Kevin Knox, Trey Burke Lead Knicks to Upset of Kyrie Irving, Struggling CelticsNovember 22, 2018
Trey Burke scored 29 points along with 11 assists and rookie forward Kevin Knox added 11 points and nine rebounds as the New York Knicks upset the Boston Celtics in a 117-109 road win on Wednesday.
Kyrie Irving led Boston with 22 points.
New York broke a six-game losing streak and moved to 5-14 with the victory, while the C's have now lost seven of their past 10 games to drop to 9-9.
Celtics Look Doomed to Early Playoff Exit
While one game doesn't necessarily foreshadow an entire season, a home loss to a 4-14 team that had dropped six straight is a bad sign for the Celtics, who entered this year as one of the Eastern Conference's clear title contenders.
Boston was first in defensive efficiency entering the game, per ESPN.com, but its prowess on that end was non-existent as the Knicks scored with ease from everywhere on the court.
However, the Celtics offense was even more concerning. Of note, Boston scored just 109 points against a team that allowed 114.9 per game through 18 contests.
Boston's first-half performance in particular left a lot to be desired, with the team shooting just 38.3 percent from the field and only 1-of-13 from long range.
Yahoo, RealGM and Celtics Blog contributor Keith Smith provided commentary on the first 24 minutes:
Celtics Blog also encapsulated the mood of all Celtics fans right now:
Boston should still make the playoffs—the C's simply have too much talent, and the Eastern Conference is top-heavy—but the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers compose of the clear top class in the East right now.
That may leave Boston fighting just for home-court advantage in the first round, which isn't a given as the team sits tied for seventh place through 18 games.
Knicks Must Start Kevin Knox Every Game Despite Struggles
Knox, who was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft, should be starting every night despite his rude NBA awakening.
Entering Wednesday night, the ex-Kentucky Wildcat was shooting just 33.0 percent from the field. The 6'9" forward also wasn't making much of an impact on the boards, with just 2.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game.
However, Knox proved why the Knicks took him in the top 10 on Wednesday. In addition to his near double-double, he was plus-11 in 26 minutes off the bench. He also drilled his two three-pointers, which proved to be crucial as the Knicks nearly blew a 26-point lead.
That being said, Knox's good game against the C's isn't the primary reason he should be in the starting five, an honor he's received just three times in 12 appearances.
Ultimately, New York is in year one of a new rebuilding phase, and more playing time could only help his development moving forward. He's better off learning on the court than on the bench.
The flip side is that Knox could perhaps lose confidence if he struggles, but what pressure is on him and the Knicks this season, really? No one is expecting him to save New York basketball right now, especially at just 19 years of age.
Some ugly games may lay ahead for Knox, but we'll also see some impressive performances like the one from Wednesday as well.
The Knicks host the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET before embarking on a three-game road trip, while the Celtics begin a three-game road stretch at the Atlanta Hawks on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.