Here are a few things to keep an eye on during Tuesday night’s Knicks-Celtics game:
Payback time? The last time the Celtics came to the Garden, it wasn’t pretty. Boston blew the Knicks out by 41 points in a loss that led to intense public speculation about Mike Woodson’s job status. In a season full of awful losses, the early December defeat to Boston may have been the worst.
“That left a bitter taste in my mouth and everybody’s mouth,” Carmelo Anthony said.
The Celtics, though, are a different team now than the one that embarrassed the Knicks. They have lost eight of 10 and are 1-4 since Rajon Rondo returned to the lineup.
The Knicks hope they are a different team, as well. They’ve won two in a row on the strength of Anthony’s hot hand. Carmelo has scored a combined 97 points in the past two games.
In Sunday’s win over the Lakers, four other Knicks scored at least 13 points. That’s the kind of scoring balance New York used last season en route to 54 regular-season wins and an Atlantic Division title.
"Last year we had five guys that averaged in double figures and I've always wanted a team where you just didn't know where it was going to come from," Woodson said. "And we know Melo's going to get his, but we need everybody to be a part of the offense and touch the ball and feel good about themselves."
Anthony also handed out five assists Sunday. The Knicks are 12-3 when Anthony hands out at least four assists.
Rondo rising? Historically, Rondo has been a Knicks killer.
He’s averaging 18.4 points, 12.8 assists and 8.6 boards in his past five games against the Knicks, per STATS LLC.
But it would be a surprise if the Celtics guard put up those numbers Tuesday night.
Rondo is likely still working off the rust from a nearly year-long absence following ACL surgery. He’s averaging 6.6 points, 5.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game so far. He had his best game Sunday against Brooklyn, pouring in a season-high 13 points in 30 minutes. He added eight assists and eight rebounds but turned it over six times.
Turning the corner? Earlier this month, it felt like the Knicks were starting to figure it out. They won five in a row and six of seven to start 2014. But that feeling was wiped away after their five-game losing streak in the middle of the month.
New York has an opportunity Tuesday to put together a three-game winning streak -- its second longest of the season. And with Cleveland coming into town Thursday, the Knicks have a chance to build major momentum going into Saturday’s showdown with the Heat.
Raymond Felton's scoring seems to be one harbinger of success for the Knicks (17-27). Felton had 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting against Los Angeles on Sunday in his best offensive performance of the season. According to STATS LLC, the Knicks are 8-3 when he scores at least 13 points and are 4-13 when he fails to reach that number.
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.