Hall-of-Famer likes the Knicks to dethrone the Celtics next season

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) react to a play against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Delta Center

NBA great Kevin Garnett is buying the New York Knicks as a stronger projected team than the 2024 NBA champion Boston Celtics for next season. 

Kevin Garnett believes the Knicks could compete for the Finals next season

Apr 28, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett (5) and New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) work for the rebound during overtime in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 97-90. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics have not had more than a week to bask in their Larry O’Brien Trophy without Garnett propping up their Eastern Conference foes over them on the most recent episode of his “Ticket & The Truth” podcast. He had this to say about Jalen Brunson and company’s chances to take the Celtics in a potential 2025 playoff series (h/t Geoff Magliocchetti of Fan Nation’s All Knicks):

“To me, the Knicks are built to challenge this Celtics team,” Garnett told fellow Celtics legend Paul Pierce. “You got a f*****g point guard who’s a closer. He’s activated … if you’re a small forward he can score on you.”

“Then you got an animal that’s been in the cage (in Julius) Randle. I’m putting my money on Randle this year. (Mitchell) Robinson is one of the old heads who wants to do his job: I want to rebound and offensive rebound. Throw me a lob every now and then. I’m the new Tyson Chandler.”

Knicks: Celtics’ two lead stars will be hard to contain in 2024-25

Feb 24, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives to the basket against New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) and center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) and guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics’ two-headed monster of reigning Finals MVP Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will be the biggest weapons for the Knicks to contain next year. Tatum led the charge for Boston in the regular season with 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and a career-high 4.9 assists per night on his way to his third All-NBA First Team nod while Brown got his chance to take the reigns in the Finals, making his presence felt on both ends, which gave him the Finals MVP edge.

Boston’s additions of standout defender Jrue Holiday and former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis allowed them to space the floor while getting much bigger as a five-man starting lineup.

The Knicks’ offseason moves could either gel or disband their trailblazing unit from 2023-24

The Knicks went 1-4 against the Celtics in their season series in the previous campaign. Boston had their number and could have it again next year. The Knicks are in danger of losing Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa in free agency and are reportedly open to trading away Mitchell Robinson. If all three depart this summer, they’ll have many pieces to pick up in order to deal with the Celtics’ frontcourt of Porzingis, Al Horford, and Tatum. Particularly, Robinson’s league-leading 4.6 offensive rebounds per game and top-shelf rim protection were missed in the 51 games he sat last season.

The Knicks added potent shooting and speed to their gritty attack on both ends. They were listed as a prime franchise to add a difference-making All-Star in the open market this offseason. They set off the fireworks when they traded for star forward Mikal Bridges on Tuesday night. Bridges will be put next to Brunson, who did make his mark late in games and tore through the playoffs as their leading scorer through his first seven games played. How those two play together will dictate how ready the Knicks will be to give the reigning champs problems in 2024-25. As presently constructed, they’ll need all their players healthy to make things interesting with the top dogs out East.

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