It wasn’t the prettiest game near the end, but the Celtics got a much-needed win against a divisional rival. Led by ball movement and key defenses stretches, the Celtics were able to put the Knicks away 119-114. Isaiah Thomas lead the way with 27 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Marcus Smart chipped in with 15 points and 7 assists off the bench.
The bench gives the Celtics a present on Christmas (Keith P. Smith):
On Christmas day, weird things can happen. Games with 12:00 PM start times often feature strange events. This year, a Christmas day game at 12:00 PM featured one of the weirdest happenings of the season for Boston: the much-maligned bench helped carry the Celtics to victory! Brad Stevens used Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk for 28 and 23 minutes respectively, and both delivered. Olynyk scored 16 points on 7-9 shooting, while Smart had 15 points, including a huge three to snap a 112-112 tie. Even stranger and more impressive was Stevens unwrapping Gerald Green. Green, who hasn't played much at all in the last month, gave Boston eight points and four rebounds in just 11 minutes where he was +16 for the game.
Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas delivered some big plays, Jae Crowder was terrific with 16 big points, and Avery Bradley shut down Carmelo Anthony on the game's biggest defensive stand, but the bench showing up was a pleasant surprise. It was kind of like asking for that big present that you knew you parents probably wouldn't get you, but then it showed up under the tree Christmas morning and you were on cloud nine for days.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays to all!
Marcus Smart continues to be a positive impact (Alex Kungu)
With the Celtics deciding to sit Rozier the past three games, Smart has been officially given the duty has the teams secondary ball-handler and at times main ball-handler when they want to play IT off-ball. Tonight Smart made that decision look great as he poured in 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists including the go-ahead bucket that put the Celtics up for good. It won’t always work this great but Smart was absolutely outstanding at all phases of the game. He posted up:
Made the right pass virtually every time he had the ball in his hands:
And when the game was on the line, he made the biggest play of the night.
The Smart experience isn’t always going to produce impressive stat lines like it did tonight, but his consistent energy has continually made a positive impact on a very good team. There just aren’t many guys in the league who can box out Kristapas Porzingis, stay in front of Derrick Rose, and run an offense.