The Boston Celtics have won three straight games and figure to be fully refreshed when they host the New York Knicks on Thursday. The Celtics last played Saturday and then had four full days without a game to rest up for the Knicks' arrival.
Boston won by an average of 19.7 points during its winning streak and guard Marcus Smart was one of the many players who enjoyed the break in the schedule for a team that played 14 of its first 23 games on the road. "Just to get our bodies back right and to get our minds right and get the focus back and regroup and everything like that," Smart told reporters of the benefits. "... Sometimes you need that, especially with the schedule we've been having and constantly on the go." The Knicks have lost three of their past four games and were outscored by 15 points in the third quarter of Monday's 110-107 loss to the Washington Wizards. "We didn't come out ready," center Enes Kanter told reporters. "They had more energy and we just couldn't respond."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, NBCS Boston LINE: Celtics -13
ABOUT THE KNICKS (8-17): Veteran guard Courtney Lee made his season debut against Washington and scored seven points in 16 minutes off the bench. Lee was just thankful to be on the court after suffering a scary neck injury during a preseason practice when he collided with teammate Ron Baker. "It felt good to be honest, because (my teammates) have seen the battle that I was going up against," Lee told reporters. "They saw how I came in the first day that it happened. I couldn't move my whole upper body. So it felt good to be able to be back out there because I was definitely nervous that it could have been a career-ending injury. It felt good to have my guys behind me."
ABOUT THE CELTICS (13-10): Small forward Gordon Hayward displayed his former All-Star form in Saturday's 118-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves when he posted season highs of 30 points and eight assists and matched his season best of nine rebounds. Hayward was off to a slow start in his return from a horrific broken left ankle suffered in last season's opener but flashed his former outside shooting prowess (4-of-5 from 3-point range) and ability to get to the line (10-of-10) against the Timberwolves. "It's slowly coming along. I think my confidence is slowly coming back, too," Hayward told reporters. "I'm still not where I want to be, but for sure, me attacking is better for our team and not being hesitant or passive."
1. The squads have split two meetings this season with the road team winning each time.
2. Boston SG Jaylen Brown (back) is hopeful of playing after missing the previous three games.
3. New York G Trey Burke (knee) will miss his second straight game.
PREDICTION: Celtics 110, Knicks 102 Bet Now
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