The Knicks look to get some momentum with another quality win against an Eastern Conference foe, this time the Celtics.

The Knicks (26-23), coming off of a great win against the Cavs, face another Eastern Conference challenger tonight in the Boston Celtics (35-14), who have the best record in the league under the direction of rookie coach Joe Mazzulla. Boston looks poised for another deep postseason run, even with their offseason coaching saga. Boston currently ranks in the top 10 in the NBA in: points scored per game, three-point percentage, points allowed per game, and opponent field goal percentage, per NBA Stats. Needless to say, they’re one of the toughest challenges your New York Knicks will encounter all season.

Boston is led by the “two Jays,” top-5 player and MVP candidate Jayson Tatum, currently third in the NBA in scoring at 31 points per game, per ESPN Stats, and Jaylen Brown, who is having a career year, averaging 26.9 points per game. JT and JB are complemented by great role players like Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and Derrick White to form one of the most well-balanced units in the league. Smart, who is nursing an ankle injury, will be sidelined for tonight’s game.

Boston has dropped two straight games, both to Florida teams in the Magic and Heat, but was missing some of their main guys. The Celtics will have Jaylen Brown back tonight and look to win their second game against the ‘Bockers this season. The Knicks are 4-4 over the past three seasons against the Celtics, per Land of Basketball, despite Boston having the superior team.

Defense Missing

When these two teams squared off on November 5th, Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and R.J. Barrett all scored over 22 points. However, the defense didn’t show up; New York surrendered 133 points. It’s not a stretch to say the Knicks need strong defense and at least 50-60 points from the aforementioned players tonight if they want to keep up with the C’s. With Marcus Smart out, it’s more likely we see 20-point performances from these guys. Still, making Tatum and Brown uncomfortable is always priority number one.

Quentin Grimes was missing the last time these two teams played, and Immanuel Quickley only played 13 minutes. With these arguably being the Knicks’ best defenders, having them available will be paramount tonight in pulling off the upset. Look for Grimes to score and be a key contributor, especially down the stretch.

Tatum has been known to struggle against physicality, despite being a top-five talent and player in the NBA. Look for the Knicks’ perimeter defenders to be extra aggressive tonight. JT and JB will likely get theirs, but limiting the damage is essential.

Tip-off this evening is at 7:30 EST on TNT.

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