The Celtics came into this game with the chance to win 4 straight, which would be the longest streak of the season.
Offensively, the first quarter wasn't pretty. Whether it was fatigue from playing last night or just bad luck, neither team could find much of a rhythm. Both teams hovered around 30% shooting.
The Knicks are a good offensive rebounding team, and it kept them in the game early. They pulled down 5 offensive boards in the first quarter. Carmelo did most of his early scoring on second chance opportunities. Jae Crowder played solid defense against Carmelo early though. The Knicks like to post up, but Crowder is strong enough to hold his own on these plays.
The Celtics really opened up on the Knicks in the second quarter. The early minutes were a little worrying, as points were hard to come by. Evan Turner drew a little life from the crowd with his acrobatic finish at the 8:30 mark. He scored 8 in the quarter and jump started the Celtics' run. It was Isaiah Thomas that really kicked the offense into gear though. He scored 9 in the quarter and added two nice assists. Thomas isn't afraid to attack big men in the paint. He nailed some tough floaters over Lopez and Porzingis.
The Knicks were god awful shooting outside the paint in the first half. Jae Crowder in particular played great individual defense on Carmelo. Porzingis also had a tough time scoring. This, combined with the big run in the second quarter gave Boston a 10 point lead at half.
Jae Crowder pestered Anthony all first half, and he was at it again in the third. He drew two fouls and held Carmelo scoreless for the first five minutes of the period. Crowder even led the way offensively, scoring the first 8 points for Boston in the quarter.
Boston had some really pretty ball movement at times. The Turner to Olynyk to Sullinger passing sequence was awesome. Olynyk's drive and dish to Crowder was also nice.
As good as Crowder was playing, Anthony still found a way to score points in the quarter. After being shutout for a while, Carmelo responded by burying some Team USA style pull-up shots. He scored 8 points in the quarter, but really had to work for them.
The Celtics took a 12 point lead into the fourth. Boston struggled offensively, and the Knicks slowly crept back into the game. With the lead down to just five points, Stevens went small with Crowder at the power forward slot and Olynyk at center.
With four minutes left, Boston's defense held strong on three straight possessions, and the Knicks couldn't get any closer than 5 points. Isaiah Thomas is the focal point of the offense and he delivered when it mattered. He made a tough layup and followed by a fast-break score to bring the lead back up to 9. Boston would close it out from here, and came away with a nice win.
His third quarter was fantastic. He scored 13 points and absolutely hounded the Knicks on defense. His steal and one-man fast break score was one of the highlights of the quarter.
One other thing I liked was Crowder trying to slam on New York's bigs. He got called for a foul for kneeing Porzingis, but drew a foul on the other one. It's fun to watch a guy with that kind of confidence attacking the rim.
The bench contributed 44 points tonight, and they outscored New York's bench by 12 points. It's nice to get that kind of production from the second unit. Evan Turner was especially good with 19 points on just 11 shots. He even made a three, so you know his shot was falling tonight.
The return of Marcus Smart.
Smart hasn't played since November 20th, but looked pretty good in his limited minutes. He knocked down a pretty floater on his first shot attempt and hit a nice three later on. In 13 minutes he finished with 6 points and 3 rebounds. Not an incredible offensive performance, but he didn't seem hesitant or anything, so that's good to see.