Five takeaways: Lots to like as C’s cruise past Knicks
Five takeaways: Lots to like from C’s in cruising over Knicks
BOSTON – The primary goal this time of year for the Celtics is to keep getting better, regardless of the outcome.
Boston (50-27) got the victory, knocking off the New York Knicks 110-94 on Sunday, but this game did little more than just pad Boston’s East-leading record. (That feels so weird to write, I gotta tell ya).
The Knicks played hard, but having no Derrick Rose (knee) or Carmelo Anthony (back) meant a huge drop-off in terms of the talent that the Celtics found themselves sort of competing against even with the game not being every competitive beyond the first 90 seconds or so.
So, it wasn’t all that a shocker that Boston led the entire game while pushing their lead to as many as 27 before all was said and done.
There were no light bulb-like moments where the Celtics did something amazing on the floor, or anything like that.
It was a win, one in which they jumped on the Knicks from the start and never fully let up until the game was out of reach and the victory was essentially secured.
Here are five other takeaways from Sunday’s game:
TEST BACKUP POWER
Boston’s starters took control from the outset which set the stage for them to get some rest and Boston’s bench to get some much-desired minutes. And to their credit, they all made the most of the opportunity. The Celtics had three players off the second unit reach double figures scoring and even more important, every Celtic starter played less than 28 minutes.
TAKING SMART SHOTS
Among those bench players who stood out was Marcus Smart. In addition to leading the second unit with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting, he also had five assists and a staggering plus minus of +23 which was tops on the team. When he’s shooting that well and defending at his usual elite level, Boston becomes a team that’s extremely tough to beat.
JAYLEN BROWN’S GROWTH
No one knew how Jaylen Brown would respond after coach Brad Stevens yanked him out of the starting lineup about a minute into Sunday’s game. It certainly caught him off-guard, but give him credit. He responded the best way possible: he played better and thus, got more minutes in part because of that.
I.T. GETTING TOO TECHNICAL
While no one would confuse Isaiah Thomas with his former Sacramento Kings teammate DeMarcus Cousins, the two aren’t that far apart when it comes to technical fouls. Cousins has already missed games after picking up too many technical fouls, and Thomas is trending in that direction. He picked up his 14th technical fouls against the Knicks which brings is out-of-pocket costs for technical fouls this season, to $41,000. If he picks up a 16th technical foul, that triggers an automatic one-game suspension. Fortunately for Thomas and the Celtics, the technical foul tally resets once the playoffs start.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE
One of the more stealth challenges this group is dealing with, is how to handle success. When they edged past Orlando last week, players were seemed upset at themselves before coach Brad Stevens lightened the mood by reminding them that they won the game. Following the Knicks victory, they struck that perfect balance between being pleased with the win, but acknowledging the need to keep getting better. It is like most of the things NBA players do; it’s a lot easier said than done.