In only the second game back after a week of postponed games due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team, the Boston Celtics suffered an embarrassing 105-75 loss at the hands of the New York Knicks Sunday afternoon, where they struggled heavily on both ends of the floor. While the Celtics were without Jayson Tatum, who remains out due to the league's health and safety protocols, give credit to the Knicks defense, which held Boston to just 50 points through three quarters of action.
Boston went 7 of 49 from 3-point range, and shot a disastrous 29.8 percent from the field. Only two Celtics finished in double digits, with Jaylen Brown leading the team with 25 points and Marcus Smart adding just 10 points. After the ugly loss, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Sunday's game was uncharacteristic for this team.
"I don't believe that's who this team is. I do believe we have to play really well to win," Stevens told reporters. "Our margin's not that big. Today, we had a clunker. You try to have as few of those as you can. We just looked like we were in mud today and credit them. They didn't."
A clunker indeed. This was just the third game this season the Celtics were held under 100 points, and they weren't even close to reaching that mark. On the Knicks' side, this was the first time since 2016 they held an opponent under 80 points in a game.
This was also Kemba Walker's season debut after the All-Star point guard sat out the start of the season while recovering from a knee injury that's bothered him for quite some time. Walker looked noticeably rusty, as evidenced from his five turnovers, but he also finished with three steals and was making plays to put him and his teammates in a position to put points on the board, but no one -- including Walker -- could finish on offense.
Walker played just 20 minutes as the Celtics eased him back into the game, but said after the loss that he hopes the restriction gets lifted soon. He also said that his knee felt great, compared to what he was dealing with in the NBA bubble.
The Knicks snapped a five-game losing streak behind impressive performances from rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin. Quickly finished with 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench, while Toppin added 12 points and five boards. Julius Randle continued his surprising start to the season, leading New York in points (20) and rebounds (12), to go along with four assists and three steals.
This should be an encouraging win for the Knicks, after stringing together five losses prior to Sunday. While many will point to Tatum being out for Boston as a way to diminish this win, New York has actually looked like a far better team than last season. It shows that players are buying into what coach Tom Thibodeau is teaching, and that the progression of players like RJ Barrett -- who had 19 points in the win -- and Randle is helping this team take a step forward in its never-ending rebuild.