(19-18) -- (19-20)
|Madison Square Garden New York, NY
|7:30 PM EST
|New York Knicks
|Avery Bradley - Sore Left Hip (QUEST)
|Cleanthony Early - Injured Right Knee (OUT)
After winning their first meeting with New York this season, the Boston Celtics were streaking and challenging Toronto for first place in the division.
Just over two weeks later and it's the Knicks who are making noise in the Atlantic.
New York tries to win for the sixth time in eight games since losing to the Celtics when the teams meet at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
Boston's 100-91 home win over the Knicks on Dec. 27 was its fourth straight and left it one game back of the Raptors. The Knicks were handed their third four-game skid of the season and fell 4 1/2 behind the Celtics.
Few likely anticipated the 180-degree turnaround for both clubs since that night, particularly in light of what Carmelo Anthony said after his team shot 37.1 percent and missed 15 of 19 from 3-point range.
"It's more stress than anything because you're praying (for shots) to go in, you're hoping for them to go in," said Anthony, who scored 29 points with 10 rebounds. "It's not confident when you're shooting the ball."
New York (19-20) appears to be feeling it now, and ending a four-game series skid against Boston (19-18) will draw them even for second place in the Atlantic. The Celtics have dropped five of six since beating the Knicks.
The Knicks have had one bad game in their last seven, losing 108-81 at Chicago on New Year's Day, and their other loss in that span may have done more to build their confidence than squash it. They nearly handed San Antonio its first home defeat Friday, but Jose Calderon's 3-pointer bounced off the rim at the buzzer in a 100-99 loss.
New York returned home to begin a stretch of six of seven in the Big Apple - one of its two road games is in Brooklyn - with a 100-88 win over Milwaukee on Sunday. Anthony had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kristaps Porzingis scored 15 and sparked a big third quarter with a putback dunk and one of his five blocks.
The Knicks, allowing 95.2 points per game in their last five, led by 22 entering the fourth and won despite missing 17 from beyond the arc.
"Every spectacular play we have, we just gain energy from that on the defensive end and we're able to play better, more together as a team on the defensive end, just because we have that energy from that highlight or whatever happened," Porzingis said.
The rookie will look for a better performance in this matchup after going 4 for 13 in Boston, though he did finish with 16 points and 12 boards.
Isaiah Thomas was the key for the Celtics in that game with 21 points, and he nearly willed his team to victory in Memphis on Sunday.
Thomas scored 35 points, but his 3-pointer was ruled to have left his hand after the horn in a 101-98 loss. He hit two free throws with 5.1 seconds left and then stole the ball after the ensuing inbounds pass.
The Celtics have been limited to 94.7 points per game in their last three and been outscored by at least 11 in the fourth quarter in two of those contests.
"We know that we gave this one away," guard Avery Bradley told the team's official website after the Grizzlies outscored them 33-22 in the fourth. "We can't keep letting games slip away from us, but we need to stay positive and focus on the next game."