Garrett Wilson joined the cast of New York Jets players who have attended other NY sporting events
When you’re a first-round pick for the New York Jets, you become an instant celebrity in New York.
When you’re the Offensive Rookie of the Year after having been a first-round pick, you’re a mega-star.
That’s the treatment Jets receiver Garrett Wilson receives in the metropolitan area. He deserves it after putting up 83 receptions, 1,103 yards, and four touchdowns in his rookie season.
“We came out with the right energy and the right mindset,” said Mitch Robinson, another monstrous two-way game in the books for him, 10 points and 13 rebounds and two blocks and countless moments when the Celtics wanted no part of shooting the ball anywhere near him. “And we got it done.”
They got it done despite a third straight subpar game from Jalen Brunson (who, admittedly, we are beginning to grade on a steep curve), despite only 50 combined points from their Big 3 of Brunson, Randle and RJ Barrett (8 ½ below their average), despite looking sluggish on offense for large swaths of the game.
They shot fine (47.4 percent), but not spectacularly. They missed 11 free throws. There were a few restless moments when it looked like they might succumb to their chronic Garden hiccups — although it does feel like this group is different than the iteration that spent the season’s first few months treating home court like kryptonite.
Why the Celtics can cover
Boston is the best road team in the league this season. The Celtics are 20-10 away from home with a league-best +2.6 net rating. Boston has myriad strengths on the defensive end, including top-three marks in free throw prevention, defensive rebound rate, and assist prevention, and the Celtics are also virtually impossible to stop on offense.
Boston is scoring more than 1.17 points per possession, ranking in the top three of the NBA. The Celtics generate 1.96 assists for every turnover, No. 2 in the league, and Boston is averaging a turnover on only 13.4% of possessions. The Celtics are No. 4 in overall shooting efficiency, making 38.0% of 3-pointers, 56.3% of 2-pointers, and 82.5% of free throw attempts. With Boston also ranking No. 2 in the NBA in 3-pointers (16.0 per game), the Celtics put consistent pressure on opposing defenses.
And this wasn’t against a yawning team like Charlotte or Detroit or Houston; this was against the Celtics, defending Eastern Conference champs. Were they missing Jaylen Brown? Sure. But the Celtics had already played 11 games without Brown this year, won nine of them. They pride themselves on their next-man-up mentality.
And for a night, anyway, they were the second-best team on the floor on a night when the Knicks were the other team on the floor, on a night when the Knicks only hinted at their A-game. The Knicks weren’t perfect. And smoked the Celtics anyway.
Another off night for Jayson Tatum
Other than his game-winner on Saturday, Jayson Tatum hasn’t looked like himself lately and that continued Monday night. The four-time All-Star had only six points in the first half and finished the game with 14. He shot 6-for-18 from the floor, had four turnovers, and played a role in the team’s 3-point shooting woes by going 1-for-9 from behind the arc.
With 3:46 left in the fourth quarter, Tatum was ejected for arguing with the official and earning his second technical foul. It was the first ejection of his NBA career.
“I thought a good, solid team win,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodaux, who has gone from a guy sitting a few steps away from the griddle in November to his familiar position where he’ll surely get his share of Coach-of-the-Year votes. “Their record tells you how good they are, they can make up ground very quickly because of the way they shoot the 3. No lead feels safe with them. We had good all-around play.”
So much of what the Knicks were able to do came thanks to an astonishing effort against Boston’s MVP candidate, Jayson Tatum, who was limited to 14 points — 16 below his average — and missed eight of his nine 3-point attempts. By game’s end Tatum was taking the walk of shame back to the visitor’s locker room after drawing his second technical of the night with 3:46 to go.
Why the Knicks can cover
New York is enjoying tremendous offensive success this season. The Knicks are scoring 115.9 points per 100 possessions, ranking in the top eight of the NBA in efficiency. New York is also fantastic on the offensive glass, leading the league with 17.1 second-chance points per game and securing more than 32% of missed shots. The Knicks boost efficiency with elite ball security, committing a turnover on fewer than 13% of offensive possessions and committing the fewest live-ball turnovers (6.0 per game) in the NBA.
The Knicks also generate 25.5 free throw attempts per game, No. 6 in the league, and New York has key defensive strengths. The Knicks lead the NBA in points allowed in the paint (45.0 per game), and New York is firmly in the top five of the league in field goal percentage allowed (45.5%) and fast break points allowed (12.5 per game).
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