Celtics Face Knicks with Win Steaks on the Line

Boston Celtics (19-4) at New York Knicks (16-9)
Wednesday, December 15
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #24 – Road Game #13
Radio:  WEEI
Madison Square Garden  
Referees:  Bill Kennedy,  Courtney Kirkland,  Leroy Richardson 
This is the second meeting between these two divisional foes. The Celtics have been clear that they don't consider the Knicks rivals, in spite of the history between these 2 storied franchises.  In their first meeting, the Celtics came out on top 105-101 in Boston. 

The Knicks have their offense in high gear and are averaging 107.7 points per game, second only to the Suns. But they are also allowing 106.6 points per game.    The Celtics on the other hand have made defense their calling card.  They score 100.7 points per game but allow only 91 points for their opponents. 

The Celtics are on a 10 game win streak while the Knicks have an 8 game win streak of their own.  The Celtics are still very short handed up front coming into this game with Shaq and Jermaine still out along with Perk and Delonte.   The Knicks are almost at full strength with just Azubuike the only one out. 

Probable Starters
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Landry Fields

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen  vs Raymond Felton 

Small Forward 
 Paul Pierce  vs Wilson Chandler

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett  vs Danilo Gallinari


Semih Erden vs Amare Stoudamire 


Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist) out
Shaquille O'Neal (knee,calf) out

Knicks Bench
Shawne Williams
Bill Walker
Andy Rautins
Ronny Turiaf
Roger Mason Jr
Toney Douglas
Timofey Mosgov
Anthony Randolph
Eddie Curry

Kelenna Azubuike (knee) out

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Landry Fields
The Knicks have moved Landry Fields from shooting guard to point guard and at 6'7" he may give Rondo some problems on both ends of the court.  On the other side of this, Ray Allen should have a slightly easier time with Raymond Felton guarding him.  In the first meeting between these two clubs, Rondo notched a triple double with 10 points, 24 assists, and 10 rebounds while Fields notched his first double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. 

Semih Erden vs Amare Stoudamire
Semih will have a big test with Stoudamire playing center for the Knicks.  Expect to see KG move over to guard Stoudamire while Erden takes Gallinari. 
Keys to the Game
Defense -  This will be the classic battle between offense vs defense.  The Celtics must keep their defensive intensity throughout the entire game.  They especially must guard the perimeter where the Knicks are second in the league in 3 pointers made.   The Knicks are also 5th in points in the paint so the Celtics also have to take care of the paint as well. 

Take it to the Hoop
- The Celtics have been outscoring their opponents in the paint throughout their win streak.  They must continue to take the ball inside and not just settle for outside shots.  Good things happen when they are aggressive and taking the ball inside. 

Take Care of the Ball The Knicks lead the league in points off os turnover at 19.4.  The Celtics must take care of the  ball and limit their turnovers in order to limit the Knicks from scoring off of them. 

- The Celtics have to continue to crash the boards in order to limit the Knicks second chance points and fast break opportunities.  The team that wins the rebounding battle will usually win the war because the effort they put out on the glass also affects the other areas of their game. 

X - Factors
Officiating, Focus 
There are two  X-Factors in this game.  The first is Bill Kennedy who still has a grudge against Doc for outing him as a homosexual.   The Celtics are 2-1 so far this season with Kennedy as a ref.  The one loss was the 2 point loss to the Mavs where the Celtics shot 7 free throws to 20 for the Mavs in spite of the Celtics dominating inside and on the boards.    Second will be focus.  If the Celtics come out focused and don't lose that focus, especially on the defensive end, they will win, in spite of all the injuries.