The New York Knicks expect to have star forward Kristaps Porzingis back in the lineup when they make a pit stop in Madison Square Garden on Thursday to host the Boston Celtics. Porzingis has missed the last two games due to knee soreness, and the Knicks dropped to 1-5 without the 7-3 Latvian when they fell 109-91 at Charlotte on Monday.
“I still feel it just a bit,” Porzingis told reporters at practice Wednesday. “This kind of injury I’m going to feel it for a little bit. It’s nothing bad. I just got to make sure the knee’s stable and I’m feeling stable on the court. I can’t have instability sensation.” New York lost at Boston earlier in the season as the Celtics were in the early stages of a 22-2 run, but they’ve split their last eight games and lost 90-89 on Wednesday night at home against a Miami Heat squad without its top two scorers. Kyrie Irving produced 33 points but missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer as Boston was held below 90 points for the second time this season. Irving was one of three 20-point scorers for the Celtics in the 110-89 win over the Knicks in the first meeting, while Porzingis was held to 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, NBCSN Boston
ABOUT THE CELTICS (26-8): One of the bright spots in the loss to Miami was another hot-shooting night for Marcus Smart, who hit five 3-pointers and is 9-for-13 from long range over the last two games. Rookie Jayson Tatum, who leads the NBA in 3-point percentage (50.5), missed both of his tries and also suffered a dislocated pinky finger that has his status in doubt for Thursday. “The doctors looked at it and felt like it was structurally OK,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters of Tatum’s finger. “They taped it up and he’ll probably be sore tomorrow.”
ABOUT THE KNICKS (16-14): New York had won four straight while averaging 111.5 points before being held to 3-for-18 from 3-point range in the loss to the Hornets. Two of the 3-pointers came from forward Michael Beasley, who continued his solid play in place of Porzingis with 23 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. The 28-year-old Beasley is averaging 26.5 points over the last two games and 20.2 on 54.7 percent shooting in his six starts, compared to 6.9 on 48.1 percent as a reserve.
1. New York owns an Eastern Conference-leading 14 home wins.
2. Knicks SG Courtney Lee was held to a season-low two points on 1-of-8 shooting on Monday.
3. The Celtics have won three straight at Madison Square Garden.
PREDICTION: Knicks 111, Celtics 109