5 Things to Know: Knicks Square Off Against Celtics in Sunday Matinee
1. Two days after suffering a home defeat to the Heat, the shorthanded Knicks marched into Miami and toppled the home squad 98-94. A balanced effort of 25 team assists, five players in double figures, and holding the Heat to under 100 points led to the victory. Kristaps Porzingis dropped a team-high 22 points, Courtney Lee added 20, and Willy Hernangomez snatched 12 boards. With the Friday night win, New York captured the season series over the Heat and are now 2-1 in its last three outings.
2. Derrick Rose (sore knee), Carmelo Anthony (sore lower back), and Lance Thomas (sore hip) were all sidelined on Friday night in Miami. The status of the three players is unclear heading into the home contest against Boston on Sunday. On Friday, head coach Jeff Hornacek placed Ron Baker, Lee, Sasha Vujacic, Porzingis, and Hernangomez in the starting group.
3. Avery Bradley (illness) will not travel to New York for the matinee tilt against the Knicks. Head coach Brad Stevens will most likely start rookie Jaylen Brown in the backcourt, creating a big starting lineup aside from All-Star Isaiah Thomas. Brown, Thomas, Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, and Al Horford started on Friday night against the Magic.
4. The Celtics 8-2 surge over their last 10 games has launched them past the defending champs in the Eastern Conference standings. Boston’s slight lead over the Cavaliers is worth watching as it could set them up for home court advantage throughout the playoffs out East. While Thomas is the key cog offensively for the Celtics, the squad is well rounded by ranking in the top 10 in net rating, No. 3 in assist-to-turnover ratio, and No. 13 in pace.
5. Boston won the first two games of the series before New York topped the Celtics 117-106 on January 18. Rose scored a team-high 30 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the floor in that victory. In the win, the Knicks were incredibly efficient by connecting on 50.5 percent from the floor and 40 percent behind the arc. Sunday marks the season series finale between the two teams.
by Jonah Ballow