Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks come to town to face Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics in a Super Bowl warmup act on Friday night in Boston.
Event: New York Knicks (8-14) vs. Boston Celtics (11-10) - NBA Regular Season, Game 22.
Date/Time: Friday, February 3, 2012 - 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Friday night's game between the Celtics and Knicks will be televised nationally on ESPN. The game will be aired regionally on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson/Kyler Draper serving as the broadcast team. In addition, the game can be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network, with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell calling their 1,000th game together.
Odds: Boston is a 6 1/2-point favorite over New York, with the over-under set at 110 points.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Knicks Roster 2011-12: Carmelo Anthony, Renaldo Balkman, Mike Bibby, Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Josh Harrellson, Jared Jeffries, Jerome Jordan, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, Amar'e Stoudemire, Bill Walker. Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni.
Celtics And Knicks In 2011: Boston went 56-26 in the regular season before sweeping the Knicks in the field round of the playoffs. However, the Celtics fell short in the conference semifinals, losing to the eventual conference champion Miami Heat.
New York went 42-40 in the regular season and finished second in the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division behind the Celtics, but were swept out of the playoffs in four games by Boston in the opening round.
Boston and New York met four times in the regular season last year, with the Celtics winning each matchup. In addition, the two teams met four times in the postseason, with Boston winning all four games.
Last Meeting: Boston and New York met once already this campaign in the season opener on Christmas Day in New York City. The Celtics fell behind early, but made a glorious comeback to take a lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, Carmelo Anthony stole the show back in the fourth and finished with a game-high 37 points to lead the Knicks to a thrilling 106-104 victory. Rajon Rondo finished with 31 points and 13 assists while both Ray Allen and Brandon Bass scored 20 points for Boston. In addition, Kevin Garnett had 15 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
Last Time Out: Boston is coming off its biggest win of the season, thrashing the hapless Toronto Raptors, 100-64, on Wednesday evening.Paul Pierce, who missed the season-opening loss against New York, led the Celtics with 17 points and and eight assists while Ray Allen and Brandon Bass scored 12 and both Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson added 11 points for Boston.
Meanwhile, the Knicks were bested by the Chicago Bulls, 105-102, on Thursday. Amar'e Stoudemire had 34 points and 11 rebounds while Anthony racked up 26 points and six boards as the Knicks shot 48.9 percent. Landry Fields scored 17, Iman Shumpert had 10 points and eight assists and Tyson Chandler had nine points and eight rebounds.
Stats Central: Paul Pierce is the Celtics' leading scorer, averaging 17.8 points. Rajon Rondo is the team's leader in assists per game (9.4) and steals (1.7). Kevin Garnett averages a team-high 7.2 rebounds and Jermaine O'Neal is averaging a team-leading 1.4 blocks. Boston ranks 25th in the league in scoring (90.3 PPG), 29th in team rebounding (38.6 RPG), seventh in assists (22.1 APG) and second in points allowed (86.9 PPG).
Carmelo Anthony is the Knicks' leading scorer, averaging 23.8 points. Tyson Chandler is averaging 10.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while Anthony averages 4.3 assists and Iman Shumpert averages 2.1 steals. New York is ranked 15th in the league in scoring ((94.6 PPG), 17th in rebounding (41.9 RPG), 23rd in assists (18.9 APG) and 16th in points allowed (95.1 PPG).
Storyline: Consider this a Super Bowl warm up act. While we'll have to wait until Sunday for the Patriots and Giants to duke it out in Super Bowl XLVI, we'll get a taste of the storied Boston-New York rivalry on Friday. Well, sort of. Boston and new York played in a couple of dandies last season, and they also had a great game in the NBA season opener this year. The Celtics fell just short in round one, so you can expect them to come out with energy and motivation.
The continued storyline of note for the Celtics is their health. This team has missed countless players throughout the season, and the injury bug hasn't gone away. Rajon Rondo has missed eight straight games, and he is a game-time decision. Rondo was participating in shootaround earlier in the day, giving Celtics fans hope that he might play.
What else should we expect in this game? Well, being on ESPN, you should expect tons and tons of hype for the Super Bowl using the Boston-New York angle. I'm sure we'll get a lot of that inside TD Garden, too. From a basketball standpoint, both of these teams are not where they would have hoped to be at this point in the season. This game will be a good proving ground for each side to gauge where they are at heading into the middle of the season.
Players To Watch: Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are without a doubt the two best players on the court. When 'Melo gets going, few can stop him. The same can be said for Amar'e, so keep an eye on those two. In all likelihood, both will have solid games.
For Boston, they might get a boost by the return of Rajon Rondo, who has missed significant time dealing with a right wrist injury. Ray Allen is also back in action, which should help the Celtics on the scoring end. And as always, watch out for point forward Paul Pierce, who has filled in at the point admirably in the absence of Rondo.
Prediction: It's foolish to try and predict games between Boston and New York teams. In the end, it usually winds up being horribly off base. But I'll give it a shot. Both teams keep it close, but the Celtics get revenge for the early season loss in New York. Final Score: Celtics 94, Knicks 89.
Friday, Feb 3, 2012, 8:00 PM EST