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New-Look Knicks Face Tough Test Vs. Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — With mixed results in their first two games, the Boston Celtics are looking forward to facing their next opponent – and perhaps continue dominating them.

The Celtics look to win their eighth straight at home over the New York Knicks when the longtime rivals meet Saturday night in Boston.

After an impressive victory over LeBron James and star-laden Miami in their season opener, the Celtics fell to Cleveland 95-87 on Wednesday with a sloppy performance in what coach Doc Rivers correctly assumed would be a let-down game against James’ former club.

Rivers’ squad turned the ball over 19 times and was outscored 27-14 in the fourth quarter.

“We turned the ball over a lot. I think we played good defense in stretches only,” Paul Pierce said. “We were too inconsistent on that end of the court.”

Despite his team’s struggles, Rivers is confident Boston will improve as the season progresses.

“We’re going to be really good. I can take that (from first two games). We have yet to play well in my opinion and we’re 1-1,” he said. “We’re going to be who we thought we were.”

After leading his team with 17 assists in the season opener, Rondo scored a team-high 18 points against the Cavaliers. Rondo, though, may want to stick to dishing out the basketball, as Boston was just 10-9 last season when he scored more than 18 points.

Kevin Garnett had nine points Wednesday with a game-high 15 rebounds, his highest total since Jan. 9, 2009.

Garnett should bounce back against New York, which he has scored in double figures against 29 of the 32 times he has faced them over his career.

Boston is 23-4 overall and 11-1 at home against the Knicks when Pierce scores more than 20 points.

The Celtics have taken 20 of the last 25 from New York, which is looking to start 2-0 for the first time since 1999-2000 after defeating Toronto 98-93 in Wednesday’s season opener.

Amar’e Stoudemire, the team’s major offseason acquisition, scored 19 points to go with 10 rebounds and was excited to come away with a win in his Knicks debut.

“You want to beat the teams you feel you’re supposed to beat, so tonight was a big win for us,” he said.

Wilson Chandler, who started 64 of the 65 games he appeared in last season, came off the bench to score a team-high 22 points on 10 of 18 shooting from the floor.

“The reason we want him off the bench is not because he’s not good, it’s because we need the firepower,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.

New York (1-0) sits above .500 for the first time since Nov. 22, 2008, but knows it’ll have to step up its play against the defending Eastern Conference champions.

“We’ll see if we can steal one. They’re playing great so we’ll see what we can do,” said Stoudemire, who is averaging 19.4 points over seven career games in Boston while with Phoenix, including a 42-point effort in the Suns’ 128-119 win on Jan. 28, 2005.

The Knicks’ last win in Boston came Nov. 24, 2006 as they limited Pierce to 12 points, matching his fourth-lowest total against them in 44 career-games.

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