The New York Knicks (10-45) are in serious rebuilding mode. Their leader, Carmelo Anthony, is out for the rest of the season, and only the Minnesota Timberwolves have a worse record. They are taking on the Boston Celtics (21-33) who have been playing terrific basketball, boosted by the recent addition of Isaiah Thomas. This matchup is big for the Celtics who are just two games away from the Brooklyn Nets who are holding onto the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
This game is pretty much meaningless for the Knicks, who currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. New York is currently shooting 40.7% in the past seven games, and have yet to win a game this season without star forward Carmelo Anthony, who is shut down for the season. This one may seem like a no brainer victory for the Celtics, but there are certain aspects fans should keep an eye on that may give New York a shot in this one.
One bright spot for the Knicks this season has been the play of shooting guard Langston Galloway, who has emerged as one of the Knicks’ top scorers this year. Averaging 11.7 points per game, Galloway has been impressive, especially since he spent the majority of this season in the D-League. Although the Knicks don’t have many weapons on offense, Galloway still finds a way to distribute the ball relatively well, averaging 3.4 assists per game. However, he has struggled against division opponents averaging just 8 points per game against teams in the Atlantic division.
Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley who has been nothing short of sensational recently, will try to make sure that number stays as low as possible. Bradley’s game has really picked up since the All Star Break. He has gone from 13.4 points and 1.5 assists per game before All Star Weekend, to 23.7 points and 4 assists per game ever since. Bradley is emerging as a leader on this Celtics team, and is looking to use this relatively weak matchup to his advantage.
Bradley is not the only Celtic who has emerged since the All Star break. Celtics forward Jae Crowder has become a huge part of the Celtics recently. After averaging just 5.4 points per game before the break, Crowder has really stepped up his game. He has averaged 13.3 points in the three games since the All Star break, and has averaged 10.3 points in the month of February. He will be coming off the bench tonight behind Evan Turner, but Crowder is someone to look out for in tonight’s game. He is beginning to make a name for himself on this red hot Celtics team.
He will be facing off against the rookie out of Wichita State, Cleanthony Early. Early has not had the rookie season he has hoped for. In just 20 games this season, he averages 3.8 points and .7 assists per game. However this is Early’s third game as a starter in his NBA career. We’ll see if we see glimpses of the solid 3-point range and explosiveness at the rim that the Knicks drafted him for.
The Celtics should be able to defeat their division rivals tonight, but you never know. One of those hidden gems in the Knicks roster could shine tonight.
Prediction: Celtics 111, Knicks 88
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