The Celtics went 5-1 in a total of nine nights, one of them being a road win over the New York Knicks on Christmas Day. Six players scored in double figures, overcoming a shaky ending to defeat the Knicks 119-114.
Isaiah Thomas scored a team high 27 points, while Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points; Derrick Rose 25 points, and Kristaps Porzingis 22 pts.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Boston saw their 9-point lead slip away in 30 seconds, as the Knicks went on a 9-0 run in seconds to tie the game at 112 with a 1:06 to go. Kristaps Porzingis was not letting anyone score on him in his house.
It would be expected that Isaiah Thomas would break the tie, but it would be Marcus Smart, the same Marcus Smart who went 27.2 percent from long range and who has been a pain offensively and defensively for the Celtics. Unguarded, Smart splashed a huge three with 47 seconds to go to give Boston a 3-point lead. Although not a big role player all throughout, Smart was one of the crucial key players in the win.
The other? Avery Bradley, who would officially seal the deal with a steal from Carmelo Anthony. The 2015-2016 All-Defensive first-team player denied any chance of Carmelo getting into scoring position. Bradley’s steal would bounce into the hands of Jae Crowder, forcing Joakim Noah to foul him, giving Crowder two guaranteed FT shots to ice the game. Crowder’s made shots would give the Celtics their 18th win of the season and an early Christmas gift in MSG.
With this win, the Celtics have now won 5 of their last 6 games and maintain the third seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Quietly, Coach Brad Stevens is slowly bringing the Celtics back to the elite status they once had. Sure, it won’t be as elite as it was in the Larry Bird era, but Stevens has been one of the main reasons for bringing Boston back to relevancy.
In his 3rd year as head coach, Stevens has steadily improved from his 25-57 record in the 2013-2014 season. This season, he has a chance to climb over the .500 mark if he sticks to the formula that has made them successful thus far. Certainly, he is a coach that has been overlooked.
The Celtics now have the most road wins in the Eastern Conference, trailing only San Antonio and Golden State on the other side of the league. They have 3 games remaining before their 2016 slate is over, and they hope to continue their road win dominance as they face the NBA champs in the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road.
The Celtics managed to snap the Warriors home game winning streak at 54, so it’s certainly possible they can give these defending champs a run for their money.