Basketball season is finally upon us. Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics will take another crack at their 18th banner when they take on the New York Knicks in the season opener on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden in New York City (TV/Radio: TNT/WEEI).
The Celtics and Knicks are both coming off undefeated preseason, sweeping the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets, respectively, in home-and-home series. Boston edged Toronto, 76-75, on a late basket from Greg Stiemsma in the preseason opener before coasting past the Raptors, 81-73, in the finale. New York bested New Jersey, 92-83, in the first game and squeaked out an 88-82 win in game two.
Boston is coming off a season in which it went 65-26 and swept the Knicks in the opening round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs before losing to the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals. Paul Pierce was the team's leading scorer, averaging 18.9 points. Kevin Garnett averaged 8.9 rebounds and Rondo averaged 11.2 assits and 2.3 steals.
New York finished the 2010-11 regular season with a 42-40 record after pulling off the midseason trade that landed them Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. New York had no success in the playoffs, losing all four games it played against the C's. Anthony averaged 25.6 points and Amar'e Stoudemire averaged 8.2 boards and 1.9 blocks.
Boston and New York met three four in the regular season last year, with the Celtics winning all three meetings. The C's squeaked by the Knicks, 105-101, in the first meeting and won 118-116 in December. In March, Boston won again -- 96-86 -- and closed the regular season with a 112-102 win over the Knicks.
Sunday's game between the Celtics and Knicks will be the first of the NBA season.