The Knicks (36-27) dominated the Celtics (44-18) at home in an all-around team win against a Jaylen Brown-less Celtics team.
With the win, New York moved into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and kicked off an important stretch of games against some heavyweight teams like Boston again this weekend and the Miami Heat on Friday.
The Knicks also extended their win streak to six against one of the most, if not the most, formidable teams in the NBA. The Celtics were coming off an electric victory against the Philadelphia 76ers and had been looking to keep the good vibes going against a surging New York squad.
Brunson is a MAGICIAN!! pic.twitter.com/UmrsgnPxIm
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 28, 2023
New York needed to start the game off with staunch defense, and that they did to start the first quarter. They were doing a good job of getting through screens set by Boston center Robert Williams III, and Mitchell Robinson was winning most rebounds in the paint. It also did not hurt that Julius Randle was once again hot from three-point range to begin the contest. But, it was a cold shooting sequence for the first half of the period with neither team getting much momentum on offense. As the quarter wound down, Robinson was particularly on point on defense with a big block on Jayson Tatum and another steal off Tatum after that. Immanuel Quickley, Jalen Brunson and Randle started to thrive off of these plays, and helped New York get a solid lead over Boston as they entered the second quarter.
The Knicks were rolling into the second and had to keep up the defensive intensity that they finished up the first with, but they were quickly plagued with two rough possessions in a row. That negative energy faded quickly, although the Celtics’ bench was doing some damage to the Knicks’ second unit. Josh Hart and Quickley, however, were able to act as the glue holding the bench together and helped to maintain New York’s lead. Once Brunson came back on the floor, the lead continued to balloon. But, thanks to both Boston tightening up on defense and the Celtics getting anything they wanted in the paint, they managed to crawl back to within ten with about two minutes to go in the period. Thanks to a quick flurry from a formerly silent RJ Barrett to close the half out, though, the Knicks were able to hold onto a 16-point lead to finish up the first half.
The third opened up with some questionable shooting from the Knicks while the Celtics were finally piecing it together from three-point range. Just when Boston looked to be getting some momentum back, Quentin Grimes had a few big plays on defense to help New York get some points in transition. He was rewarded with his first points of the night, a three-ball, with just over seven minutes left in the period. Even with the Knicks’ defense looking worse for wear, they were able to maintain some steadiness on offense to disallow any major lead change. After another solid closeout to the quarter from New York and their bench, they led 88-75 entering the fourth quarter.
Josh Hart defense leads to an easy layup on Tatum! pic.twitter.com/xO4AknMpUa
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 28, 2023
It was crunch time for New York as they sought to close this game out and get a huge win over Boston at home. Quickley ran point and pushed the pace for the Knicks with success, but the Celtics kept grinding away in the paint and drawing foolish fouls against the Knicks to even the damage. After two turnovers from Isaiah Hartenstein and Barrett, the Knicks needed a quick timeout to try and gather themselves for a big push. And, a big push they provided out of that stoppage. Robinson had a huge block and a subsequent putback on the other end of the floor, while Obi Toppin threw down a bucket in transition from a Hart pass. After several minutes of stoppage because of a challenged call on Brunson and some technical difficulties, Robinson once again made his impact known with a huge offensive board off a Randle miss and a quick lay-up. With about three minutes to go in the game, Tatum collected his second technical foul and was ejected from the game, leaving Boston without their biggest clutch scorer. The rest of the fourth went as expected with the Celtics sans Tatum: the Knicks closed things out and won in front of a raucous crowd at the Garden.
The Knicks’ leading scorer was Randle, who finished up with 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Brunson had 17 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal, while Robinson recorded a double-double with 10 points, 13 boards, two blocks, and two steals. Barrett had 10 points, seven rebounds, and two assists while Grimes had five points, four assists, and a block.
For the bench, it was the Immanuel Quickley Show. He wrapped up with 23 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Hart had another solid outing with 12 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals, while Toppin also had a good game with nine points and four boards in 12 minutes. Hartenstein had a quiet game with just one board. Deuce McBride checked in for what felt like the blink of an eye and recorded nothing for his stat line.
The Knicks will be hosting the new-look Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at the Garden before traveling south for a showdown with the Heat on Friday night.
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