Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks must accomplish these specific things if they want to knock off the Boston Celtics on Christmas.
- New York Knicks (16-13)
- Boston Celtics (17-13)
- NBA, Sunday, Dec. 25, 12 p.m. ET, MSG, ESPN
- Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Offensively, both games, (one in preseason and one in regular season), have been pretty tough losses, if not blowouts. If those games are indicators at all, offensively the Celtics have a definite advantage over the Knicks for Sunday’s matchup — not to mention on the mental front, where Celtics definitely got one over on the Knickerbockers last rendezvous.
But if the Knicks can maximize the potential that has been seen to evolve in their play in the past couple of months, have average, or better than average individual games and keep emotions in check, they could give the Celtics a nice run for their money — and possibly even steal the win.
Isaiah Thomas had 29 at TD Garden in November. The likes of Courtney Lee, Justin Holiday and Brandon Jennings need to use their speed and agility to keep Thomas from penetrating the basket where he scores most, and Kristaps Porzingis needs to exploit the six inches he has on Thomas when the 5-foot-9 point guard does get to the basket. Joakim Noah and Willy Hernangomez can pitch in with blocks and rebounds under the boards — their strong suits for sure.
Back in November, the Knicks gave up 27 points on 25 turnovers. So yeah … not doing that would make a difference.
Don’t get them, or at least not a pair in one setting.
The Knicks top scorer last matchup was Porzingis with 14. That’s not going to cut it. Carmelo Anthony only took eight shots, due to his 2nd half ejection, but it greatly inhibited the effectiveness the Knicks had in Anthony’s 5-8 shooting. Anthony needs to get a lot closer to his 20-plus PPG average to help give Knicks a chance, but the Celtics will no doubt be looking to shut him down physically and mentally, similar to last meeting.
Additionally, starters like Porzingis, Rose and Lee, need to trust the bench; Jennings, Holiday and even O’Quinn, who need to be reliable in their roles and play on each other’s strengths like they’ve been doing more and more confidently and effectively this season.
Courtney Lee played 22 minutes and only scored one point, while Rose scored a lower than average ten points, and Melo had only 12. It didn’t help that Jennings was also ejected shortly after Anthony. Meanwhile, Holiday averages 10 PPG against Boston, so he is definitely invited to the party.
The Knicks have it in them to win. They need to stay calm no matter who officiates or what personal vices exist or are perceived. The starters need to play at their averages or better and the bench needs to have a great game,which they have proven they can do.
If the Knickerbockers do these things, they can shut down Thomas, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and company and snag the homecourt victory. Or at the very least, they’ll head home to their families on Christmas day without too much regret.