7 Takeaways From the Celtics vs. Knicks


Celtics

The Celtics have become the second team this season to take a 25-point lead.

Robert Williams III of the Greeley Tribune Celtics and Alec Burkes of the New York Knicks fight for the ball. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

To cancel last shot (If you can): The Celtics didn’t deserve to win Thursday’s game against the Knicks.


Not when he let Ivan Fournier go for 41 points—his season-high (for the record, all three of Fournier’s season-highs this year have come against the Celtics). Not when they took a 25-point lead in the first half (becoming the second team this season to take such a comfortable lead). Not when he spent another postgame talking about effort and adversity (whether those elements are really a topic for a day). Not when the offense is again embroiled in late, with odd personnel decisions.

The Celtics have now lost consecutive games in hand-to-hand fashion for days on end – Jaylen Brown missed a layout With time out on Wednesday, setting the stage for Thursday’s downturn. They keep digging, but they haven’t found the bottom of the rock yet. However, they have found the bottom of the Atlantic Division and it looks like they are on the verge of lottery season.


They could use some more shooting, but at this point, what about this team suggesting they should be buyers before the February trade deadline?

More from the Celtics’ second consecutive painful defeat.

2. It will come as cold comfort to Celtics fans, but Jason Tatum really couldn’t have defended RJ Barrett’s shot better.


Barrett is left-handed, and Tatum remained attached with his left hand. He moved his legs and came as close to defending the shot as he could safely without fouling.

Sometimes there’s really nothing you can do (regarding the last shot, anyway).

3. The strange thing about Thursday’s game was that there were a lot of bright spots before everything was settled. A big player was Robert Williams, who wielded the nicks around the rim for the most part of the game. Williams threatened his second career with a triple-double – accumulating six points, nine rebounds, seven blocked shots – and whenever he left the floor, the Celtics found themselves in hot water. While the Celtics were once again called upon by Ime Udoka for their effort and intensity after the game, Williams dove across the floor and made extra assets.


“We just have to be together,” Williams said. “At the end of the day there are five of us. The crowd was so loud that sometimes we couldn’t even hear the coach. So I think with the players on the court we have to calm ourselves down, bring ourselves along Will happen.”

Something to keep an eye on: While Williams and Al Horford seem to still function in the starting lineup (the Celtics outstrip opponents by about 15 points per 100 possessions with their preferred starts), the pair remain in full swing for the rest of their time. Doesn’t even produce games. The two-man lineup with Williams and Horford outscored by 4.8 points per 100 possessions, even with a big boost from the start.

4. There would have been a lot more to Marcus Smart taking this shot than swinging it at Brown, and to be clear, Smart should have swung the ball to Jaylen Brown.

Still, there’s a second issue: Smart and Dennis Schröder leave the Celtics on the floor together. with three non-shooters, When the ball rolls around the perimeter and finds both Schroder and Smart, the offense struggles.

“Across the board I think we haven’t had the best shooting year, so regardless of who we’re working with out there, it’s not always going to be the best shooter on the floor,” Udoka said.

It’s true that the Celtics don’t have great shooting, but they had Grant Williams (43.9 percent) and Josh Richardson (39.1 percent) on the bench in crunch time. They may have to change some things of late.

5. Tatum, it should be noted, was excellent: 36 points, 12-for-21 shooting, nine assists and six rebounds. Whatever issues the Celtics ran into, their superstars were not one of them.

After the game, Tatum was introspecting about his career and appreciating the good moments.

“I think early on, maybe my rookie year, I thought it was normal,” he said. “Winning all those games, winning games in the playoffs, maybe taking it for granted a little bit. But to enjoy those moments, things like this happen and I think it makes you appreciate that kind of time even more.” Just knowing how hard it is to win in this league.”

6. Ivan Fournier abused his former team on both his visits to Madison Square Garden this season. On Thursday, he posted 41 points on 15-for-25 shooting – a dominant shooting performance that really paid off in the second half. Fournier destroyed the Celtics at pick-and-roll, most notably with Ans Freedom in the game. After Fournier left, the Celtics had a lot of trouble putting the toothpaste back in the tube.

7.

7. The Celtics aren’t the only team that has a problem: Julius Randall imitated former Mets infielder JV Baez and gave Knicks fans the thumbs down when he cheered for one of his baskets.

after the game, A reporter asked Randley What did he mean by thumbs down?

“Shut up f-up,” Randall replied quickly.

Why?

“You see,” said Randall. “You saw what was happening to him.”

Presumably, Randall was referring to the boos the Knicks got when they went down 20 in the first half. Randall signed a three-year, $62 million deal with the Knicks last off-season.

The Celtics face the Knicks again on Saturday.