Tip: 7PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: TNT Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Mike Callahan, Josh Tiven and Sean Wright
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Paul Pierce netted 23 points and dished out 6 assists as the Boston Celtics topped the New York Knicks in the “Honey Nut Cheerios” game 102-96 on Jan. 7. However, Carmelo Anthony struck back with 28 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Knicks to an 89-86 victory on Jan. 24.
Get it to: Paul Pierce
The Celtics will rise as far as Pierce will take them.
Luckily, he seems strapped in for the stretch run.
Over his last five games, Pierce has averaged 20.2 points, 5.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over 32.6 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 55.7% from the field, while hitting 12 of 20 (60%) attempts from beyond the arc.
Pierce has been doing it on both sides of the floor. In fact, he has single-handedly given Boston a chance to win every game lately.
Don’t expect that to stop against a team he just loves to dominate.
Gotta stop: Kenyon Martin
Martin could wind up being the steal of the season.
Or at the least, he emphasizes “what could have been” for the Celtics.
Over his last 4 games, Martin has averaged 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds over 28 minutes per game. He’s also shot 25-of-33 (75.8%) from the floor during that span.
In just 11 games since being picked up by New York, he’s already made the team forget the injured Tyson Chandler.
How badly do you think Boston GM Danny Ainge is kicking himself for passing on Martin?
The Wild Card: Will Tyson Chandler Play?
Chandler has missed the Knicks last 6 games with a bulging disk in his neck.
However, yesterday the 30-year-old said that there was “definitely a chance” that he’d return to the lineup against the Celtics. (via ESPN New York’s Ian Begley)
In 62 games this season, Chandler has averaged 10.7 points, 11 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 32.9 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 64.5 percent from the field.
New York is 4-2 without him.
In two games against Boston, Chandler averaged 9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He did most of his damage inside the paint, collecting an average of 5 offensive rebounds a game.
Without Kevin Garnett, Chandler’s presence could really cause problems for the Celtics, who have had trouble containing opponents in the paint all season long.
How we see it goin’ down
Boston is on a 4-game slide, while the Knicks have won their last 4. It would be easy to expect New York to dominate.
However, nothing is ever that simple with the Celtics. Especially at home.
These two teams have developed a strong rivalry over the years, and even without the presence of Garnett, Rondo and possibly Chandler, expect this one to come down to the wire.
Sure, the Knicks have won 4 straight games. Except each one was against a sub-.500 opponent.
My money is on Boston tonight.