On the second night of a back-to-back, the word to sum up this New York Knicks performance would be unexpected. RJ Barrett was a late scratch as a migraine caused him to miss the game. Shorthanded, the Knicks went into TD Garden with great defense and pacing but couldn’t sustain it over the 48 minutes of play. The Celtics earned a 114–98 victory at home.
Studs: Jalen Brunson continues his excellent 2023 campaign
Jalen Brunson has been hooping this season for the New York Knicks. Averaging 22.6 points per game in the first 10 games of the season, Brunson’s consistency has been noteworthy as part of the engine fueling this team. Brunson started with a quick 11 points on 4/5 shooting to open the first quarter and finished with 26 on the night.
Studs: Julius Randle is returning to form
Julius Randle had himself a night as he got back into his elite form. Coming off an ankle injury last season, Randle has slowly but surely brought his game around to meeting expectations. Totaling 29 points, nine boards, and five assists, Randle’s only woe was the 7/19 shooting splits. A 38% night from the floor would have boxscore watchers displeased, but Randle is not yet in his final form.
A growing aspect of Randle’s game has been his passing and decision-making overall. The simultaneous occurrence of added talent and player development has brought an excellent balance to the versatility of the Knicks’ present game-to-game. Josh Hart and Quentin Grimes brought productive minutes in their extended time, combining for 28 points as well and Hart matched Randle with nine boards on the night.
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Duds: Difficulties keeping up in transition
In the half court, the Knicks played an excellent top-tier defense, as has become expected of them this season. Unfortunately, the Celtics game plan was to play into the strengths the Knicks possessed on the boards. Constantly getting ahead and leaking out in transition against a rebounding regime in the Knicks meant more open opportunities and mismatches. The Celtics took full advantage, and New York played right into their hands.
Duds: The Knicks had no answers for the Celtics’ stars
Jayson Tatum erupted for 35 points and seven assists with five made threes in the contest. Running mates Porzingis and Brown combined for 43 points, and the Knicks had no answer, looking sluggish in stretches on defense.
Duds: The lack of ball movement caused the offense to falter
The lack of ball movement compared to previous games was also apparent, and an iso-heavy offense is never the better answer, especially in today’s NBA. This leaves teams without the fortitude to uphold their expectations defensively, and a team’s motor, as well as confidence, dwindles when missing shots.
Duds: The Knicks couldn’t overcome the absence of RJ Barrett
The overexertion by the Knicks throughout the lineup goes to show how important RJ Barrett is to this team. The connector and two-way savant this season, Barrett’s close teammate Immanuel Quickley had his worst performance of the season thus far. Going 1/10 in 25 minutes, expect a bounce-back game when the Knicks play at Atlanta on Wednesday.