like clutch baskets in every game. He is shooting an absurd 49 percent from the three-point line over that span as well.
Not to be outdone, Anthony is averaging 28.1 points per game in his last eight games against Boston. The numbers to pay attention to though at 3 and 5; the Knicks win loss record in those last eight games that Anthony played in against Boston.
-Potential Playoff Preview?
Currently the Knicks sit in third place in the Eastern Conference and if the playoffs began today they would play against the Atlanta Hawks. But, there is only ½ a game separating the Knicks from playing against the Celtics in the first round.
The Celtics are currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and are matched up to play the Pacers, who the Knicks sit, a ½ game behind. If the Knicks can jump the Pacers they will be matched up with the Celtics for a first round matchup. That would be a huge opening round series that would garner the most attention of any matchups in the Eastern Conference and quite possibly the NBA.
The Celtics swept the Knicks the last time they met in the playoffs in 2011. If they do indeed matchup in the first round the Knicks will be looking to exact some revenge on the Celtics for the previous years, while also ending the Celtics current streak of five straight Atlantic Division titles.