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Knicks-Celtics Preview

AP - Sports

Despite Rajon Rondo nursing a sprained right wrist, the Boston Celtics have moved back above .500.

With the struggling New York Knicks coming to town, the Celtics could continue their climb even if their All-Star point guard can't go.

Boston continues its five-game stretch at TD Garden on Friday night when it tries to beat the Knicks at home for a 12th consecutive time including postseason.

Rondo has been sidelined for the last eight games, but the Celtics (11-10) have won six of them. Boston began its five-game homestand Wednesday with a 100-64 rout of Toronto - a contest lopsided enough that coach Doc Rivers rested all five of his starters for the entire fourth quarter.

The Celtics moved above .500 for the first time since Jan. 4, when they were 4-3.

"We've gone through a lot. So has everyone else in the league,'' Rivers said. "To start out slow like we did and get over that number, it's good for us. We've just gotta keep doing it."

Rondo would obviously be an upgrade from Avery Bradley and rookie E'Twaun Moore, but those two young guards have more than held their own. Bradley is averaging 6.8 points and 2.6 assists while starting in Rondo's place, while Moore is averaging 7.2 points in his last six contests.

"Maybe it's a blessing in disguise, because you never know down the road if anybody else gets hurt, you need guys to come in and step in and fill that role," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who missed the first three games this season - including a 106-104 season-opening loss at New York on Dec. 25 - with a bruised right heel.

Rondo led the Celtics with 31 points, 13 assists and five steals in the Christmas Day matchup, but Carmelo Anthony's 37 points helped the Knicks (8-14) snap an eight-game overall skid in the series, including a first-round sweep in last year's playoffs.

The last time these teams met in Boston, Anthony equaled a playoff career high with 42 points and grabbed 17 rebounds - a postseason best - but the Knicks fell 96-93 loss in Game 2 on April 19.

Anthony sat out a 112-102 loss in Boston six days earlier to conclude the regular season, so this will be his first regular season appearance at TD Garden in a Knicks uniform.

New York could definitely use a big game from Anthony as it continues its first back-to-back-to-back series of games since 1999. The Knicks began the stretch of three games in as many nights Thursday with a 105-102 home loss to Chicago.

Amare Stoudemire had 34 points and 11 rebounds. Anthony chipped in 26 points, but he missed a desperation 3-pointer as time expired in New York's 10th loss in 12 games.

"For the most part, we played extremely hard (Thursday),'' Anthony said. "We've got to pat ourselves on the back for something."

The Knicks, who host the New Jersey Nets on Saturday, are trying to avoid their first four-game road losing streak since an 0-5 stretch March 10-26.

New York has not won in Boston since a 101-77 victory Nov. 24, 2006.

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