The last time these two teams met, a verbal altercation between Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett spilled over off the court, resulting in a media circus in the bowels of Madison Square Garden and a one-game suspension for Carmelo.
The two All-Stars reportedly squashed things over the phone, but their meeting on Thursday night adds drama to a game that has lost a lot of its luster from the beginning of the season. The Celtics, who have lost their last four, are now at 20-21 and have slipped all the way to No. 8 in the East.
Boston has made a habit of overcoming lackluster regular seasons to make deep playoff runs in recent years, but their struggles in 2013 have raised the ire of coach Doc Rivers, whose threatened wholesale roster changes in the last few weeks.
New York, meanwhile, has been one of the more pleasant surprises this season, as they're currently in second place in the East, only two games behind Miami. However, they haven't been the same without injured PG Ray Felton. They are 5-6 since their floor general went on the disabled list with a finger injury.
One intriguing difference from the last meeting will be the presence of Iman Shumpert, the Knicks best perimeter defender, who will likely get the primary assignment on Rajon Rondo. Boston's offense has lived and died with their mercurial PG, and they'll need a strong offensive showing from him to get the win on Thursday.
Mike Woodson has already announced that New York will have a new starting lineup, but he hasn't revealed who the five will be. SB Nation's Knicks blog Poasting and Toasting has a post speculating about the possibilities.
According to our friends at Odds Shark, New York is a slight one-point favorite on the road. The game will be broadcast nationally at 8:00 p.m. ET on TNT.