The Knicks surprised many by becoming an offensive force after the All-Star break. However, they showed their defensive prowess on Monday night against the NBA’s best team, the Celtics. Using their coach’s principles, the Knicks played a perfect game and won their sixth consecutive game since the deadline deal for Josh Hart. Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley had standout performances, scoring 23 points each, while Jalen Brunson contributed 16 points. The victory pushed the Knicks into the No. 5 playoff position in the Eastern Conference, leapfrogging the struggling Nets by half a game. The win was met with loud cheers of “Boston sucks” from the Garden fans.
The game saw Hart making a significant impact once again as he scored 12 points, collected five rebounds, and assisted his teammates five times, while also stealing the ball twice in the second half, all within 26 minutes of coming off the bench. On the other hand, Mitchell Robinson continued his impressive form with his third successive double-double, scoring 10 points and taking 13 rebounds after recently returning from thumb surgery.
During their winning streak, the Knicks have been scoring an average of 120.7 points per game while also shooting 38 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Meanwhile, in their recent game against the Knicks, Jayson Tatum was held to just 14 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter due to receiving his second technical foul. Although Malcolm Brogdon scored a team-high 22 points for the Celtics, Jaylen Brown was absent due to personal reasons. As a result of this loss, the Celtics fell into a virtual tie for the top spot in the East, just slightly behind the streaking Bucks who have won 14 consecutive games.
Before the game against the Celtics, Thibodeau commented on the strengths of the opposing team, recognizing their solid play on both ends of the court and recent success in making it to the Finals last year. The Celtics struggled from beyond the arc, shooting only 9-for-42. Despite their lead, the Knicks knew they couldn’t let up against such a strong opponent and had to play for the entire game. The Knicks have been one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference since December, winning 26 of their last 40 games. They will face the Nets at home next, followed by road games against the Heat and Celtics.
The Celtics struggled in the first quarter against the Knicks, shooting only 33.3% and allowing the lowest point total of the season. Despite a 14-2 run by the Celtics in the second quarter, the Knicks maintained a comfortable lead at halftime thanks to RJ Barrett’s eight straight points. In the third quarter, the Celtics made a brief comeback but were unable to close the gap as the Knicks extended their lead to secure a 100-86 victory.
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