As spectacular as Isaiah Thomas has been this season, Boston’s Wednesday night home loss to the Knicks served as a stern reminder that his heroics alone won’t be enough to propel this Celtics team to success down the stretch.
The situation on the glass was a particular sore spot for the C’s. Before the game ,Celtics head coach Brad Stevens explained that rebounding woes have been “haunting” his team, and that was on full display in the club’s losing effort against the Knicks. New York out-rebounded Boston 55-32, including 18 offensive boards. This constitutes the worst differential for Boston since Nov. 2014. Even with Isaiah scoring 39 points, it will be quite difficult for the Celtics to win games with those kind of numbers.
Bench play was also a major factor in Wednesday’s game. The Knicks reserves turned in 55 points, including 17 from rookie Willy Hernangomez. In fact, all five of New York’s starters registered a negative +/-, while each bench player went +9 or better. The Celtics, meanwhile, got little production from the bench. Fellow rookie Jaylen Brown turned in 12 points, but Terry Rozier and Jonas Jerebko each posted -22 and -21 on the night respectively.
On the defensive end, the Knicks shot a smooth 50.5 % from the field, and even without rising star Kristaps Porzingis, New York consistently scored with ease. Boston will have to wait until a Saturday afternoon tilt against the Trail Blazers to right the ship.
Avery Bradley was once again sidelined with injury, and that was another issue for Boston. Not only does he give the Celtics an edge on defense and a dependable scoring threat, but his 6.9 rebounds per game are also quite valuable to this club. With Al Horford posting a 2 of 14 overall, Bradley’s absence was especially notable. Even with a few nights off, the C’s could be still be without Avery Bradley. Following the game, Stevens told reporters that Bradley experienced soreness today and could miss an additional few games.
It’s worth praising Isaiah Thomas, who once again proved he is well-deserving of an All Star bid. He was the only reliable offensive spark for the C’s, and his teammates went a combined 23 of 66 on the night. Unfortunately Knick’s point guard Derrick Rose was just as lethal tonight, scoring 30 points along with 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
Isaiah did, however, give the home crowd a little bit to smile about with this impressive play, probably the lone bright spot on the evening. Until next time, stick with Celticshub for all things C’s.
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) January 19, 2017
Please follow me on Twitter @CTabatabaie