Celtics - Knicks preview: Another blowout coming?

Celtics - Knicks preview: Another blowout coming?
December 13, 2013, 10:45 am
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BOSTON — When it comes time to scout the New York Knicks, the alpha and omega for them is Carmelo Anthony.

And then there's the Boston Celtics whose lead-by-committee approach hasn't been great, but it's been enough to get them to the top of the struggling Atlantic Division will the Knicks remain near the bottom - scratch that, at the bottom - of the division.

The unpredictability in who to lock on to among the Celtics players, was among the many reasons why Boston administered a 41-point drubbing to the Knicks on Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden.

And it will certainly play a role in tonight's rematch.

That unpredictability, once considered a weakness in this Celtics team, is where many of the Boston players draw strength from now.

"We got a locker room full of guys that can put up numbers any night," Boston's Jordan Crawford told CSNNE.com. "That's who we are; the kind of team we have."

In 24 games this season, the Celtics have had seven different players either lead or share the team-lead in points scored.

Rajon Rondo, still recovering from a torn right ACL injury suffered in January, heard the rumblings that his absence would create a rudderless team that would get smashed by opponents on a regular basis.

Instead, they are crushing perceptions, and a few opponents like the Knicks, along the way as a collective group fueled by different players stepping up at different times.

"The way the team is playing now, it's hard to scout our team," Rondo said. "It's not just one guy that's doing a load of the scoring. It's similar, but not to compare us, but the Pacers are a hard team to scout. They have five guys every night in double figures."

Here are more keys to tonight's game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: New York will have a very different look than the team Boston beat to a pulp less than a week ago. Kenyon Martin (sore left ankle) did not play in that game, but he'll start tonight. And point guard Raymond Felton, who missed all six of his shots in Boston's 41-point win on Dec. 8 over the Knicks, is out with a hamstring injury. Replacing him in the starting lineup has been Pablo Prigioni.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs Carmelo Anthony: The evolution of Brandon Bass as a big-time defender continues tonight against Anthony, a prolific scorer that Bass has defended about as well as anyone in the NBA. In Boston's 41--point win at Madison Square Garden last week, Anthony had 19 points on 5-for-15 shooting. Bass countered with an efficient 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger (21 points, 9-for-13 shooting) had no problem dealing with 7-foot Andrea Bargnani's length in New York last week. Not only was he scoring on him, but he also did a solid job defensively in limiting him to just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

STAT TO TRACK: Teams have been living well from the free throw line against the Knicks all season.  Their opponents are averaging 27.1 free throws attempts per game, tops in the NBA. It was one of the many factors contributing to Boston's blowout of the Knicks on Dec. 8. In that game, Boston went to the free throw line 27 times with 22 makes.