On the second half of a back-to-back and without Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics barely held onto a close 103-101 victory over the New York Knicks. It was a game of runs as on three occasions the Celtics led by double digits only to see the Knicks come back and tie it each time.
As I said Brad Stevens elected to sit Hayward last night on back-end of the back-to-back coming off the season ending injury last year and still with a minutes restriction. For the second time in 3 games, Kyrie Irving had an off night finishing with 16 points but 6 of those came at the free throw line. Al Horford had a solid first half but was a nonfactor in the second half. Also halfway through the 2nd quarter, Aron Baynes left with a hamstring injury and did not return, Stevens provided no update after the game. Without his physical big man, Stevens turned to Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart to ramp up the defensive intensity and it worked as they held the Knicks to 22 points in the 3rd quarter, Morris also chipped in with 16 points offensively including 2 three-pointers and a perfect 6-6 from the line. In the 4th quarter though it was all on the shoulders of the young stud, Jayson Tatum, as he carried the Celtics offensively and hit what turned out the be the dagger, a fadeaway jumper in Hardaway’s face.
David Fizzdale had to turn scoring duties to somebody in Kristaps Porzgings absence as he works his way back from a torn ACL. It appears that the man he has entrusted is Tim Hardaway Jr who had a great night with 24 points and got help off the bench with 15 and 10 points from Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson. Big man Enes Kanter also chipped in with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Down three with seconds left Tatum fouled Hardaway while shooting a three giving him a chance to tie the game, but he missed the first one forcing him to intentionally miss the 3rd. The Celtics gathered the rebound and escaped with the win.
Studs: Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart
Duds: Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown