Post-game Reactions

The Boston Celtics just beat the New York Knicks. Let me start again: The Boston Celtics, whose starters have a combined zero All-Star appearances and whose entire roster is a mish-mash of random talents and unlikely contributors, obliterated the New York Knicks, who employ the third best small forward in the world and last year played in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, by 41 points.

Before the season, there were justifiably very few reasons to have confidence in this team. But before the season, we hadn’t seen how well everyone would work together under Brad Stevens. Jordan Crawford wasn’t playing the best basketball of his career and blossoming into a legitimate starting point guard. Avery Bradley wasn’t stepping into jumpers with confidence. Brandon Bass wasn’t making smart rotations defensively. Jared Sullinger wasn’t putting up efficient 20-point outings offensively on a frequent basis.

Now? All of that is happening, and the “Could the Celtics make the playoffs?” crowd is looking smarter and smarter.

Nothing is decided. Danny Ainge could move several players to contenders and get this team back into the cellar. The Celtics could hit a much rougher patch of their schedule and lose several consecutive games — it hasn’t exactly been murderer’s row, although the Denver win was certainly nice.

But right now, we are getting a glimpse into how good Brad Stevens is at coaching basketball. We are seeing several players playing to the absolute pinnacle of their potential. If you can’t sit back and enjoy that, whether you are pro- or anti-tanking, you are missing out. It’s a beautiful thing.

Today’s grades. Spoiler alert: Nobody failed.


Boston Celtics 114 Final
Recap | Box Score
73 New York Knicks
Brandon Bass, PF 32 MIN | 4-8 FG | 8-9 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +31
Big, strong and bruising, Bass once again took Carmelo Anthony out of his comfort zone early, and banged around inside with Metta World Peace late. 16 efficient points is starting to feel commonplace for him.

Jared Sullinger, PF 27 MIN | 9-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +43
If Crawford was the 1A MVP of the game (he was), Sully was MVP 1B. Not a ton of boards, but Sullinger used his body in the post to score 21 extremely efficient points. When the Knicks began adjusting to his bully-ball, Sully took his game to the perimeter and was 2-for-3 from 3-point range. All around, it was exactly the kind of game we like to see from him.

Avery Bradley, PG 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +40
Corner 3-pointers? Check. Defensively tough and annoying at the same time? Check. Providing rebounds as a perimeter player? Check check check. Bradley’s shooting was a little off (4-for-11), but everything else more than made up for it.

Jeff Green, SG 25 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +42
Green did exactly what he needed to do: 16 points on nine shots and six rebounds in 25 minutes is excellent. He was also the victim of a couple of questionable no-calls and one awful charge in the first half, but picking nits with the officiating in a 40+ point win is just silly.

Jordan Crawford, SG 31 MIN | 8-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | +38
All hail Steez, the king of New York. Crawford shot the lights out, got his teammates involved, didn’t turn the ball over at all and even made some nice defensive plays.

Kris Humphries, PF 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +5
Dear Kris: I humbly apologize for everything I may have said about you regarding your relationship with K** K******** and I thank you for your professional approach to every game and the positive impact you have on both sides of the ball. I also commend you for being ready to play every night, and I am grateful for the impact this kind of attitude has on younger, more impressionable players.

Gerald Wallace, SF 21 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTS | +5
Why Gerald Wallace refuses to shoot ever is beyond me, but he played well this afternoon.

Vitor Faverani, C 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -5
Fav didn’t do much, but I’m in a good mood.

Phil Pressey, PG 17 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 1 PTS | +3
Out of control at times, inaccurate shooting at other times, but Pressey still did some nice things on the floor, including a couple of excellent dimes. Still, given the other performances, someone has to get hurt on the grading curve.

MarShon Brooks, SG 6 MIN | 2-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +2
Brooks gets a solid bump for his late crossover which sent a defender flying, another bump for knocking down the shot after the move, and a final bump for hitting the 3-pointer which pushed this game over 40. He didn’t do much to contribute to the win, but he made the final five minutes fun, which was definitely worthwhile for those of us still tuned in.

Courtney Lee, SG 20 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +1
Courtney Lee: Still knocking down shots, still playing excellent perimeter defense, still playing well overall, still probably not a part of this team long-term. But he looks so much better this year.

Brad Stevens

You are a wizard, sir. A genuine wizard.

