Pre-Game: Knicks vs. Celtics; Stoudemire, Smith Out

Tonight, the New York Knicks will face off against the Boston Celtics in game two of their pre-season schedule. The game will take place in Hartford, Connecticut- roughly two hours from New York, as well as two hours from Boston – but is considered a home game for the Celtics. This is the Celtics’ third pre-season game, but their first against NBA competition.

Amare Stoudemire did not make the trip with the team and will sit out once again, as the team doesn’t want to risk further injury in a pre-season game. Kurt Thomas will start in his place. Another late scratch from tonight’s game is JR Smith, who had a marvelous game against the Wizards. He’s nursing a sore left ankle.

James White will take over starting shooting guard duties, the only remaining shooting guard with a guaranteed deal, likely bouncing last game’s starter, Mychel Thompson into the second string role.While White sat out the last game, due to injury, but he’s got a lot to prove, as he’ll be fighting for playing time once Smith, Brewer and Shumpert are all healthy. He was impressive in training camp prior to getting injured, and he’s always entertaining to watch once he gets inside the arc.

Knicks vs. Celtics games are always fun, and even though this is a pre-season game, I expect nothing different. Both teams want to show the other team up, and combining that with the intensity rookies should show, given the fact they’re fighting for a roster spot, should add to a pretty good game.

The Celtics will likely start Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger and Kevin Garnett, while the Knicks should throw out Raymond Felton, James White, Carmelo Anthony, Kurt Thomas and Tyson Chandler. Of course, the matchups to watch revolve around the teams’ marquee positions:

  • Raymond Felton vs. Rajon Rondo – Can Felton keep up with Rondo on defense, and can he maintain the ball and run the offense with Rondo’s pesky defensive skills.
  • Carmelo Anthony vs. Paul Pierce – This is usually the matchup to watch, and it should be fun again tonight. Both should start, but don’t expect them to play starting minutes. However, for the time they’re on the floor, expect a battle.

After a lackluster showing from all of the Knicks’ training camp invites in game one, tonight will be a big opportunity for them to show off. If they, once again, fail to contribute anything, their chance of making the roster will significantly decline. Luckily for them, with the absence of Amare Stoudemire and JR Smith in tonight’s game, there will be a lot of minutes to go around.

By the way, today is Chris Smith’s birthday.

Enjoy the game, folks!