Even hours after the game was over, the final scoreline and the meaning of it were quite difficult to acknowledge. The Boston Celtics, a decent team with a new head coach and pretty bad roster, beat the New York Knicks, a team with a superstar and not much else, 114-73, at the Madison Square Garden. It still doesn’t sound right.
It was a combination of the Celtics playing that wonderful passing game Brad Stevens has been pushing on them, hitting some lucky shots and this time pursuing the early lead they’ve built. They started the game on 25-3 run, finishing with a 34-11 lead in the first quarter. It just kept getting worse for the Knicks, who lost all passion to think and try on offense, while defense has never been a strong suit for this unit.
The Knicks are just the 4th team in NBA history to lose a game by at least 35 points after winning their previous contest by at least 35 points. It’s the first time this is happened since the Houston Rockets (who went 28-54 in 2001-2002). The 41-point win was the most one-sided affair this season in the NBA, tied for their 4th-largest road win in Celtics history and the third-largest home loss in Knicks history, not too far from the 50 point drubbing they got from the Mavs four years ago.
It’s a step backwards. I thought we had turned the corner somewhat. I can’t have our guys stepping on the floor doing what they did tonight.
Mike Woodson spoke ominously. Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton preferred to make it look like something that happens, and can be brushed off. But the Knicks, right after winning two consecutive games, fall back to the place they were in a week ago – a terrible team that can’t defend and doesn’t really look like it actually wants to, with Carmelo Anthony, their superstar and a player they don’t want to see walking away this summer, getting yet another reason to look at other offers when they do come.
The Celtics didn’t need much from their bench – all the damage was done early on by their starters. They were aggressive on defense, and kept looking for the extra pass on offense. Against a lazy defensive team like the Knicks, it usually means finding an open man eventually. They hit 14-25 from beyond the arc, including 6-12 from Jordan Crawford, finishing with a game high 23 points.
In the Eastern conference, the 10-12 Celtics suddenly look like one of the best teams. Few teams move the ball the way they do, making up for their lack of offensive talent or depth on the bench. If Rajon Rondo fits well with this bunch, suddenly the playoffs don’t seem like too much to ask for, and we’ll actually see if Danny Ainge and tanking belong together or was he actually saying the truth when this season began about the Celtics not being a franchise that loses on purpose in order to get a better chance of landing a potential superstar coming out of college.