Knicks look to keep building momentum against juggernaut Celtics

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks
Jan 20, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) isa defended by Atlanta Hawks guards Aaron Holiday (3) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) during the first half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are looking to keep the momentum on their side on Thursday when they take on the NBA’s best team this season, the Boston Celtics, in a prime-time matchup on the road.

The matchup against the two rivals was flexed onto national television last week to now be broadcast on TNT and starts a short stretch of three consecutive games where the Knicks play on the national stage.

Thursday’s matchup will be the second between Boston and New York this season, with the first being a 133-118 Celtics victory in early November at Madison Square Garden.

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The Knicks will look to capitalize off of a huge win:

The Knicks got a much-needed victory in their last game, which was against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That win snapped a four-game losing skid and saw Julius Randle tie his career-high with eight made three-pointers.

New York will now look to carry that momentum into TD Garden, a place that the Celtics have owned this season. Boston has an 18-5 record overall and have won their last seven games at home this season.

The Celtics lost their last game to the Miami Heat on the road, but they sat most of their rotation guys for rest or injury management as they were playing in the second half of a back-to-back. Those players (except Marcus Smart) are expected to be back and well-rested for Thursday.

Similar to last game, the Knicks will be going up against a pair of All-Stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum is having an MVP season for Boston, averaging 31/8/4 and shooting 46.8% from the field. Brown is having a superb season as well, with a 26/7/3 stat line.

Stopping them will not be an easy task, as both players go on stretches where they obliterate opposing defenses and, at times, do it in a “your turn, my turn” fashion. It will be even more challenging for the Knicks, given that they will not have their defensive tone-setter, Mitchell Robinson (thumb surgery).

Therefore, New York will need to get big games out of their star trio of Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett to keep up with Boston’s lethal duo. It may even take another Superman performance from Randle to get the Knicks over the hump.

Looking at injuries, Robinson is out for the Knicks, and Evan Fournier (personal reasons) is questionable. For the Celtics, Marcus Smart (ankle) is out.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_