Knicks at Celtics
The Boston Celtics need some sort of spark to put an end to their four-game losing streak and a visit from a bitter rival could provide that. Boston has not won since a contentious victory over the New York Knicks on Jan. 7 extended its winning streak to six games. Now the Celtics will look to put a halt to the skid when they host the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks on Thursday night. The previous meeting featured an altercation between Boston's Kevin Garnett and New York's Carmelo Anthony that led to a one-game suspension for the Knicks' superstar.
New York is in a funk of its own, having dropped four of six following Monday's 88-85 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets. An obvious concern for the Knicks is that all four losses have come against Eastern Conference contenders and two of them were at Madison Square Garden. New York is seeking to end a drought of six-plus years in Boston, having lost the last 11 matchups dating to Nov. 24, 2006.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE KNICKS (25-14): With Raymond Felton still sidelined with a broken finger, Anthony is the one constant offensively in New York's starting unit. In the four games since the loss to Boston, Anthony has averaged 30.3 points and outscored his fellow starters by a total of six points combined. Sixth man J.R. Smith is putting up an average of 13.3 points in his last four games following a sensational 10-game stretch in which he had eight 20-point games and averaged 23 points.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (20-21): Boston continued its trend of playing up or down to the competition in Tuesday's 95-90 loss at Cleveland. Three of the team's past four defeats came against teams that are a combined 45 games under .500. Point guard Rajon Rondo, who missed the last meeting with the Knicks while serving a one-game suspension, had 17 points and 13 rebounds - both team highs - in Tuesday's loss. He had a triple-double in New York's last visit to Boston in March 2012.
1. Anthony has averaged 25.2 points in 19 career games against the Celtics.
2. Rondo has set career highs against the Knicks in rebounding (27, March 2012) and assists (24, October 2010).
3. Five of Boston's past six home games with New York (playoffs included) have been decided by four points or fewer.