A shocking defeat at the hands of Trey Burke and the Knicks in Boston had the New York team soaring. Now, with Burke sidelined, the Knicks will have to muster courage to squash any ideas of revenge from the Celtics at home on national television.

Tonight, for one night only, we get the Knicks on TNT. It is lowkey disrespectful they have one TNT game, but then again who really wants to hear Charles Barkley get off the same take 20 times? I know I don’t.

But I digress. In their last meeting at TD Garden—not the Garden—the Knicks took down the preseason Eastern Conference champs. The difference in that game was a 39-point second-quarter explosion led by Trey Burke, who also hit the dagger to end it.

Tonight the Knicks will not have Trey, who is out with a knee sprain. That leaves room for someone to step up. Since their loss to the Knicks, the Celtics have won four of their last five games. Revenge has to be on Boston’s mind after hey were booed off their court at the end of the first half last game.

Feistiness has been the recent modus operandi for Fizdale’s squad. They have won three of their last six, but other than the blowout loss to the Sixers, they have been competitive in every single game. Last Saturday, the Knicks notched their best win of the season in an OT win over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

They’ll need a similar effort if they hope to add another impressive win to their resume. Here’s what to look out for in tonight’s matchup.


 

Don’t F Up the Rotation

Fizdale has started to key into a consistent rotation. The results have been more reliable play. The rookies have been had their moments and they have definitely had their gaffs. They had their best moment as a trio in Boston, combining for only 27 points but did so at an uber efficient 76.9 percent shooting. The roller coaster has continued since that night for each of the rooks, and there is no telling what they are capable of tonight.

Steady play from Damyean Dotson has helped mask any growing pains. In the aftermath of his bench sabbatical, Dotson has put the #WHOLETEAM on his back. Over his last four games, he is averaging 17.8 points and shooting a scorching hot 65 percent from three. Coupled with his strong defense, there has been no reason for Fizdale to send Dotson back to the bench—or mess with the rotation as a whole. If it ain’t broke why fix it?

Se Détendre

The strong play of Dotson, and the team as a whole, has left Frank Ntilikina on the outskirts. He has received two straight DNPs with end in sight at the moment. The most alarming part of this is the fact fellow guard Burke is out. Frank has been passed over for Dotson and Trier—does that mean he is not seen as a guard? Every moment we don’t see our French son, the more time we have to talk ourselves into silly stuff.

While I will admit it is frustrating that Frank is not given the same leash to “learn” as Knox has had, I do not buy the Knicks have soured on him and will trade him. His role is still not defined, leaving him in some form of purgatory for the moment. Fizdale has put every other one of his young guys through this cold spell of playing time. If Frank is who we think he is, he will be fine and this whole trade thing will sound silly in a couple weeks. In the meantime, take a deep breath.

Spotlight: Emmanuel Mudiay

Unlike the rest of his teammates, Emmanuel Mudiay had a forgettable night in his last meeting against the Celtics. He shot 1-for-5 in 20 minutes of play. Since that game he has been a different guy. He put together his best game as a Knick against the Bucks, scoring 28 points (55.6 percent shooting) to go along with seven assists.

Has Mudiay turned the corner? We have yet to see the regression we fear in the back of our heads. He has taken control of the starting job and all that comes with it. Tonight, that responsibility is Kyrie.

 

UPDATE: The story was updated to reflect the correct setting of Thursday’s matchup against the Celtics in Boston.