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Links: The Celtics really want to beat the Knicks

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Celtics want to wash the memory of pre-Thanksgiving out of their heads.

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NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

As a fan, I was really hoping to go into Thanksgiving break with an easy get-right win over the New York Knicks. Then the Celtics ended up playing like turkeys. The team remembers that as well. So tonight, there’s a little extra motivation.

via Steve Bulpett

“I think that our identity is definitely forming a lot better than when we were playing against the Knicks that day, just in terms of our energy, our focus, our lineup, as well,” said Kyrie Irving. “And it’s just going out there and competing — and having fun doing so. It’s definitely a game that I definitely remember, so as a competitor, definitely I can’t wait to play.”

Who knows how long the current starting lineup will be in place. But for now, it creates a pretty stacked bench unit.

via Chris Forsberg

Call it the BWM: Bench With Motivation.

While the trio of Brown, Hayward, and Rozier has said all the right things about coming off the bench, it’s clear they’ve all got a little something extra to prove. Brown was the Celtics’ leading postseason scorer in last season’s run to the fringe of the NBA Finals; Rozier made himself a household name while starting in place of Kyrie Irving in those playoffs; and Hayward is trying to assert himself as the All-Star we saw in Utah while working his way back from last season’s ankle fracture.

The Celtics are getting into the paint more often and it is helping. One key driver (pun intended) is Gordon Hayward.

via Jared Weiss

Working with the bigs to crash the paint, Hayward has gone from getting a feel for the passing lanes to controlling them. Stevens is trying to initiate actions closer to the hoop so Hayward’s explosiveness is less of a determining factor for him to get deep into the paint, generating that gravity that forces defenses to sink in from the weak side.