Celtics pursue justice on streaking Knicks as both teams compete for playoff position

Boston Celtics

This season, New York has defeated Boston in consecutive games, and they have a two-game winning streak.

The Boston Celtics have two chances to get back on track when they play the New York Knicks on Sunday night. The Celtics had a 28-point lead over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night but ultimately lost. Hardly the best moment for the Celtics, who were booed off the floor in L.A., but the biggest comeback of the whole NBA season. After falling to the Knicks 109-94 earlier this week, Boston will also be hoping to get back on track.

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The Celtics have dropped two in a row against the Knicks, including a 120-117 overtime setback in late January. With the Knicks looking like a potential playoff team of late, the Celtics will have their work cut out for them in getting retribution. As of Sunday night, they’ve won eight straight games and are in sixth in the Eastern Conference.

“I feel like right now we are firing on all cylinders,” Knicks guard Quentin Grimes said of the squad recently. Everyone is working together and playing for the greater good.

The Knicks have been exceptional on offense this season, despite Tom Thibodeau’s teams being recognized for their defense in the past. According to Cleaning the Glass, they have the third-best offensive in the league during the last two weeks and the third-best offense for the season. Last season, they were ranked dead last in the league.

The arrival of Jalen Brunson in the summer has undoubtedly played a huge role. Before the season started, several people questioned whether or not the Knicks overpaid for Brunson. Yet, he appears determined to show that they didn’t. Brunson has averaged roughly 29 points, close to six assists, and well over 50 percent shooting from the floor over the previous 15 games. Everybody, including his teammates, can see how much of a difference he makes to the offense.

Randle recently remarked, “It’s simply wonderful,” regarding his time spent on the court with Brunson. “Because of this, everyone in the game has an easier time of it. He’s been instrumental in our team’s success with his clutch plays and streamlined playmaking.”

New York’s success this season has been a team effort, with contributions from several players (but especially Brunson and Randle). Immanuel Quickley’s bench contribution has been steady and solid, and R.J. Barrett’s play has been adequate but erratic. Mitchell Robinson, meanwhile, has recorded four consecutive double-doubles after being out for more than a month due to thumb surgery.

The Knicks’ acquisition of Josh Hart just before the trade deadline has also been beneficial in more ways than one. He has contributed more than 12 points, 5 boards, and 3 assists a game on average. Hart’s arrival in New York, where he is undefeated in eight games so far, coincides with the Knicks’ current winning run. The Celtics will try to stop him from improving his record to 9-0.

The Celtics will need to improve their shooting if they want to win. The Celtics’ latest defeat to the Knicks came despite a 21 percent (9-of-42) performance from beyond the arc. It won’t do anything useful.

“Watching the game was painful,” said Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, who was absent from the game due to personal reasons. To begin the game, I believe we shot far too many threes.

This is the fifth and final matchup between the two squads during the regular season. If New York wins, they’ll take the season series 3-1; if Boston wins, it’ll be 2-2. Early in November, Boston and New York played each other for the first time, and Boston came out on top.

This game has the potential to serve as a postseason preview. While a first-round meeting between the two clubs looks improbable, a matchup between them is possible if both teams advance.

The Celtics, who had been atop the Eastern Conference for the most of the season, are now a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for first place. In a similar vein, Knicks are now only one game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth slot, making Sunday night’s matchup a battle for seeding for both clubs. Thus, both teams should be fired up and ready to play.

Mary Ann Quilay

Mary Ann Quilay