The Celtics beat the Knicks tonight 90-86 tonight in which was essentially a grudge match from last Sundays Celtics 41 point beat down win.
The Celtics took control of the first half behind a 21 point run but saw their 17 point lead dwindle down towards the end of the 2nd quarter and were left with a 54-48 lead at the half.
The Celtics came out of the half with their usual lackluster 3rd quarter and were outscored 25-14 in the third, including letting the Knicks go on a 16-7 run. The Celtics cannot keep having these miserable third quarters and expect to win games.
The score at the start of the fourth quarter was 73-62 Knicks. Then the Celtics really turned it on. The Celtics went on an 18-5 run that took them to the 2:30 mark and gave them an 86-84 lead. The starters then closed the game.
Jeff Green hit the clinching basket on what could be called the play of the game. Green drove the lane, hit the basket, and drew a foul from J.R. Smith which left the Celtics with a four point lead and essentially ended any chances the Knicks had at winning this game.
Although Jeff Green only went 3-7 for 8 points in the game, he played tough defense on Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter and held him to 1-8 shooting. Once Carmelo was shut down, the Knicks struggled to find someone to score down the stretch.
Jared Sullinger was the Celtics leading scorer with 19 points and added 6 rebounds. Against a weaker front court, Sullinger can be lethal. Stoudemire and Bargnani are not a defensive front court and Sullinger exposed that. He shot 6-9 from the field and 7-7 from the charity strike.
The unsung hero of the Celtics this year is Avery Bradley. Night in and night out he plays tough defense and is a consistent scorer. Tonight he scored 13 points and added 6 rebounds. But the box score doesn’t truly tell the tale of Bradley’s play. He is in on every loose ball and does all the little things right, which is one of the reasons the Celtics have been as successful as they have been this year.
The Celtics held the Knicks to 5-21 (23%) behind the arc, which is the Knicks most dangerous weapon on the offensive side of the ball. If you can take away the three ball from the Knicks you will have a good chance at beating them.
The Celtics turned the ball over 15 times opposed to the Knicks 6 turnovers. Although they escaped the game with a win, against the elite teams in the league a 9 turnover differential could cost you a game. The Celtics need to find someone who can be a true point guard for this team until Rondo returns.
The real story for the Celtics this game was their bench. After the bench only scored 4 points against the Clippers Wednesday night, they came out tonight and dropped 38 points on the Knicks. Eighteen of those points that came from Courtney Lee. Lee shot 3-3 from behind the arc and 6-8 overall. He hit a tough shot at the end of the first quarter that sparked the Celtics 21 point run. Vitor Faverini added 7 points including two crucial points in the final minute.
Olynyk returned tonight from his sprained ankle and added 4 points and 4 rebounds.
In the Celtics next game they take on Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the TD Bank North Garden on Monday night.