Jalen Brunson put on yet another masterclass as the Knicks went into Boston and destroyed the Celtics in their fake Garden.

The New York Knicks (48-32) shellacked the Boston Celtics (62-17) by a final score of 118-109, handily beating them through the first three quarters of the game and winning a huge game with major implications for seeding ahead of the postseason. 

The Celtics decided not to rest their starters in their final regular season contest against the Knicks, both a sign of respect from the runaway one-seed and a good challenge for New York to face as they would finally have a healthy OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson to toss at their team. 

The first opened with a quick score by Boston thanks to a great pass from Kristaps Porzingis. A turnover after that almost seemed like it was going to lead to a quick 4-0 lead for the Celtics, but the Knicks settled back in and responded with a three. It was fairly back and forth from that opening sequence of events between the two clubs scoring-wise.

While Boston was hitting their threes at a good clip, New York was doing a great job of attacking the paint. It finally, at least for the first few minutes of the first, felt like an evenly matched contest between the two teams. Anunoby was making his presence felt during multiple possessions halfway through the period, getting steals and making timely switches defensively that were leading to extra points here and there for New York.

By the end of the frame, things slowed down for both teams in terms of scoring as their respective benches trickled onto the court, but the Knicks were still getting boards and making the Celtics pay for not securing second-chance scoring opportunities. Through the first 12 minutes, New York was up by three, with many thanks for that lead given to Josh Hart, Anunoby, Brunson, and DiVincenzo. 

In the first moments of the second quarter, Al Horford managed to hit a three and tie things up immediately. Hart then responded with a three of his own, a welcome sight as he has been shy to shoot this season with the Knicks when open. Bojan Bogdanovic also continued his hot streak, hitting a three in transition early in the period. Mitchell Robinson also seemed more active on the glass than he had been in their Chicago Bulls game, tipping in a missed basket at one point in the quarter and just remaining involved in the post in general.

The pace of the contest increased significantly around the nine-minute mark, as both the Knicks and Celtics were looking for easy baskets in transition and doing so successfully. Jayson Tatum did start to heat up, but Brunson was back on the floor and was responding to his punches with swings of his own. Things were frenetic thanks to both teams’ affinity for rebounding, but the Knicks were just slightly quicker to the cup later in the quarter. Bogdanovic was especially a spark for them off the bench in the second, helping to get the team up by 16 by the three-minute mark of the quarter. The end of the half was accentuated by a block on a Jaylen Brown three from Precious Achiuwa and a few threes from Brunson and Anunoby, and they were up by 21 through two. 

In the third, Boston was looking to make a big comeback after being put in a 21-point hole. They managed to get a quick three from Porzingis and were playing some much tighter defense around the perimeter, but New York was still getting scoring opportunities thanks to their good off-ball movement. Brunson started off especially hot, hitting two threes to just keep pouring on the already humongous lead. Things started getting murky for the Celtics, and they were struggling to keep Brunson in check. They remained up by 22 with about three minutes to go in the period, backed by their extremely precise and intense defensive effort and continued blows from Brunson. Boston finally started to pull their starters when the lead was 30 with about 45 seconds to go in the third, and this contest was all but over before the final quarter was even played. New York entered the fourth up 29, and they were cruising to a potentially huge victory with major postseason seeding implications. 

The Knicks ran out a mostly bench unit, but still had Hartenstein and DiVincenzo on the floor, to open the last quarter in regulation. They were still feasting against the Celtics’ defense and their bench. The threes were finally falling regularly for Boston early in the fourth, but the lead was insurmountable. While it was disappointing that Brunson would be unable to get to 40 points in this game, the Knicks still had a game to close out – and the Celtics were trying to make it an interesting finish by hitting what felt like all of their threes to close out the game. Things finally settled in with about a minute to go in the game, as the blowout – or near blowout, at least – came to a close. 

Brunson finished up with 39 points along with four assists and two rebounds. Hart had 16 points, 16 boards, five assists, and one steal. DiVincenzo had 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, and one steal, while Hartenstein finished with 13 boards, 11 points, six assists, two blocks, and one steal. Anunoby had 12 points, five boards, one assist, one steal, and one block. 

Bogdanovic was the team’s leading bench scorer, picking up 14 points, three rebounds, and one steal. Robinson had five points, four rebounds, and one steal, while Deuce McBride had just two points but four boards as well as a steal. Achiuwa had two points, five rebounds, and one block. 

New York will play against the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow night at 7:30 pm as they keep looking to gain ground on the 2nd or 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. 

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