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Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Game 24: Celtics vs. Knicks

By Chris Forsberg

(19-4, 9-3 away)     -- vs. --     (16-9, 6-5 home)
at Madison Square Garden, 7 p.m. | ESPN, WEEI (850 AM)

GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
It's not a big surprise that the Boston Celtics are the hottest team in the league. What is a shock is that the New York Knicks aren't far behind.

Boston goes for an 11th consecutive victory Wednesday night as it heads into Madison Square Garden looking to halt the Knicks' longest winning streak in more than 16 years.

"They're probably going to be extremely fired up for this game and I'm hoping our guys can match that intensity," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Any time a game has energy, it's great. It's really great for us because finding ways to get them up is always nice when you don't have to do it."

With Dallas having its 12-game run snapped Monday, no team is on a longer win streak than the Celtics (19-4). Their stretch of 10 consecutive victories is one shy of their longest winning streak from all of last season.

New York (16-9) is on its longest run since taking 15 in a row March 1-April 2, 1994. The Knicks have won eight in a row as Amare Stoudemire has set a franchise record for consecutive 30-point games by reaching that mark in each victory.

While a long win streak might be expected of Boston, the reigning Eastern Conference champion which won the NBA title in 2008, New York hasn't even been to the playoffs since 2004. The Knicks, who didn't post more than four straight victories last season, have won 13 of 14.

"We have confidence. We know how good we can be. We see the room for improvement," Stoudemire said. "We can get better. We have confidence that we can win. Every game is a different story. We just have to make sure we are ready to go and play smart."

This matchup is by far the toughest challenge for the Knicks in weeks. Only three opponents among their last 14 currently have winning records.

"They obviously have won a championship a couple of years prior, went to the finals last year, so they're hands-down the team to beat in the East," Stoudemire said.

Among East teams, the Celtics have the best record overall and on the road at 9-3. They're allowing 91.0 points per game, tied with Miami for best in the league, and just 86.1 during the win streak.

"We're finding ways to win and we're doing it with defense," Kevin Garnett said.

New York is scoring a league-leading 108.5 per game, including 114.5 during its win streak as Stoudemire has averaged 33.9 points and 10.9 rebounds.

Read the full preview HERE.

FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH