IN A NUTSHELL
The Boston Celtics wanted payback tonight. Their beating at the hands of the New York Knicks still stood out fairly fresh in their collective memory, as it was barely two weeks ago—back when the Boston sports media was inevitably turning A Pretty Underwhelming Start to the Season into THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD. New York smacked them around fair and square, along with some other good teams before and after Boston (New Orleans and Memphis), but their talent paucity is too great for that to be sustainable, and the Cs had started bouncing back from their swoon.
There’s revenge, and then there’s what the Celtics did tonight against the Knicks: a game that appeared relatively close and then morphed into a 128-100 bloodbath. (Not sure how much crossover there is in Red’s readership and cult-horror viewership, but for those of you who’ve seen Mandy, remember the denouement of the chainsaw fight? It was like that.) Most of the roster positively contributed to it, from opening tip to garbage time. The players we expect excellence from (Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum) brought it, and Jaylen Brown’s outstanding sixth-man performance in his first game back from injury—21 points on 70 percent (!!) shooting—stole the show.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Playing a team under the uneven stewardship of coach David Fizdale certainly doesn’t hurt, not to mention one relying on Tim Hardaway Jr. and the hope of drafting Zion Williamson as its marquee attractions in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis. But speaking more seriously:
- Just about everything the Celtics tried on offense worked even better than the last few games would’ve led us to expect. Horford posting up to create layup and jump-shot opportunities worked particularly well. Brown’s drives to the lane were similarly effective. Kyrie had 22 and it seemed quiet/routine amid everyone eating.
- They took care of the ball pretty well, with only 9 turnovers to the Knicks’ 16.
- Horford’s performance was one of this season’s best on both ends, with 12 rebounds and 4 blocks to complement 19 points and 3 dimes.
- Seven players in double figures, three of them (Brown, Daniel Theis, Terry Rozier) from the bench.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Aron Baynes’ ankle injury after a minute and change of gameplay didn’t look good, but we’ll see how that develops.
- The score above doesn’t indicate how much of this game’s first half played out: New York got within less than 5 points more than once, usually on Boston’s defensive miscues. They also basically ignored players Enes Kanter, who is the epitome of empty-calorie scoring. As for Hardaway Jr., he legit had their number, as far as it goes; you can tell exactly how much that’s worth in the box score.
- Gordon Hayward looks better than he has in a while, but we still aren’t anywhere near the point where his 30-point Minnesota performance is the norm.
- Give me Timelord.
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
SMARF in first-team all defense form:
Uncle Al demolishing this Emmanuel “Shit, I Forgot He’s Still In The League” Mudiay drive attempt:
Despite my not-yet-dismissed concerns about Hayward, it should be say that certain things, like his passing and movement in transition, as showcased below, have been fairly consistent. Also JAYLEN DUNK KING AGAIN MOAR PLZ.