Despite the fact that both teams come into this with losing records, these storied Eastern Conference rivals are poles apart. The Knicks, fully in rebuild mode, managed to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory the other night against the Detroit Pistons. Despite a 13-point lead at the half-time juncture, Jeff Hornacek’s side conspired to lose 111-107 come the final buzzer. Kristaps Porzingis once again shone for the Knicks with 33 points in just 34 minutes on the court but New York were let down by poor play from the guard positions, a recurring theme. Ramon Sessions and Courtney Lee combining for just 14 points in a poor contribution.
The Boston Celtics finally broke their duck last time out against the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite entering the fourth quarter behind once again, Boston blew Philly away 33-20 in the final period to come through with a 12-point win. After the loss of Gordon Hayward on night one of the new season, Boston have been forced to regroup. Kyrie Irving was finally the fulcrum of the Celtics offense he was signed to be, and the former Cavalier came through with 21 points in the win.
Three Keys to the Game
Getting something going at point guard – Often seen as the most important offensive position in modern basketball, the New York Knicks have absolutely nothing going on at point guard. Ron Baker and Ramon Sessions offer nowhere near enough. Rookie Frank Ntilikina remained off the court against Detroit, but Hornacek cannot keep him at bay forever. The Knicks’ season is effectively already over, it may be time to blood the youngsters and see what they have.
Getting Kyrie involved – Irving finally stepped up and took on the role expected of him in this Boston offense, and as a result they picked up their first win of the season. Boston must ensure their major summer acquisition is heavily involved.
Containing Porzingis – As will be written in most of these previews all year long, stopping the Knicks’ centerpiece is the key to slowing them down. Boston would likely have plenty to beat the Knicks even if they left Porzingis unguarded all night, but if Al Horford and Aron Baynes can go some way to containing him, it will spell bad news for the New Yorkers.
Matchup to Watch
Kristaps Porzingis vs. Al Horford – As will likely be the story all year for anyone against New York, stopping Porzingis will be the key to stopping the Knicks. Whether the Knicks need much stopping regardless is another matter, but Porzingis is a rose amongst thorns and their entire offense will go through him. Horford is a seasoned veteran and has come up against a multitude of much-vaunted bigs in his career; this is nothing new for him. If Horford can slow the Latvian down, the Celtics will take a comfortable win.
New York Knicks Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Ramon Sessions | SG – Courtney Lee | SF – Tim Hardaway Jr. | PF – Kristaps Porzingis | C – Enes Kanter
Boston Celtics Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Kyrie Irving | SG – Jaylen Brown | SF – Jayson Tatum | PF – Al Horford | C – Aron Baynes
Porzingis is by far and away the only worthwhile fantasy asset in New York, in the same way that Russell Westbrook was last year in Oklahoma. KP is clearly up to the challenge, and is a solid fantasy start all year unless the Knicks’ fortunes transform.
The spread is 8.5 in New York’s favor. I like Boston to cover it on their home court.
With home court advantage, the Celtics by 12.
NBA League pass or another stream are your options. It’s a 7:30pm ET start at the TD Garden.
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