Tonight’s Easter Sunday match up between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks will be a potential first round playoff sneak peek. Chasing an Atlantic division title is pretty much out of the question for the recently reeling Celtics, but getting better playoff position in a weak Eastern Conference will still be worth the effort.
The Celtics’ front line has taken the biggest hit possible in losing Kevin Garnett for about two weeks due to ankle inflammation. This injury has come at a crucial time for the Celtics, but there are still some positives that can be pulled out of the darkness that seemed to linger over the Celtics’ recent five game skid.
Jeff Green and Paul Pierce on the floor at the same time appears to finally be showing some validity. Over their past 10 games, they are combining to average 37.9 points per game, 11.5 rebounds per game, and 9.8 assists per game. The Green/Pierce combo will have to be in full effect if the Celtics want to be any part of a decent Eastern Conference playoff run.
The Knicks have recovered from what seemed to be a season that was heading down the path of no return. J.R. Smith has been on fire as of late. Over his last ten games he is averaging an elite 25 points per game in 35 minutes played. Smith has given the Knicks the extra scoring punch needed to catch fire during the right time of the season.
The Knicks have also quietly been showing a great defensive effort as of late. They rank in front of the Celtics at eighth overall in points allowed, yet they still rank just outside the top ten league-wide in points scored. In other words, if the Celtics want any hope of beating the Knicks tonight they are going to have to beat them at their own game. Facing the high-octane offenses has never been a true recipe for success for the Celtics, but the Celtics are also coming off of a nice offensive outing in which they put up 118 against the Atlanta Hawks, a game in which Pierce and Green combined for 47.
Without Garnett in action, this is a Celtics team that really comes down to the Pierce/Green combo. The Celtics are looking for their third straight win as the Knicks look for their eighth.
Eric St. Cyr Covers the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. Follow Him on Twitter @ericJsaint