Josh Hart believes fully healthy Knicks could’ve beaten the Celtics

Feb 24, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks never got to face the eventual champion Boston Celtics in the playoffs, as injuries caught up to them and ultimately led them to falling short in seven games to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Entering the postseason, they were already without Julius Randle, and by the time their season was over, Jalen Brunson, OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mitchell Robinson were all on the shelf with injuries.

Knicks forward Josh Hart, who played the final two games of the Pacers series with an abdominal strain, believes that a fully healthy Knicks team could’ve given the Celtics a tough time had they met in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“I feel like if we were healthy and we got to play Boston, that probably would have been the best series in the playoffs,” Hart said (h/t Sports Illustrated). “I feel like that goes six or seven [games]. That would be a competitive as hell six or seven games.”

The Knicks have found success against Boston in recent years despite this season’s struggles

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks had struggled against the Celtics throughout the regular season, as they went 1-4 in those games. However, only one of those games was after the trade that saw Anunoby come to New York, and was also the lone victory out of those contests. In past seasons where the Knicks were generally healthy, the Knicks had handled the Celtics well, going 3-1 against them in the 2022-23 season and having two dramatic victories over them at Madison Square Garden in the season prior.

The Celtics were a juggernaut this past season, and it is no surprise that they dominated all season long and throughout the playoffs after acquiring Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis in the offseason. Meshing them alongside superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown made Boston a force to be reckoned with. How a playoff series between two healthy teams would have played out will have to remain a mystery for now, but New York responded to Boston’s dominance in a big way.

The Knicks are loaded up to match up with the Celtics

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau high fives New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) with guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) and forward OG Anunoby (8) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In an attempt to match up well against the Celtics’ relentless offense, the Knicks made an early summer splash acquiring Mikal Bridges from the Brooklyn Nets. With that, the Knicks are now one of the deepest teams in the league, and are projected to be one of the best teams in the NBA heading into next season, with some having only the reigning champions ahead of them.

However, the Knicks won’t have an easy path to get to the Celtics, as the Philadelphia 76ers look to join in on the action after signing superstar forward Paul George in free agency to form a big three with him, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

Many know what the Knicks were capable of last season when they were healthy. However, one of the best abilities in sports is availability, and the hope is that next season brings better injury luck to a franchise that is looking to end a long title drought.

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