After a surprising win against the Orlando Magic on the road this past Thursday night, the Knicks return to Madison Square Garden to face off against the Boston Celtics in an Atlantic Division bout.
In what can only be described as an inconvenient win against the Magic, the Knicks’ tankathon seems to have come to an abrupt halt. Now tasked with facing a 41–19 Boston Celtics team, New York will be looking to get back on track, progressively dropping in the lottery.
The Celtics come into this game having won only one of their past four games, most recently defeating the Detroit Pistons comfortably last night in their first game after the All-Star Break. In limited minutes off of the bench, Daniel Theis starred as he posted 19 points (8-of-10 shooting), seven rebounds, and two steals en route to a 110–98 C’s victory.
The Knicks, too, got a strong bench performance in their win over the Magic. Recently promoted from New York’s G League affiliate, Westchester, Trey Burke made his presence felt in his quest for more playing time, scoring 26 points (12-of-22 shooting) while also contributing six assists, four rebounds, one steal, and a block to break an eight-game losing streak right after the All-Star Break.
Here’s what to look out for in tonight’s matchup versus Boston:
Grapple for minutes at point guard
The Knicks now seemingly have three viable, young options at point guard in Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Burke. In their win over the Magic, both Ntilikina and Burke played 30 minutes while Mudiay started, playing 23 minutes. Jarrett Jack was benched for the entire contest as a result.
26 points now for Burke after this make pic.twitter.com/R7d04ZB1pI
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 23, 2018
Moving forward, head coach Jeff Hornacek, having said that young players will be the focus of the second half, will need to figure out the best rotation to get all three adequate minutes while also experimenting with potential lineups.
Tim Hardaway Jr. getting back on track
Hardaway Jr. has proven to be a streak hitter since returning to the Knicks, and one of the biggest complaints leading up to last week’s break was how he was letting the Knicks down with his extensive cold spell. Hardaway Jr. was able to garner some momentum going into the break when he posted 37 points in a loss to the Washington Wizards and continued that same prowess out of the gate as he scored 23 (9-of-19 shooting) against the Magic on Thursday night. Timmy will be matched up against rookie Jayson Tatum in Saturday night’s game, which should be the most exciting matchup of the night on both ends of the floor.
Monitoring Troy Williams
The Knicks signed former Houston Rocket Troy Williams to a 10-day contract, allowing him to make his debut against the Magic. In limited minutes, Williams impressed, making two of his three shots for four points in total. In his second game, Williams will look to make do with whatever opportunities he gets as he seeks to re-up on a second 10-day contract—or find a semi-permanent spot on New York’s roster for the remainder of the season. In what could likely be a blow out loss, Williams would likely see a larger share of minutes in garbage time tonight.
The Knicks and Celtics tip-off at 7:30 p.m. EST at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, February 24.