Madison Square Garden was packed with a who’s who of stars to ring in the NBA season. Fans saw Michael J Fox, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Stewart, Pete Davidson, Tracy Morgan, and Knicks greats Latrell Sprewell, Alan Houston, Earl Monroe, and Willis Reed. The crowd was electric in the mecca of basketball. The stage was set, and the battle was set to begin.
The New York Knicks were without Taj Gibson, who was ruled out before tip-off for personal reasons, while the Celtics started All-Star wing, Jaylen Brown. The Celtics were still without Al Horford, who was still in Covid protocol. This game was an instant classic— it featured 11 lead changes and ten ties. No wonder this game went into two overtime periods to determine a victor. The Knicks pulled out the win by a score of 138-134.
Let me say that Brown started the game on fire! He scored 15 of the Celtics 17 points in the first quarter and scored at will from anywhere on the floor. Not bad for a guy who did not practice with his team for ten days, right? Brown finished with a career-high 46 points.
How did the Knicks respond to such an offensive onslaught from Brown? They had six players in double figures with — surprise surprise— Julius Randle leading the way with 35 points. The Knicks trailed much of the first three-quarters of the game, with Boston having a 58-54 lead at the half. Boston would extend that lead to 9 in the 3rd quarter, but the Knicks could come back and take the lead.
The Knicks were leading 109-114 when Kemba Walker almost gave the game away single-handed. Walker had back-to-back plays where Jaylen Brown picked off his passes. Then Evan Fournier also had a defensive lapse, leading to Marcus Smart making the game-tying three-pointer to end regulation. Fournier responded by hitting three consecutive threes, which was impressive. Fournier finished with 32 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and a block. Not too shabby for his first game at MSG!
One of the surprises for the Knicks was the play of Obi Topin. Topin played some quality minutes as a small-ball center and finished with 14 points but missed all 3 of his shots behind the arc. Tobin ran the floor exceptionally well and finished well at the rim, which was what the Knicks needed to keep the game close in the 4th quarter and overtime periods. Quickley and rookie Jerico Sims were not able to contribute much in their limited time.
Fans are ecstatic with the overall outcome, but some things need to be fixed moving forward. Walker and Fournier need to be smarter with the basketball to finish tight games. However, Fournier showed the NBA why he was worth a $19 Million/year contract by shooting 6-13 from the 3-point line, and Julius Randle picked up where he left off last year by playing dominant smart basketball. A win is a win is a win.
Next up is the Orlando Magic. Go New York Go New York Go!