The Good Ship Celtics sails on Monday night, straight onto the biggest stage in all of basketball. The C's are in New York to take on the struggling Knicks at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m. EDT (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).
It will be the first meeting between the two teams since mid-December, when the Celtics edged the Knicks, 118-116, on a step-back jumper by Paul Pierce with just 0.4 seconds on the clock. It will also be the first time these two Atlantic Division rivals have met since last month's blockbuster trade that sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New York from Denver.
The Celts are riding high on the heels of a stirring comeback win over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night in which they erased a 15-point, third quarter deficit to win 89-85. The bench keyed the comeback, with Glen Davis notching 20 points and eight rebounds and Delonte West adding nine points and five assists in 19 minutes, many of which came during a 21-6 third quarter run that turned the game around.
With Pierce struggling (3-for-19 from the floor, 15.5 percent combined on Friday and Saturday), the contributions of Davis, West and Jeff Green off the pine were crucial and paid off handsomely. The Celts' reserves have scored 39 points in each of their last three games.
The Knicks (35-34), on the other hand, haven't been so fortunate. They are just 7-8 since the Anthony deal and have lost five of six, including Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee, when they trailed 32-9 after the first quarter.
Anthony managed a career-low six points in a loss at Detroit on Friday night before bouncing back with 23 Sunday against the Bucks.He and co-star Amare Stoudemire have not both cracked the 50 percent shooting plateau in any of those five losses and Stoudemire has posted just 22 PPG in his last five, down more than four points from his season average.
The Knicks currently stand seventh overall in the Eastern Conference, a half game behind sixth-place Philadelphia, in their quest to register the franchise's first playoff berth since 2004.
With a win and a loss by the Bulls against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, the Celtics would reclaim the top spot in the Eastern Conference over Chicago.The C's are 12-2 against the Knicks since the start of the 2007-2008 season.