It didn't take long for the Celtics to prove that they are head and shoulders above the Knicks Tuesday night at TD Garden.
But what stood out the most about the Celtics' (2-2) 110-87 blowout win was the play of Jaylen Brown (on his birthday, nonetheless) and Jayson Tatum. The youngest members of Brad Stevens' current starting unit not only demonstrated why Stevens can rely on the youngsters for solid production, but also reassured their fans that the near-future is certainly brighter than it appeared to be one week ago.
For a team that's only seven days removed from seeing one of their cornerstone All-Stars suffer from a season-ending injury, the Celtics kicked off Week 2 of the regular season on the backs of birthday boy Brown and a 19-year-old rookie.
The Celtics' newest 21-year-old poured in 13 points in 11 minutes. He along with Irving (11 points) were responsible for 24 of Boston's 30 points and propelled the Celtics to an early double-digit lead (30-17) at the end of the opening frame.
In the second quarter, it was Tatum's turn to shine. The third overall pick made two defensive stops and scored 7 straight points.
By the end of the first half, Brown (18 points) and Tatum had combined for 30 points as the Celtics took a 54-33 lead. They also did a stellar job with their help-defense in the paint, helping their bigs contain Kristaps Porzingis.
"We need them to be good," Stevens said about Brown and Tatum. "They're impactful players, and we don't need them to do anything they don't do well; we just need them to be good at what they do well. And so, and I think that obviously this past week has made that pretty obvious, especially until we get the two Marcuses [Smart, Morris] back."Tatum finished with three steals and two blocks while Tatum, Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis all swatted at least one shot and combined for all 7 team blocks. Porzingis finished 3-of-14 from the floor for 6 points to go with his 3 rebounds.
Brown's game-high 23 points along with Tatum's 22 points led the Celtics. Horford added a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Kyrie Irving chipped in 20 points and 7 assists.
"I was just being aggressive playing off Al Horford and Kyrie," Brown said after the game. "They draw a lot of attention, so I've got to make plays when they're taking up a lot of that attention. [I have to] come out, be aggressive, me and Jayson [Tatum] -- got to make teams guard us. Make it easier for Al and Kyrie."Enes Kanter's double-double (16 points, 19 rebounds) led New York. Courtney Lee chipped in 13 points.
Celtics will look to avenge their loss to the Bucks on Thursday night in Milwaukee in hopes of earning making it three wins in a row.
The Celtics have certainly done a great job of taking care of the ball so far this season but for them to finish a game with only 12 turnovers is impressive. Boston protected the ball extremely well against New York, running an efficient and fluid offense and setting the tone early and often.
Marcus Smart (sprained left ankle) sat out Tuesday. No word if he'll be back in action Thursday against the Bucks but will travel with the team to Milwaukee, according to Stevens.
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