Keys to the Knicks game:
The Celtics are 1-2 when Kyrie Irving doesn’t start — 2-2 without him for most of the game. (That is, if you factor in a win over Charlotte when he was whacked early in the game).
Scary Terry Rozier is ready. Indeed, in games in which he plays 27 minutes or more, Rozier is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range, and the Celtics are 9-2.
As Hubie Brown used to say, in these situations, “it’s not so much the guy that replaces the starter that’s key. It’s the guy who gets 20 minutes or more to replace him.”
Since getting healthy, Marcus Morris has given new meaning to the phrase “low standard deviation.”
Here are his scoring totals in games starting with the Celtics Jan. 11 win over the 76ers: 19, 12, 14, 12, 13, 15, 12, 14.
Morris looks to extend his double-figures scoring streak to 9 games against New York. He’s also averaged 5.6 rebounds a game in January.
The “Unicorn defense”
Kristaps Porzingis is a major challenge for any team, but more so for the Celtics given a front line that struggles against teams with skilled or fleet-footed front lines. (Most Celtic defeats have come against the likes of New Orleans, Philadelphia, Miami, Milwaukee.)
In 9 games against the Celtics Porzingis averages 14.4 points per game (vs. career average 17.8) with a .385 shooting percentage. But this includes a December Knicks win in which he was just coming back from an injury and played only 20 minutes.