BOSTON There's always a certain amount of chippy play when the Celtics and Knicks face each other.
Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony's relationship today was what Paul Pierce had with Quentin Richardson just a few years ago.
That's why, regardless of all the events that transpired during and after their last encounter earlier this month, this game was going to be a physical one regardless.
"Anytime you have a game that's such a physical game with two physical teams, it's going to get chippy out there," said Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire. "But the ones who keep their composure the most, have a better chance of winning the game."
That was certainly the case when these two faced off on Jan. 7, a game in which the Celtics won, 102-96.
During the game, there were a number of verbal exchanges between Garnett and Anthony, resulting in both players being hit with double technicals.
The anger built up during the game spilled into the post-game with Anthony initially making inroads towards the C's locker room, and moments later he was waiting for Garnett near the Celtics team bus.
The NBA suspended Anthony for one game because of his actions.
Not surprisingly, Anthony as well as the Knicks as a whole are trying to put the incident behind them.
"It's really about playing solid on both sides of the ball; for us it is," said New York head coach Mike Woodson. "Both teams are going to be competitive. That's just the nature of this team when you come into the Garden. We let a game get away at home. We're trying to come in and get one back. That's the only way I view it. The trash talking and everything that happened back at our place, I think that's all done. Guys just want to come and play. That's how we are going to try and approach it."
Both Garnett and Anthony have said the incident is behind them. But only will an incident-free game tonight truly appease the skeptics who still believe that Anthony will approach tonight's game with something to prove.
"I hope not," Stoudemire said. "Melo is very important to this team. We need him to play at a high level, especially tonight against these guys. It should be a very exciting game."
And one in which Garnett's in-game chatter -- better known to foes as world-class trash talk -- will be alive and well as it has been throughout his career.
While the focus for many will be on what Garnett says during the game to Anthony, Stoudemire knows he's not immune to a few verbal jabs from Garnett.
"He's been like that his whole career," Stoudemire said. "I have been accustomed to the trash talking since my Phoenix Suns days. I'm pretty used to it. That's what he does; that's what his legacy is about. We have to respect that, but at the same time we have to make sure we keep our composure and play through it."