The Boston Celtics bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers with a thrilling win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
The tandem of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum led the way for the C's with 32 and 25 points respectively. Brown also notched 10 rebounds, marking the first 30-point, 10-rebound regular-season game of his NBA career.
The turning point was a Marcus Smart go-ahead 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in the game. The clutch shot proved to be the difference as the Celtics went on to win, 101-99. Smart finished with 17 points in the victory.
Here are three observations from the C's win, which brings them back to .500 (26-26) on the season.
Tristan Thompson made an immediate impact
If only Tristan Thompson's return to the Celtics lineup came one day sooner.
We already covered Thompson's glaring absence in Tuesday night's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics certainly could have used his physicality against Joel Embiid, because Robert Williams simply couldn't figure out a way to limit the Sixers' star big man.
In Wednesday's victory, Thompson's presence was immediately felt. In his first game since March 14, Thompson contributed seven points, eight rebounds, and three blocks in 22 minutes. The Celtics were plus-24 with him on the court and minus-22 without him.
"It's been frustrating, it's been very frustrating watching my guys out there and not being able to contribute and help," Thompson told NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg after the game. "I think we definitely needed a little spark and juice, so I wanted to be able to bring that tonight, especially the second game of a back-to-back with no Kemba [Walker] playing. So I wanted to just bring that energy and just protect our yard."
Dominant offensive rebounding made the difference
The Celtics bullied the Knicks on the offensive glass in this one. In the first half, they brought down a whopping 13 offensive rebounds. To put that into perspective, their season-high for offensive rebounds in a game is 17.
They fell short of a new season-high as they finished with 16 offensive boards, but that first-half performance on the glass was a major difference-maker as they tallied 20 second-chance points. The Knicks finished with only five offensive rebounds, and that would come back to bite them as they'd lose by two points.
Boston can thank Williams and Romeo Langford for their efforts on the glass. They finished with five and four offensive rebounds respectively, all coming in the first half. Thompson did his job as well with three offensive boards.
Marcus Smart made a statement in the fourth quarter
Like it or not, Smart does not care that you yell at your television whenever he shoots the ball in crunch-time situations.
That attitude paid off for the C's in Wednesday night's victory. Smart finished with 17 points and 14 of those came in the fourth quarter. His most important three points came with 36 seconds remaining in the game, when he drilled one beyond the arc that gave Boston a 96-93 lead.
Smart also made life easier for Tatum and Brown with nine assists on the night.
It hasn't been a great season for Smart when it comes to the fourth quarter, but Wednesday was an exception. He was outstanding, and he showed he has no plans to give up those shots any time soon.