The Boston Celtics went into Tuesday’s game on the heels on a three-game skid and were in need of a spark against the red-hot New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Luckily, a new-look lineup did just that.
Brad Stevens hinted before the game that there’d be a change to the starting five, but wouldn’t reveal what it was. At game time, he trotted out Marcus Smart at point guard with Avery Bradley at shooting guard, slid Evan Turner to small forward and had Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass man the frontcourt.
What that earned the Celtics was a 108-97 win during which they never trailed.
The win, for once, was a full team effort. Smart’s addition to the starting lineup gave Boston a boost without affecting the energy of the bench. Bradley went off for 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting and was the game’s top scorer despite a fractured left thumb. Sullinger added 22 more for good measure.
And as much as New York tried, it simply couldn’t catch up to the C’s.
“Obviously (the thumb injury) didn’t affect (Bradley’s) shot today,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “He was smoking from everywhere.”
The Knicks had won five of their last seven entering the contest, but the Celtics started with a 14-2 run and never let go.
“They came out hot,” Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who scored 21 points, told The Associated Press. “They made shots. We didn’t make shots, along with the lack of energy that we put out there tonight. For some reason we looked tired out there, we looked fatigued out there, and them guys didn’t.”
The Celtics return to TD Garden on Wednesday and will look to make winning a trend against Denver Nuggets. Denver has lost nine of its last 10, including a 105-98 loss to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Thumbnail photo via Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports Images