The season has barely started and the Knicks-Celtics game is already an instant classic. A back and forth contest that featured tough defense, thriving offenses, heat check three’s, and 97 shots of Spike Lee looking confused.
Everybody already knew the Knicks were going to be good this year, but we didn’t know they were going to be this good. Its only been one game, but how could you not be impressed after the Knicks triumphed in double-OT? They proved they are a tough team, and proved that they can shut down stars like Jayson Tatum (don’t look up Jaylen Brown’s stat-line for the sake of my point.)
Going into the final minute the Knicks looked like they had won the game, but turnovers, a highly contested deep three that was made, and poor defense made this game go into OT. In OT the Knicks looked tired, but the Celtics looked dead. I thought Tatum was going to pass out, the only Celtic that wasn’t tired was Marcus Smart, that’s mainly because he’s a freak of nature that sucks for 38 minutes a game but makes every clutch shot possible.
Julius Randle’s legs were gone going in double-OT, but he kept fighting. He made tough shot after tough shot until he couldn’t anymore.
That’s when Evan Fournier took over and carried the Knicks to a win. Fournier the new addition to an already deep roster, looked good until the final seconds of regulation when he stupidly doubled Tatum instead of guarding an open Marcus Smart, leading to Smart nailing a three at the buzzer to send the game into OT. Fournier however, made up for his defensive miscue and made three after three. He not only kept the fans in the game he kept his team in the game. This team is so deep that when one player can’t do the heavy lifting another player steps up. Randle couldn’t keep posting up on Smart so he handed the game off to Fournier, and Fournier carried this team to a win.
I don’t know if I’m more impressed with Fournier’s 32 points or RJ Barrett’s spectacular defense. In the first half RJ looked lost offensively, he didn’t gel with his other 4 teammates on the floor. So, he focused on his defense and patiently waited for his offense to follow. He held Tatum to 7-30 from the floor and 2-15 from downtown. RJ came around offensively in the third quarter scoring crucial points to keep the Knicks in the game and finished with 19 points on 54% shooting.
Other guys played a crucial role for the Knicks throughout the game. Obi Toppin proved that he deserves major minutes by scoring 14 points and making the crowd go ballistic with his highlight dunks. Mitchell Robinson who wasn’t even cleared to play until Tuesday and hadn’t practiced in over a week showed up with 11 points, 17 rebounds, and 2 big blocks.
The Knicks might be the deepest team in the league, and if a team wants to make a deep playoff run they need at least 8 guys who can show up and win the game for their team. By my count, the Knicks have 9 players that can make an impact play that leads to a win. We’re only one game into the season, and the Knicks have already made their fans excited for the next 81 games. That’s something that hasn’t been done since the mid-’90s, and hopefully, this season lasts more than 82 games.