It took two ridiculous overtimes for the New York Knicks to keep the Boston Celtics at bay, but they got the job done.
No one accomplishes all of their goals on opening night, but the New York Knicks are off to a great start. New York starts off the year with a 138-134 win over the Boston Celtics.
This one was a back-and-forth affair between evenly-matched teams. The Knicks had the game in hand in the final minutes. However, a defensive lapse left Marcus Smart wide open for a game-tying three at the buzzer. We needed five more minutes to decide this one.
Evan Fournier was the main culprit in allowing Smart the open look to tie the game. He made up for it with a flurry of threes in overtime. In fact, it seemed as if nobody missed in that first overtime.
Yes, first overtime.
The second extra frame was less about shotmaking and more about sloppy play. No one could make a shot, but in the end, the Knicks just made a few more shots than the Celtics.
Offensively, the Knicks beat the Celtics with a balanced attack. Julius Randle is still the alpha dog on the floor, but RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and even Obi Toppin made significant contributions.
Toppin was exceptional in transition. The former lottery pick finished with a career-high 14 points, all on two-pointers and free throws. Ironically enough, Toppin reversed roles with his teammate Immanuel Quickley. So often last season, Quickley was the spark off the bench, but on Wednesday it was Toppin.
On defense, Barrett locked up Jayson Tatum, holding the two-time All-Star to 20 points on 7-for-30 from the floor and 2-for-15 from three. Jaylen Brown picked up the slack with 46 points, but Barrett was exceptional on Tatum nonetheless.
So, the Knicks answered — or at least, began to answer — three important questions entering this season.
Can RJ Barrett defend star wings now that Reggie Bullock is gone? Check.
Will the Knicks play faster to try and get easier buckets? Check.
Will the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier bring balance to the offense? Check.
Even though opening night always feels bigger than it is, it’s one of 82. To truly answer these questions, the Knicks need to perform night in and night out.
Other Knicks Notes
- With Gibson (personal reasons) and Noel out (left knee), Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau opted to go with rookie Jericho Sims before transitioning to small-ball lineups with Randle and Toppin.
- Before the game, Thibs said that Gibson was out for “good personal reasons” and it turns out he had a child. Best wishes to Taj and his family.
- Quickley only played eight minutes, scoring two points. His fearlessness makes him great, but he took a few ill-advised shots.
- All five Knicks starters played 34 or more minutes — Walker
- Jaylen Brown’s 46 points were the most in history by a Celtic in a season opener.