This was a higher scoring game than anticipated. Both the Celtics and the Knicks scored above their averages in points per game by several points (Boston 110.7 and New York 101.6). The 1st Quarter was the biggest surprise, with the Knicks scoring the least and Celtics scoring the 2nd lowest amount of points in the 1st Quarter this season. Boston held a 31-30 lead after 1. The Knicks played one of their best games of the season, owning a 4 point lead heading into the 4th Quarter, despite being without their leader, Marcus Morris Sr. and defensive anchor, Frank Ntilikina. New York opened up a 6 point lead with 8 minutes remaining in the game. Boston responded to end the game on a 26-11 run. Jayson Tatum (30 points) and Jaylen Brown (28 points) took over down the stretch, combining for 17 points in the last 8 minutes. The Knicks held Celtics point guard, Kemba Walker, in check most of the night. Walker finished with 16 points, below his average of 21.6 per game, and shot a poor 33.3% from the field. Walker did record his first double-double as a Celtic, racking in 10 assists and added 5 rebounds. Ex-Knick, Enes Kanter, also provided Boston good minutes off the bench, posting a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) in just 16 minutes! New York had several standout performances including Julius Randle scoring 26 points, the 2nd most he’s scored in a game while playing for the Knicks. Dennis Smith Jr. picked up the slack with Frank Ntilikina leaving the game with an injury, scoring 17 points, dishing out 7 assists, and recording 2 blocks, while shooting an efficient 54.5% from the floor and playing 38 minutes. RJ Barrett (16 points and 7 rebounds) and Kevin Knox (11 points and 5 rebounds) both showed sparks in this game, but shot inefficently (30.8% and 44.4% respectively).
Why The Knicks Lost
The Knicks lost this game due to poor shooting from three and the foul line, along with very costly turnovers in crunchtime. The Knicks shot an atrocious 8-26 (30.8%) from three and 26-37 (70.3%) from the foul line. This partially can be attributed to them being without their top three-point and free throw shooter Marcus Morris Sr. who is shooting 52.4% from downtown and 83.9% from the charity stripe. Despite being without Morris Sr., the Knicks still need to find a way to shoot the basketball at a higher percentage. The same goes for New York with turning the ball over, even though they were without their leader in assist to turnover ratio, Frank Ntilikina (3). The Knicks turned the ball over 16 times, 5 times in the 4th Quarter. The game was tied with 6:03 left to go, when Coach Fizdale called a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Knicks turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions. Down the stretch, the Knicks lacked crisp and free ball movement, leading to several costly turnovers and subpar shot selection. This resulted in the Boston Celtics taking the lead and pulling away quite easily in the final minutes of the game.
New York will have a quick turnaround, playing a back to back on the road in Milwaukee tonight. The Bucks share the best record in the NBA with the Lakers, an impressive 17-3. The Bucks are currently 8-1 at home and on an 11 game winning streak, led by one of the best and most talented players in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak will be a very tough cover for the Knicks, as he is 2nd in the NBA in scoring (30.9 points per game). The Knicks will desperately be hoping they have their top defender, Frank Ntilikina, and leader Marcus Morris Sr., back for tonight’s contest.