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Celtics hope ‘clunker’ vs. Knicks is a one-off performance

It was a downright ugly display for the Celtics Sunday.

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

It wasn’t difficult to label Sunday’s 105-75 loss to the New York Knicks as the Boston Celtics worst defeat of the season.

The Celtics were an eye-sore offensively even with All-Star guard Kemba Walker returning to the lineup. Boston’s offensive output was the lowest it has ever been in the Brad Stevens era with the Celtics shooting a mere 29.8 percent from the floor.

That number looks great next to how Boston fared from beyond the arc. The C’s converted just 7 of their 46 (15.2 percent) 3-point attempts, such an abysmal showing that it landed them in the NBA record books, becoming just the fourth team in the league’s history to take 40-plus 3-pointers and shoot below 16 percent, per The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov.

The Celtics never led in the contest and turned the ball over 18 times. After putting up just 35 points through the first 24 minutes, the Celtics took a step back in the third quarter, mustering 15 points in the frame as the Knicks blew things open.

“They really whipped our ass from the first minute,” said Daniel Theis. “Throwing the ball all over the place. Too many turnovers. We couldn’t hit a shot. We can look at film, but just got to move on. We’re going to have nights like this, but hopefully it’s just one night or two in the whole season.”

Boston’s bench has played exceptional this season, but it couldn’t provide a spark with the C’s starters not getting the job done. Jeff Teague went scoreless while Semi Ojeleye and Payton Pritchard combined for just seven points.

What was even worse was Teague, Ojeleye, Grant Williams, Marcus Smart, Javonte Green and Aaron Nesmith combined to shoot 0-for-22 from deep.

The Celtics couldn’t turn to Jayson Tatum to get out of their offensive funk either as Tatum remained out to due to health and safety protocols.

Boston tried to have a positive mindset following the beatdown, as every team can expect to suffer a blowout loss here and there over the course of a long NBA season. Look no further than the Dallas Mavericks pulverizing the Los Angeles Clippers, 124-73, earlier this season.

But the key is to not have a repeated performance, or one even close to resembling what the Celtics showed on the court against the Knicks, crop up again. And the C’s will need to get back to form as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference quickly as they have a big test coming up with two games this week versus the Philadelphia 76ers beginning on Wednesday.

“I don’t believe that’s who this team is,” Stevens said. “I do believe that we have to play really hard to win. Our margin is not big. I think for the most part we’ve done that through the first 12 games. We had a clunker. You hope to have as few of those during an NBA season as possible, but inevitably you will have a couple. That doesn’t make it any easier in the moment. It doesn’t making it any easier when you’re going through it and watching it. We just looked like we were in mud.”

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