The Boston Celtics absolutely steamrolled the New York Knicks today, making an NBA game look like your usual D1 vs. D3 college basketball game. Jordan Crawford was raining treys, Brandon Bass was overpowering and taunting Carmelo Anthony, and the Celtics looked like world beaters. The game was almost over before it started, as the Celtics exploded out to a 25-3 lead and never looked back, making Madison Square Garden their house en route to a 114-73 win.
Sure, the Knicks are terrible. They don’t play defense. The word ‘stagnant’ was created to define their offense. They’re invisible on the boards. And if Mike Woodson’s long, perturbed stares, and unending, almost emotionless frowns are any indication, Woody is just about ready to see his time as the coach of the Knicks come to an end.
But let’s stop and give the C’s some credit. Most thought it would be tank city in Boston this year. Maybe their gifting of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets tricked us. Early on, however, tanking doesn’t appear to be in the cards in Beantown. The Celtics sit atop the pitiful Atlantic Division with their 10-12 record and would get the four seed in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs started today. The high seeding and divisional standing obviously has a lot to do with the utter incompetence of the rest of the Eastern Conference. But, for their mediocre talent and lack of a legit center, the Celtics have shown some skills and spunk early on this season.
Jeff Green continues to improve consistently if modestly. The Celtics’ big, athletic wing has developed a consistent jumper and is scoring at a clip of 17 points per game, the highest of his career. Jordan Crawford has been dynamite for the Celtics, leading them in assists per game and shooting at a 46% clip. Gerald Wallace has brought typical Gerald Wallace (read: high) intensity, and Jared Sullinger is off to a great start to his sophomore campaign in the NBA. Moreover, the Celtics have been a rugged defensive team. Avery Bradley leads a very physical and tough defensive squad with his pressure defense. Offensively, the Celtics share the ball and have five guys averaging in double digit scoring.
The Celtics have now won three in a row. They’ve exploded out of the gate in their last two games–wins over the Nuggets and Knicks. They’re gelling and playing well. And first year coach Brad Stevens deserves illimitable credit for getting a Rondo-less and relatively untalented Celtics team playing respectable ball.
For Celtics fans, this is getting confusing. I entered the season dreaming of Andrew Wiggins, not of a trip to the playoffs, and I’m certainly not the only Celtics fan who was in that state of mind. The Celtics are not going to be serious contenders either, even after the injured Rajon Rondo returns–the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers still are in the East. Still, it isn’t really fair to be upset that the Celtics are playing good, hard-nosed basketball. It certainly could be worse. At least they’re not the Knicks, playing lifeless, selfish basketball, with no rebuild or master plan in sight.