Five Things We Saw

  1. This stat was passed around Twitter by several people after the game: Boston’s starters outscored New York’s 86-26, and no, I did not type that wrong. Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton, two players who KILLED Boston last year in the playoffs, were a combined -78 in plus/minus.
  2. More fun with plus/minus: Boston’s starting lineup was a combined +192 for the game, with no starter finishing lower than 31 (Brandon Bass).
  3. Avery Bradley continues to knock down virtually impossible shots. In today’s episode, he knocked down a 15-footer plus the foul, shooting with T-Rex arms as multiple Knicks tried to prevent him from getting the shot off.
  4. The Celtics obliterated New York 42-22 in points in the paint, which makes a lot of sense considering New York’s style of offense. The Knicks place an enormous amount of emphasis on 3-pointers, and Boston has been defending the 3-point line extremely well. Before today’s game, opponents were shooting just 32 percent from behind the arc, which put the Celtics second in the NBA. New York shot 6-for-16 Sunday.
  5. A quick caution: Tempered enthusiasm is appropriate here. The Celtics looked incredible, but as the Knicks showed over their past two games (blowouts over Brooklyn and Orlando), looking incredible against bad teams isn’t that hard to do. That being said, the Celtics — as currently constructed and with Brad Stevens at the helm — are shockingly good. We’ll see if it continues, but it’s been unpredictably fun so far this season.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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  • CelticsBIG3

    Brad Stevens is going to be the draw for a big time free agent. Don't think everyone in the league isn't seeing what Stevens is doing with a group that Doc Rivers probably would have been lucky to win a single game with 25% of the way thru the year.

    • hax

      Danny Ainge looks like a genius so far. I hope he doesn't get tank-itis and trade off our championship contendingCeltics this year. 🙁

    • janos

      hi big 3

  • janos

    i did today watch this game on tv and coul not believe i was seeing this happen was very good happy game us,

  • skeeds

    Most telling stat of the night:
    All 5 Celtics starters scored over 12 points.
    All of them had also recorded at least 6 pts and 1 assist by the end of the first quarter.

    Brad Stevens, you magnificent bastard, forget about the lottery, take us to the playoffs! Yes, goal 1 will always be a ring. But goal 1A is having a team we fans are proud of and support wholeheartedly… And somehow, this team, with no significant talent, no veteran green leadership, with a rookie coach, is playing Celtics ball. We blew out the Knicks by 40 points… Today was a good day…

    • High Rollers

      Yes it was, skeeds. Yes it was.

  • j0jo27o

    Crawfish is BIG.

  • Emg

    Pierce and KG just lost by 30 to Knicks; grieve for them.

    • CelticsBIG3

      I just read an article on the Boston Globe that said people with knowledge of the situation feel like Pierce has lost his fire to play and be engaged. What a potentially lousy ending to two great careers.

      • High Rollers

        They won't go down without a bar fight. The team they're on might, but they won't.

        They're professionals. Obviously a part of passion is where the heart is. Most times the heart is where things are most positive and connected, in a locker room that responds.

        It will always be too bad that they were shown the door from the place of their biggest passion. That's all.

  • Batufab

    Very nice guys, you made my Sunday. God bless u and go ahead.

  • Johnnyeff

    Anyone ever think about boxing together several of our high future draft picks for one high one this year, get a stud, add a healthy Rondo and don't we look pretty damned good !

  • Jim

    I am excited about the way this team plays. These guys are having fun and they pull for each other. This game has made me smile all day. Danny Ainge thank you for bringing us our new coach. I am a happy fan right now! Celtic Pride is alive and well!

  • Ira Barrows

    Quick observation/query: Olynyk and Rondo make this team better, right? What does Danny do? Also, if defense was already decent and scoring was the problem, what do these two games indicate?

  • Joe

    I just want to restate what I have been saying all summer on here… the jordan crawford show must go on!!!!

    Read what he said though.. he did not say he was better, but this is the mindset you need to be successful.
    I also like Coach Stevens.. every year at Butler he was able to make deep into march madness, if not the final four. Even after losing his star in Gordon Hayward he was still able to maintain success. Great coaching choice. Too bad we cant trade all our draft picks for a top 3 pick and get Julius Randle or Parker. That would make this the perfect season haha

  • Renzo

    That's a huge win.
    I always believed this team was not that bad at all, but i also believe it's not that good.
    The fact is that all East, despite Miami and Indiana, seriously sucks.

    • The Cardinal

      You only have to outplay the other teams in your Division and Conference to end up with a decent seed in the East, so relative to the immediate competition? Yeah, this team is pretty good and on an upward trajectory to get better by season's end. So much better that we probably will be as good as any of the 5 – 8 seeds in the West.

      Coach Brad is managing minutes, managing egos, not focused on past reputation, and inspiring every player to take to heart "there is no I in team." The players are confident, enjoying themselves (which is frickin' huge), playing their hearts out, and determined to show the "experts" and gloom-'n-doom "fans" that they don't know squat about what it takes to be a competitive NBA team. Developing a winning culture under a rookie coach who inspires his team like Coach Brad has is the very best advertisement for top tier free agents to consider Boston as a future destination.

      As I've often said: This is why they play the games rather than rely on preseason projections and power ratings to determine who make the playoffs.

  • hax

    Annoying how ESPN's Sportscenter totally blows off the Celtics.
    They dissed the East, before showing the clip. Then the story was how the Knicks are 'bad' and nothing about the Celtics other than 'they lost to the CELTICS?! Larry Bird ain't walkin' through that door."

    Actually the Knicks just blew out two other teams, and the reason they were bad was because of how great our defense was. The media doesn't want the Celtics to be a story because they have no 'star power.' Keep disrespecting us, you'll get burned.