Boston came into this game having lost 5 out of their last 6. During this stretch, their normally stout defense has regressed to league average, while their offensive efficiency has cratered to the bottom of the league. The Knicks meanwhile have been humming on offense.
Boston's first quarter defense left a lot to be desired. Carmelo Anthony and Porzingis alone outscored them. Kristaps Porzingis was absolutely dominant. He was drilling Steph Curry range threes and finished the quarter with 16 points.
Boston actually shot really well, but just could not stop New York's pair of stars.
The second quarter saw both teams cool down on offense. The only issue there is that Boston couldn't make up any distance on the lead. Derrick Williams hurt Boston with his drives to the rim. Avery Bradley had a great block on him at one point, but Williams still tacked in 8 points in the quarter.
Boston's struggles from deep continued in the first half. They only shot 31% in the first half, and trailed by 10. Since Christmas, Boston has the worst second half offensive rating in the league, so they needed that to change quickly.
After a rough first half, Kelly Olynyk was benched and Marcus Smart defended Porzingis to start the half. Smart did a nice job denying the ball and boxing out. Amir Johnson was quick to help when needed, and the Celtics started chipping away at the lead. After scoring just 2 points with Smart guarding him, Porzingis got into foul trouble and left the game.
Boston caught a break because Carmelo Anthony left the game with an ankle injury. This gave them a great opportunity to come back. The offense did its part, but the defense struggled getting stops. The refs were really quick on the whistle too, which did Boston no favors.
Isaiah Thomas had a massive quarter. He scored 16 points to pull the Celtics back within striking range. The lead was just 4 points to start the final quarter.
With Isaiah sitting to start the fourth, Boston needed to find offense from other guys. Jared Sullinger was having a quiet game, but he stepped up. He scored 12 points in a variety of ways. His mid range shots and crazy layups pulled the Celtics even with the Knicks.
It was a one-point game with just three minutes left. Then Porzingis fouled out trying to contest a Jae Crowder three. This looked like a possible turning point, but the Knicks didn't fold. Both teams traded tough shots in the final minutes. Aaron Affalo hit a particularly tough fade away over Bradley. The Knicks leaned on him with Carmelo hurt and Porzingis in foul trouble. A questionable foul called on Amir Johnson gave the Knicks a three-point lead with 30 seconds remaining. Isaiah couldn't finish a tough layup on the other end, and that was it for Boston's chances in this one.