Tonight in the NBA: Knicks, Celtics renew bitter rivalry

Tonight in the NBA: Knicks, Celtics renew bitter rivalry
March 26, 2013, 12:15 pm
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The Sixers have the night off before hosting the Bucks on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Last night, a slow start doomed the Sixers as they fell 107-91 to the Jazz in Utah. Dorell Wright led all scorers with 19 points, but it was not enough to slow down a Jazz team that had seven players score in double figures (see game wrap).

Tonight’s NBA schedule features just three games, and here is a look at those matchups:

Knicks (42-26) at Celtics (36-33), 7 p.m.

Bitter Atlantic Division rivals will square off tonight in Boston when the Celtics host the Knicks. Both teams have been amongst the NBA’s most injury-plagued all season long, and both could be without their premier big men tonight.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler is listed as a game-time decision as he deals with a bulging disk in his neck, while Celtics center Kevin Garnett will miss about two weeks with an injured ankle.

New York has played surprisingly well since losing its defensive anchor in Chandler. The team is 4-2 in the six games Chandler has sat out, and is currently riding a four game winning streak. Kenyon Martin’s strong play has been a key for the Knicks during their recent run. Martin is averaging 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds while playing 28.0 minutes per game during the win streak.

As well as New York is playing, Boston is playing just the opposite. The Celtics’ recent struggles have resulted in a four-game losing skid, including a 110-106 loss to Memphis on Saturday. Paul Pierce led the way for Boston against the Grizzlies with 26 points, but the team was unable to string together defensive stops. Of the eight Grizzlies that entered the game, seven scored in double figures led by 30 off the bench from Jerryd Bayless.

Boston and New York have traded wins this season, with the most recent matchup resulting in an 89-86 win for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce both had poor shooting nights, but Anthony’s 28 points topped Pierce’s 22 and propelled the Knicks to the victory.

Clippers (48-22) at Mavericks (34-36), 9:30 p.m.

Dallas has quietly snuck back within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the West thanks to a 3-1 record in its last four games.

The Mavericks sit just a game-and-a-half back of the eighth-place Lakers after beating the ninth-place Jazz on Sunday. Thirty-seven year old point guard Mike James had 19 points and five assists for a Dallas team that shot 54.3 percent from the floor. The Mavs sunk 28 of 33 free throws on their way to the 113-108 victory.

If the Mavericks want to inch even closer to a playoff berth, they will have to defeat a Clippers team that has had their number all season long. Los Angeles has defeated Dallas twice already this year by an average of 14.0 points. Blake Griffin has played some of his best basketball against the Mavs this year, averaging 17.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.

The Clippers have won three of four and clinched a second-straight playoff appearance after a 101-95 victory over Brooklyn. Chris Paul had 29 points (17 in the fourth quarter) and 11 assists to lead Los Angeles.

Timberwolves (24-44) at Pistons (24-47), 7:30 p.m.

Before squeaking by the Bobcats on Saturday, the Pistons were in the midst of their worst stretch of the season. Detroit had lost 10 straight games, nine of them by 10 or more points.

The Pistons will return home tonight and attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 8 and 9, but their home floor has not been too kind of late. Detroit has dropped six straight at The Palace of Auburn Hills with its last win coming on Feb. 13 against Washington.

Detroit hopes to ride the hot hand of Charlie Villanueva again tonight, after he poured in 18 points including the game-winning layup against Charlotte on Saturday. Greg Monroe will look to get back on track after mustering just six points on 2 for 11 shooting in that game.

Minnesota has also been struggling, dropping three of its last four contests including a 104-97 loss to Chicago on Sunday. Derrick Williams had 28 points, but the Wolves were outrebounded 52-32 and allowed 20 offensive boards.

These two teams have yet to square off this season, but the Timberwolves have won the last four matchups dating back to 2010.

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