HEADLINE

After in-season tourney exit, Celtics return home to meet Knicks

Field Level Media

December 08, 2023 at 4:30 pm.

The Boston Celtics will try to remain unbeaten at home this season and defeat the New York Knicks for the third time in as many meetings when the teams face off on Friday.

Jayson Tatum scored 34 points in Boston’s 108-104 season-opening win in New York on Oct. 25. He added 35 in the Celtics’ 114-98 victory over the visiting Knicks on Nov. 13.

Tatum contributed 32 points and 12 rebounds on Monday as Boston dropped a 122-112 decision to the Indiana Pacers in an NBA in-season tournament quarterfinal clash. The setback meant that the Celtics would be staying home for their next game, as opposed to traveling west to Las Vegas for the semifinals of the tournament.

“I wanted to (expletive) go to Vegas,” Tatum said. “I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to go to Vegas. Next year, I guess.”

Jaylen Brown collected 30 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics, who saw their three-game winning streak come to a halt.

Kristaps Porzingis expects to be in the lineup on Friday after sitting out the past four games due to a low-grade strain in his left calf. The Celtics said he is “available” to play on Friday morning.

“Of course, everybody was a little bit upset and mad at ourselves for not getting it done (against the Pacers),” Porzingis said. “But me especially, not being able to help out there, it hurts, especially knowing the vision that we had. But this is how it goes and that’s it. As I said, we’ll be back.”

Like the Celtics, the Knicks were bounced from the NBA in-season tournament with a 146-122 setback to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

Eastern Conference Player of the Week Julius Randle erupted for a season-high 41 points for New York, which had won three in a row and 10 of 13 prior to that loss.

Randle made 14 of 19 shots from the floor and 11 of 12 attempts from the free-throw line versus Milwaukee.

“Just getting to my kill zones,” Randle told Newsday of his improved play. “The spots that I’m comfortable getting to on the floor and creating a shot for myself, my teammates.”

New York coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t interested in handing Randle a verbal bouquet, however. He had bigger fish to fry.

“I’m more concerned with taking a good, hard look at what we have to improve defensively,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, we fell very short in that area.”

Jalen Brunson agreed after the Knicks allowed the Bucks to shoot a robust 60.4 percent from the floor and 60.5 percent from 3-point range.

“Defensively we didn’t really do anything all game. That’s the story. That’s it,” Brunson said. “I mean, offensively we were playing fine. Defensively, on that side of the ball, we just didn’t do anything. That’s it.”

Brunson, who averages a team-best 24.9 points per game, scored 24 on Tuesday. He had a team-high 26 points in the most recent meeting against Boston.

RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley each had 24 points in the season-opening loss to the Celtics.