Win consecutive games after dropping nine straight and your
season has renewed optimism. Win five of seven after a six-game
skid and you’re in first place.
Welcome to the Atlantic Division.
Those have been the respective cases for the New York Knicks and
Boston Celtics, who each go for their third straight win Sunday at
Madison Square Garden in a matchup of teams within the NBA’s
The Celtics (9-12) find themselves atop the Atlantic despite
already experiencing losing streaks of four and six games in the
first month of the season.
“We’re at the top of the division,” forward Kris Humphries said.
“That’s all that’s important.”
The Knicks (5-13) have won back-to-back games for the first time
after opening 3-13, yet find themselves only 2 1/2 games out of the
division lead. Their 121-83 home win over Orlando on Friday was the
NBA’s second most lopsided result of the season.
New York is coming off its two best games of 2013-14, shooting a
combined 55.0 percent against the Nets and Magic to win by an
average of 34.0 points. The Knicks crossed the bridge to Brooklyn
for Thursday’s game shooting 42.1 percent and riding a nine-game
“I knew it was going to eventually happen. I’m glad that it
did,” Knicks point guard Raymond Felton said. “It was a good night
to happen in Brooklyn, then we came back tonight and showed it
wasn’t a fluke. That’s what a lot of people were trying to say. We
came out tonight to really prove that.”
Without Amare Stoudemire, who isn’t playing back-to-back nights
following offseason knee surgery, the Knicks had seven players
score in double figures against the Magic.
Carmelo Anthony’s 20 points and 11 rebounds led the way. Anthony
had 19 against the Nets and is averaging 22.2 in wins while putting
up 26.8 in losses. He totaled 22 shots in the last two games after
averaging 22.2 through the first 16. He’s shooting 49.4 percent in
victories and 41.8 percent in losses.
“I wanted to try to do something a little different to see if it
worked,” Anthony said. “Me scoring 30 wasn’t working.”
New York’s outside shooting, however, is working with a
33-for-61 mark in the two wins.
Boston’s recent victories have been more modest, though the
Celtics seem to have found some consistency in bouncing back from a
Friday’s 106-98 home win over Denver was led by guards Jordan
Crawford (22 points, eight assists) and Avery Bradley (18 points).
Crawford is shooting 63.0 percent and averaging 23.5 points in the
Celtics’ consecutive wins.
Humphries contributed 18 points off the bench against Denver.
He’s seen increased minutes with Kelly Olynyk out with a sprained
ankle, though Friday’s output doubled his previous season-high
“I have a lot of faith in Kris, I have a lot of faith in Kelly,
I’ve got a lot of faith in all five bigs,” Boston coach Brad
Stevens told the team’s official website.
“We talked about that before, but the bottom line is I guess
when you look across the league it seems like every team we play
has one of their bigs out. So to have five of them that all really,
really compliment each other, that gives you the flexibility of
four being available on a given night.”
Olynyk will be sidelined for an eighth straight game, while New
York has played without center Tyson Chandler since Nov. 8 due to a
fractured right fibula.
The teams are meeting for the first time since the Knicks beat
the Celtics in six games last season in the Eastern Conference
quarterfinals. They’ve also won three straight regular-season
contests against them.