New York Knicks Boston Celtics
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The New York Knicks hung around against the Boston Celtics and the young core is gaining valuable experience.

Despite the loss, this was another step in the right direction for the New York Knicks. The young guys got to play good minutes against one of the better teams in the league and they hung tough for most of the game. Trey Burke went off for the second straight game. He scored 26 points on 10-for-16 from the floor while dishing out eight assists. He looks really comfortable off the bench and has provided a much-needed scoring spark.

The defense definitely needs to see some improvement, but there was a certain point where Kyrie Irving couldn’t be stopped. He had a game-high 31 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists. 15 of his 31 points came in a scorching hot third quarter for Irving.

The Boston Celtics are a better team than the Knicks right now. That’s not groundbreaking analysis and there are no moral victories, but this may have been the best case scenario for the Knicks. The young guys get to play more minutes in a competitive game, the front office can see who might be worth keeping around, and they lose to try and sneak into a better lottery position.

Jarrett Jack didn’t play in the second-straight game as Emmanuel Mudiay started his second straight game. Mudiay shows flashes on offense, but his poor shooting, tendency to make silly decisions, and his shoddy defense can hold him back. Overall, he can be a lot better than he played tonight. Watching Mudiay try to develop some consistency will be one of the most intriguing storylines down the stretch.

Clearly, the Mudiay-Ntilikina-Burke rotation is going to be the status quo moving forward. There’s a good chance that this rotation gets shuffled around here and there. Burke and Frank Ntilikina may get a chance to start at some point, but regardless, these three will be seeing consistent minutes going forward.

For the second straight game, a lineup including Burke, Ntilikina, Lance Thomas, and Kyle O’Quinn looked cohesive. Whether this lineup was filled out by Damyean Dotson or Troy Williams didn’t seem to matter much. The offensive chemistry between Burke and O’Quinn combined with the defensive prowess of Ntilikina and Thomas makes for a successful lineup.

The aforementioned Williams reminded us all why he was seen as a low-risk move. He had a few highlight reel dunks tonight that showcased his reputation as an athletic wing. He had 14 points in 12 minutes on 6-for-9 shooting.

Michael Beasley had his best game of the season against Boston earlier this season, but this game was a much different story. Beasley was 5-for-14 from the floor and his defense wasn’t doing the Knicks any favors tonight.

All things considered, this wasn’t a terrible game for the Knicks. Unfortunately, wins and losses don’t mean much past lottery positioning at this point. The young guys are getting to gain some valuable experience and there showing momentary flashes of brilliance. And finally, the Knicks were enjoyable to watch tonight. They had some high-flying plays, they were pushing the ball, the pick and roll was fun to watch on offense (especially with Burke running it).

It may be a very small step forward, but it’s forward nonetheless.

 

 

 

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