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The Read & React: Celtics hit wall in New York

Even with Kristaps Porzingis going 0-for-11 at MSG, the Celtics couldn’t overcome Michael Beasley’s MVP performance.

NBA: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Smith: There is nothing positive to take from this one. Not even if you squint really, really hard. Everything was bad. The defense has completely fallen apart. The rebounding is back to being a severe weakness. And the offense is wildly inconsistent.

Some of those things can be blamed on injuries and the tightly compressed schedule. But no one in the Boston locker room will use those excuses. At least not publicly. Games against the Bulls, the injury-ravaged Heat and the Knicks are games the Celtics should win.

The 16 game win streak probably raised expectations too high. But this team is better than what they've put forth for most of December. They are now mere percentage points ahead of Toronto for first place in the Eastern Conference. Despite the great start, they haven't shaken the consistent Raptors. And Cleveland is lurking just behind as well. If the Celtics can't turn it around, and quick, they're looking at third place by the new year. That is something no one could have imagined, even as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

NBA: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Simon Pollock: Grit and determination brought this Boston Celtics team a win against the Golden State Warriors a month ago. Lack of both since the win streak ended have left the celtics 4-5 in their last nine games. They're 0-2 against opposing second unit bigs who are good scorers, but have no business torching a team that held the league's best defensive rating for the first quarter of the 2017-2018 season.

Take a double shot of your favorite excuse after this loss against a virtually Porzingis-less New York Knicks team, in which Michael Beasley posted a ridiculously efficient 32 points in 25 minutes, on 65% shooting. Let the burn serve as a reminder that Marcus Morris does more for this than his season average counting stats suggest.

Make sure your toast to a revival of grit. Envision Kyrie Irving fighting over the top of screens again, Horford taking pocket passes to the rim for dunks, and Morris coming off the bench as a reliable scoring option (and staying in for quality minutes in crunch time).

And don't think for a minute that the consequences of nights like this are lost on this team. With high IQ leaders like Smart and Horford in the locker room, this rocky stretch will be treated as learning opportunities.

Let's hope that we can refill our glasses with some holiday cheer by Monday, and rejoice as Boston's effort returns.

Bobby Manning: I mean, was tonight a fluke, or a culmination of what we’ve watched for 10 straight games?

I know Brad can’t lose his cool, but at some point Irving/Horford/Smart have to fire everybody up. They have not been very good since the 16 game streak ended. There’s no excuse for letting Beasley get 28 in 15. He looked like Durant.