Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

Let the trash talk begin: Knicks/Celtics game Thursday means Garnett/’Melo rematch

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Keep your head about you, Carmelo Anthony.

Because you know that when the Boston Celtics host the New York Knicks on Thursday night Kevin Garnett is going to be running his mouth constantly. Like he always does. And he is going to pick at whatever wound he opened in the last meeting — the thing he said that had you waiting by the team bus to “talk” to him, a move that got you suspended.

And if he doesn’t say it, you can bet the Celtics fans near the court will. Loudly.

Carmelo said that he and KG talked on the phone and it’s all good between them now. Believe that if you want, I’m not sure it goes away that easy.

Boston is going to come out desperate Thursday because they need a win — they have lost four in a row and are 20-21 on the season. By all rights they should be looking up at a playoff spot, not be the 8 seed, but fortunately for them the bottom of the Eastern Conference is atrocious. Still, the 8 seed means Miami in the first round and nobody wants that.

The Knicks could use a win, too. They are 4-6 in their last 10 and suddenly the hot Nets (10-1 in their last 11), Bulls and Pacers are all within one game of knocking the Knicks out of the two spot in the East. The Knicks clearly are not the same without Raymond Felton running the offense and getting people involved via the pick-and-roll. One end of the floor seems to be off every game, the Knicks need a night of good defense and offense together for a change.

The game matters, it’s a big division rivalry.

But what we really want to watch is Kevin Garnett getting in the ear of Carmelo Anthony again.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.