Celtics-Knicks preview: Big opportunity for C's

Celtics-Knicks preview: Big opportunity for C's
December 8, 2013, 9:00 am
Share This Post

Beating the Denver Nuggets was one of the Boston Celtics most impressive wins of the season.

The buzzer-beater at Miami?

Yeah, that was a big win as well.

But a win today at New York would not only add to the Celtics' lead atop the Atlantic Division.

Even more important, it would be yet another tangible sign of this team's growth from a squad thought by many to be tankin' away this season (whatever that means), to one that's not just talking it, but walking the "one game at a time" company spiel with wins in five of their last seven games.

The opportunity that a victory over the Knicks could provide is not lost on Brandon Bass.

"It's a great chance for us to keep this going," Bass told CSNNE.com. "We're in a little groove now and all we want to do is keep it going for as long as we can."

While a victory over the Knicks would better position the Celtics in terms of their Atlantic Division status, Gerald Wallace has bigger goals in mind.

"It's a great opportunity for us to get better," Wallace said. "We're doing good. We've turned our home play around. Now we gotta go out on the road and do the same thing. In order to be winners and champions in this league, you have to be able to win on the road."

And more success for Boston will only continue to open eyes and the minds of many about this Celtics team.

The only ones not surprised by the team's success, are the Celtics themselves.

"We're not shocking ourselves because we're not looking at it like that," Bass said. "We're just getting better each and everyday."

Here are some other keys to today's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Pretty much everything the Knicks do offensively flows through Carmelo Anthony, the lone player in the NBA to lead his team in scoring (either outright or tied) every game this season. So with him taking significantly fewer shots lately (he has averaged 11 shots in New York's last two games, down from his 20.9 shots per game average this season), Boston has to do a solid job of sticking with their assignments defensively and not let Anthony's teammates get going.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Raymond Felton: Don't think for a minute that Bradley doesn't remember how Felton wore him and the Celtics out in the playoffs last season. One could argue that Felton, more than any other Knicks player, was the difference in their first-round series. But this is a new season, and Bradley is a much more complete player.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger is coming off one of his worst games (8 points, 4-for-13 shooting, two rebounds) since being inserted into the starting lineup on Nov. 20. He's once again giving up a few inches at the center position, but look for Sullinger to be a difference-maker around the basket as well as knock down a 3-ball or two.

STAT TO TRACK:  Boston has done a much better job lately of keeping its turnovers low. That'll be important against a New York team that's among the best at making teams pay for miscues. They average 17.5 points off of turnovers this season which is tied for the 10th-best mark in the league.