The Boston Celtics (9-12, 4-7 away) visit New York Knicks (5-13, 2-7 home) on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden (noon, CSN). Here's what to watch for:
RIVALRY RENEWED: Disregard the records, particularly New York's early struggles. The Celtics and Knicks still have plenty of history and, after New York ousted Boston from the first-round of the playoffs last season, Avery Bradley said he wouldn't mind a little revenge. "The Knicks have always been a team that we got to battle with," said Bradley. "We definitely got a nasty taste in our mouth from the playoffs last year. We kinda feel like they kinda embarrassed us a little bit. I feel like [Sunday] is going to be a chance to get a little payback."
SLOWING MELO: Naturally, Carmelo Anthony is a focal point entering the matchup. As Gerald Wallace noted, "He has the ultimate green light. He’s able to pull-up and he’s a very good shooter. He’s probably the best scorer in the league. And he has the ball in his hands probably 95 percent of the time and is always looking to pull the trigger, as we call it. He’s ready for his shot. so you’ve always got to be on guard with him. There’s no relaxing or taking a minute off when you’re guarding Carmelo." The more interesting aspect to watch might be how Boston's guards handle New York's ball-handlers. Bradley struggled with Raymond Felton last season and the Celtics have to prevent the dribble penetration that plagued them in last year's playoffs.
OPPORTUNITY TO ATTACK: Tyson Chandler is out after breaking a bone in his right leg last month. Without one of the top defenders and rim protectors in the league, the Celtics know there's an opportunity to attack the basket. "I know they’re a lot different defensively, especially with Tyson out," said Wallace. "He’s been their anchor. He’s been their main guy. He kind of holds their defense together at the rim. I think with him out, one of the best shot-blockers in the league, then their defense is kind of suspect inside. That’s just me." Can Boston's undersized frontcourt take advantage of Chandler's absence?
WHAT ELSE?: Wallace admitted noon start times can mess with NBA players. He suggested it's important to jump on an opponent in a matinee meeting. ... Bradley made special note of Timothy Hardaway Jr., who had one big preseason effort against the Celtics and has been one of the league's most efficient offensive players this season. He averages 1.143 points per possession, which ranks in the 97th percentile among all league players, according to Synergy Sports.