Coming off a tough loss to crosstown-rival Brooklyn on Friday night, the Knicks don't get a layover as they return home Saturday for another matchup. And even tougher is their opponent in the Boston Celtics.
Boston is also playing a back-to-back, having lost to the Raptors on the road last night. But they are still a favorite in the Eastern Conference with a loaded team full of young and veteran stars.
One of those stars just so happens to be the youngest player on their team in SF Jayson Tatum. As a 19-year-old, Tatum burst onto the scene last year, averaging 16.3 points, 5.9 boards, and 1.9 assists per game on his way to a First-Team All-Rookie selection by the end of the regular season. He was even better in the postseason with 18.5 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting.
Tatum has picked up where he left off in 2017 so far, with 21.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game to kick off his sophomore season. But Tatum's production isn't the only reason to watch tonight's contest in The Garden. Even more intriguing is the matchup between him and the Knicks' very own prized youngster in Kevin Knox.
Knox was Tatum last season -- a 19-year-old looking to prove himself worhty of a top first-round draft pick. Tatum passed the test and then some, but many believe Knox has the same potential. His college coach in Kentucky's John Calipari made the comparison back in June before the draft.
"What I saw [with Boston, Tatum] never showed in college," Calipari told The Post's Howie Kussoy back in June. "Now, you have a skilled, long, tough player, who's a future All-Star. Kevin falls into that same mode right now."
At 6-foot-9, Knox shares many of the same skills as Tatum when comparing their ability to score anywhere on the floor, creating their own shot off the dribble, and getting involved with rebounds and assists. But, like any teenager would feel on the big stage for the first time, the nerves certainly showed when Knox shot 4-for-16 from the field for 10 points in his NBA debut on Wednesday.
However, he shook the jitters quickly last night against the Nets, and had a big bounce-back performance.
"In the beginning of the game I was nervous," Knox said. "I'm nervous before all game, but once I hit that first shot, the jitters go away. Coach [David] Fizdale had me in late in the game and it shows he has confidence in me."
It was the right move by Fizdale, as Knox poured in three game-tying shots in the fourth quarter, which included two big threes. Despite the loss, he finished with 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting, and 3-of-4 from three.
The matchup between Tatum and Knox won't come immediately at tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Fizdale will bring the No. 9 overall pick off the bench just like the previous two contests. But it will be the first of many one-on-one matchups when Knox finally checks in, and goes against Tatum.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson showed his admiration for Knox after the game Friday, saying "When I watch him play, he seems like a guy that's been in the league for eight years." How good does Fizdale think he can be?
"[He's] 19, baby," he said. "Blank page."
The Knicks will hope that first page is one similar to Tatum's -- if not better.