The Boston Celtics (16-17) are coming off two commanding victories against two competitive NBA Eastern Conference opponents, but now Doc Rivers’ team feasts upon the Empire State, where the New York Knicks (23-10) have won two straight contests as well.
This will be the first clash between these two teams in the 2012-13 NBA season. With all that being said, let’s check out some of the match-ups to watch in tonight’s game.
Youth vs. Old Age:
With Raymond Felton out until late January with a right pinkie fracture, the New York Knicks will turn to their 39-year-old point guard, Jason Kidd. Kidd has posted 8.8 points, 4.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in the latest 10 games, but is his presence enough to stop and deny Boston’s crafty point guard Rajon Rondo?
Rondo is coming off a tremendous performance on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks. His contribution in the game was not all about the offense, but vitally his defense was incredible setting the rhythm throughout the game. Doc Rivers’ main guard has tallied for 16.0 points, 8.5 assists, and 8.0 rebounds in the two-game winning streak.
Felton’s absence will be known tonight. Rondo’s edge over Kidd will be a relevant factor in tonight’s match-up. The 26-year-old point guard will utilize his quickness off the dribble and on-ball defensive presence against Knicks’ veteran. A main factor is Kidd can flat out shoot the ball from downtown shooting 44% from the three-point line.
For the Celtics to secure the back court clash, Rondo must defend the three with Kidd.
Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony:
Get your popcorn ready. Anytime these two superstars go toe-to-toe, it certainly is an entertaining setting.
It seems as though the Knicks and Celtics have switched places from last year, and Boston usually has the advantage in a team aspect as Carmelo Anthony was only threat on the court in previous seasons. This year is totally different situation.
One of Boston’s big three, Paul Pierce, has brought a ton of scoring leverage to the Boston Celtics in his 14 seasons. Pierce has posted 19.8 points, 3.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game. His motion and rhythm throughout the course of the game has not come to a halt, and expect the same tonight in a defensive presence and his natural scoring mentality.
On other side is Carmelo Anthony. His development and progression in the off season is a verity. Besides the acquisition Knicks’ general manager Glen Grunwald have made, Anthony has ruptured and blossomed out into this all-around basketball player who can rebound, defend, and post 40 here and there.
Pierce vs. Anthony, who will win? This small forward battle as always will hold a lot of accountability to whether each of their respective teams win. Either way, both of these players are going to lean heavily on their supporting cast, but expect 25-plus points from both of these players.
Jared Sullinger vs. Amar’e Stoudemire:
Amar’e Stoudemire has made an impact since his return on Tuesday. It is evident the difference from Stoudemire’s production this year’s to last year’s is the power forward is currently coming off the bench.
In the previous game, he posted 11 points and four rebounds in the 114-106 victory over the Orlando Magic. For the Knicks to come out victorious, the 10-year player must outperform Boston’s rookie Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger has been fitting in nicely and acknowledging his role within Doc Rivers’ offensive and defensive schemes. The first-year player has a knack and relentless attitude to fight for offensive and defensive rebound, but most importantly has a tremendous toughness about him alongside Kevin Garnett. Suillinger is averaging 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds thus far in the 2012-13 season.
The former Ohio State Buckeye must allow the Boston Celtics receive multiple offensive possessions. It won’t be easy going up against Amar’e Stoudemire, but if Sullinger utilizes his body and quickness he will have an advantage.
A three-game winning streak is on the line, who will come out victorious Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo’s team or Carmelo Anthony and Jason Kidd’s. Stay tuned at 7:30 p.m.