The Boston Celtics will visiting the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, and they’re taking on an opponent that were also defeated 4-1 in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
Will the Knicks win their first home game of the season, or will the Celtics spoil their plans? Catch this game live on October 21, at 7:30 AM, Manila time.
Away: Boston Celtics (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Dennis Schroder
- SG: Marcus Smart
- SF: Josh Richardson (Jaylen Brown is listed day-to-day)
- PF: Jayson Tatum
- C: Robert Williams III
The Celtics undoubtedly have one of the NBA’s best young stars in Jayson Tatum, who averaged 26.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.3 APG and 1.2 SPG in the 2020-21 season and did it on shooting splits of 45.9 / 38.6 / 86.8. He upped his output to 30.6 PPG in the playoffs but he simply couldn’t outgun the Brooklyn Nets.
Jaylen Brown, who is listed as day-to-day, will be missed if he doesn’t suit up, considering he put up 24.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.4 APG and 1.2 SPG in 58 games last season. He was severely missed in the playoffs, especially as the Celtics took on the Nets in their first round matchup.
Marcus Smart, who got paid handsomely this offseason, will be looking to prove that he was worth the money, especially after he averaged 17.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 6.0 APG during the playoffs.
The biggest X-Factor for the Celtics on opening night will probably be Dennis Schroder, who famously turned down a $84 million contract from the Lakers and found himself accepting a one-year $5.9 million deal in Boston. He didn’t put on a great show in six playoff games against the Suns in the postseason, averaging 14.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 2.8 APG while shooting 40% from the field and 30.8% from three. If he wants to sniff a contract as big as the one he turned down, he’s going to need one hell of a season.
Home: New York Knicks (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Kemba Walker
- SG: Evan Fournier
- SF: RJ Barrett
- PF: Julius Randle
- C: Mitchell Robinson
The New York Knicks ended an eight-year playoff drought last season riding the play of Julius Randle, who agreed to a four-year $117 million extension with the Knicks a couple of months ago. His regular season averages of 24.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 6.0 APG were enough to to earn him his first All-Star berth last season, but his scoring took a nosedive in the series against the Atlanta Hawks. In those five games, he averaged 18.0 PPG, 11.6 RPG and 4.0. APG in that series.
The Knicks will also be fielding two former Celtics this season in Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, adding a bit of spice to this opening day game. Walker, who never really found his footing in Boston, only averaged 12.7 PPG 4.0 RPG and 4.0 APG while shooting 31.7 / 17.6 / 90. The New York native will want to make a statement against the team whose fans and media made him a bit of a scapegoat. He’s also battled injuries the last couple of seasons, so it will be interesting to see if he manages to stay healthy while playing in front of his hometown crowd.
Fournier, who helped France hand the USA their first Olympic defeat since 2004, averaged 15.4 PPG, 3.6 APG and 1.4 APG in the playoffs last season. His 43.3% clip from the three-point line gives the Knicks a much-needed extra floor spacer, and it will be interesting to see how Coach Thibodeau integrates him into their system.
Hopes are high in New York for RJ Barrett as well, as the third pick of the 2019 draft will be looking to play well enough to net himself a big contract extension next offseason. His shooting in the playoffs let a lot to be desired, as he averaged 14.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 3.0 APG but shot 38.8% from the field and 28.6% from deep against the Hawks.
The Knicks also got some good news on the Mitchell Robinson front, and it looks like he may start the season opener after all. His interior defense will play an important role for the Knicks, who were starved for good shot blockers outside of Robinson and Nerlens Noel.
Last, but not least, long-time Thibs favorite and former MVP Derrick Rose is still a Knick, and he showed he had a little left in the tank. He actually led the Knicks in scoring in the playoffs, posting averages of 19.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.0 APG and only 1.6 turnovers a game while shooting 47.6% from the field and 47.1% from beyond the arc. He can thrive as the Knicks’ main scoring threat from the bench.
Spread: The Knicks may have a couple of new starters, but their coach and his resolute defensive systems haven’t changed. I like them at -2 at home.
Over/Under: I think this contest becomes a bit of a grindy affair, and I like the under 218.