The Knicks' road doesn't get any easier. Losers of five out of their last six games, the sluggish, struggling, new-look Knicks now stare a two-game buzz saw in the face, and part one of that come in tonight in the form of the Boston Celtics, owners of the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks' recent struggles have come against terrible opposition, with two losses to the Indiana Pacers and losses to the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks over the weekend. Maybe the step-up in competition will help the Knicks, who outside of a beating to the Dallas Mavericks two weeks ago, seem to play to their competition.
It's probably useless to look at the past two Knicks-Celtics clashes this season, since they were both pre-Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. They were also before the Celtics dealt Kendrick Perkins, a move that has not hurt them too terribly yet, but very well may in due time. Despite having the conference's best record at 49-19, Boston has allowed itself to be caught by the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the East with some sketchy play as of late. Doc Rivers' team is as defensively solid as ever, but has dropped two of its last four games.
The Knicks' recent slide will knock some of the luster off this tilt, which a few weeks ago looked poised to be one of those marquee nights at Madison Square Garden. It's the first time Anthony and Billups will suit up for the Knicks against the Celtics, who the Knicks and their fans would love to reignite a rivalry with. It's a perfect "opposites attract" game, as the Knicks will see if their near-top rated offense can score against the league's best defense. But if the Knicks don't step up to the competition, the same way they've been playing down to it the past few weeks, they could be in for a long night.