The Boston Celtics (7-13, 5-7 home) host the New York Knicks (4-20, 1-11 away) on Friday night at TD Garden. Here's what to watch for:
• Knicks are a mess: The Knicks arrive in Boston with a 10-game losing streak, an ailing Carmelo Anthony (knee), and reports of team discord. Yes, their woes running the triangle offense under first-year coach Derek Fisher are the least of the worries for a team dangerously close to joining the Philadelphia 76ers at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Anthony's balky left knee leaves him uncertain for Friday's game, though the Knicks are hoping it has improved since sitting out Wednesday's game in San Antonio.
• Knicks at a glance: The Knicks rank 21st in offensive rating (101.4 points per 100 possessions), 27th on the defensive side (108.2). In fact, nearly every important advanced metric finds New York in the back half of the league. That includes the team ranking 30th in defensive rebound percentage, 29th in pace, and 30th in free throw attempt rate. Something the Knicks do well? Ummm, errr, they are ranked ninth in the league in 3-point percentage (37.2 percent).
• Loose Balls: This is the first of four meetings between the teams. They already played twice in the preseason this year. ... The Celtics, despite dropping their last two games, own the sixth best defensive rating in the league for the month of December while allowing only 97.8 points per 100 possessions. ... Jared Sullinger admitted he's surprised by New York's struggles. "I thought the triangle would work well with the team they had," he said. "I guess it's a learning process. I’m pretty sure they'll catch up." ... The Celtics have been sloppy with the ball this month, particularly in the fourth quarters. With the team's offensive rating declining recently, the Celtics must value possessions more.