2 Key Head-to-Head Matchups in Knicks’ Home Opener vs. Celtics

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at New York Knicks

The New York Knicks face a challenge right out of the gates in tonight’s season opener against the Boston Celtics. Both teams have talent-filled rosters, but two matchups carry an appeal that’s bound to keep viewers glued to the game.

Randle Outplaying Porzingis Gives The Knicks Their Best Shot to Win

Interesting to watch will be how Julius Randle fares against Kristaps Porzingis and how well Quentin Grimes holds his own when matched up against All-Star Jaylen Brown.

Randle is on a quest to carve out his third All-NBA season. Porzingis is a great litmus test to see how much Randle’s offseason progress has paid off.

The 7-4 Latvian center does not shy away on defense. He moves his feet like a small forward and is fresh off of a year where he sent back 1.5 shots per night. Porzingis’ length and agility run the risk of bothering Randle in triple-threat situations.

Randle lit up Porzingis with a 46-point masterpiece in the Knicks’ win over the Washington Wizards on Feb. 24. Be it as it may, Porzingis was able to hold Randle to 38.8 percent shooting from the field and a mere 2-11 from three in their other two matchups last year.

Porzingis has been criticized for lack of aggression and poor outings on the offensive side of the ball, however. Randle has yet to earn any career defensive accolades but has the chance to make an early impression against the former Knick.

Of Porzingis’ 23.7 points per game, 8.7 of them came in the paint. Randle’s job will be to slow down ‘the unicorn’ and prevent him from finding his rhythm inside and out. Randle was among the league leaders in personal fouls last year and will have to abstain from leaving his feet and committing silly fouls behind the line.

Quentin Grimes Will Be Burdened by Elite Two-Way Scorer

Donte DiVincenzo will be watching intently from the bench as Grimes bears the responsibility of slowing down a scoring extraordinaire in Brown.

Of the many weapons in Brown’s arsenal, his ability to freeze defenders with crafty dribble moves and rise up from the midrange or the three is a killer that many opponents have not been able to handle.

Brown’s defenders are forced to play up and respect his 49.1 percent field goal clip, granting him a highway to blow by his man and attack the rim. The 6-5, 205-pound Grimes must embrace discipline when guarding Brown.

On offense, Grimes looks to apply what he’s worked on with JJ Redick and the Knicks’ coaching staff and get going as a spot-up shooter from outside. Brown is a great defender who figures to be a thorn in Grimes’ side from whistle to whistle.

Grimes has the size and quickness to free himself from Brown when being chased on the baseline and come off the curl for quality looks. He’s not required to do nearly as much as Brown on the offensive end, therefore, shooting efficiently will be supplementary to the defensive workload he’ll be expected to handle.

The Knicks tip-off against the Celtics at 7 p.m. EST in front of their home crowd at Madison Square Garden.

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