These two old rivals could meet again in the NBA’s one-game play-in event. Perhaps then the sagging curtsey could turn this recent heartbreak into something joyful.
Another defensive slugfest ended up being bitter and angry when the Celtics caught up after seven points behind in the fourth quarter and scored a 101 on Wednesday at TD Garden -99 win over the Knicks.
The Knicks lost five out of six games and are now 2-8 in competitions decided by three points or less this season. Losing nail biters to top teams was their most recent practice. Just ask the nets, Sixers and Heat.
A wide open Marcus Smart hit the game-winning 3-pointer 35 seconds ahead to break the tie. The Knicks shooter Reggie Bullock decided to double up Jayson Tatum (25 points) in the game, leaving Smart open. The Knicks paid the price.
« Every time you commit to putting two on the ball, you have to understand what you want – you’ll be vulnerable in another area, » said Knicks coach Thibodeau. « You don’t want to miss out on face-to-face shots. And so they have two dynamic scores in Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown. So you get on with your game plan. They know you have to commit to putting two of them on, especially in the fourth quarter. So that’s part of it. «
After that, there was no more Knicks magic. After Smart’s dagger, Knick’s sixth man Alec Burks missed a 3-pointer by 22 seconds. After four, Burks was rejected again and blocked on a trip in the lane 10 seconds from the end of the loss.
« I don’t know if this is part of the trend, » said Thibodeau of the defeats. “Usually you can find out why you either win or lose. It was a hard-fought game. We felt like one of the big keys was going to bounce back and that obviously hurt us. «
Indeed, the Knicks’ dominance of the boards is waning this season. Boston beat them 61-47, racking up 16 offensive rebounds. One of them came down the track when Smart caught an airball underneath and put it in – a huge bucket that had two minutes left.
« I think the defensive glass hurt us, » said Julius Randle. « We don’t have to find bodies until the shot goes up. Take care of that Glas. We knew we were a great offensive rebounding team and it showed today. We need to lock ourselves in more. «
If the season was over now, the Celtics and Knicks would be in the No. Hit 7 against No. 1. 8 play-in games in the NBA’s new format to qualify for the actual playoffs.
The Celtics are now in seventh place between 26 and 26. The Knicks fell to eighth place between 25 and 27, while the Grizzlies were on tap in the garden on Friday.
The Knicks had a lead of seven points in the final 8:12 – and the defeat spoiled Barrett’s jewel. Barrett shot 6-on-6 with 3 pointers and finished with 29 points. However, Barrett also had costly sales. He lost his dribble in the left corner, resulting in a Brown fast break layup to give the Celtics the lead at 93-90 by 1:01.
Randle put on big numbers – 22 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and three steals – and led a third-quarter spike with a string of fast-break buckets. But in the end he only left the field 9 against 23.
« Not too frustrated, » said Randle of the Knicks’ 1-5 stretch. « We’re not going to get too much out of frustration. We have to find out what the problem is and find out. »
Thibodeau knows it is recovering now. Former Cavalier Tristian Thompson (three offensive boards) has in the first Made a number on the curtsy at halftime, with Boston’s grit making up for the lack of point guard Kemba Walker who didn’t play against each other for a bad game on his knees. « They actually started small, » Thibodeau said. « But their quickness to the ball and we knew Thompson would be back, that would be a factor. So you have to end your defense. «
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