Kyrie Irving, Celtics Cruise Past Kevin Knox, Knicks; Jayson Tatum Drops 17

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2018

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 6: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball against the New York Knicks on December 6, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 128-100 at TD Garden on Thursday night. 

Kyrie Irving led the way for the Celtics with 22 points and eight assists, while Gordon Hayward (eight points and six rebounds) and Jayson Tatum (17 points and five rebounds) also contributed to the victory.

Rookie Kevin Knox had 11 points for the Knicks in a losing effort.

                     

Jaylen Brown Has Sixth Man of the Year Potential in New Bench Role

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Jaylen Brown played a key role in helping Boston get to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, but he's coming off the bench as he recovers from a lower back bruise.

If he stays there, it could pay big dividends.

As Nicole Yang of Boston.com pointed out, the Celtics had the best offensive rating (124.6) and the second-best net rating (19.2) in basketball with Brown on the sidelines. That's a small sample size, but it's worth mentioning how well the team's played with Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris in the starting lineup.

Some players may take issue with a bench spot after they've established themselves as a productive starter, but Brown has made it clear he can handle whatever role coach Brad Stevens puts him in.

"People make it a bigger deal than it really it is," Brown said, per Yang. "At the end of the day, it's basketball. [Gordon] Hayward came off the bench the other day and had 30 points. That's a mindset thing; that's a choice. Coming out and having the right mindset, coming out and playing the right basketball, it will take care of itself."

He brought the right mindset Thursday. He put up a season-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting while playing 25 minutes in his first game since Nov. 24.

Brown is coming off a breakout season in which he established new career highs in scoring (14.5 ppg), field-goal percentage (46.5), three-point percentage (39.5) and rebounds (4.9). Even with that strong performance, the 22-year-old has established a team-first mentality.

"However we can keep this going, playing the right way and continuing to win, I'm 100 percent for," Brown said, per Yang.

And that approach could be a game-changer, as the No. 3 pick of the 2016 draft has put his ego aside and shown he can be a team player.

Boston has won four in a row and shows no signs of slowing. As long as the starting lineup continues to jell, Stevens has no reason to make drastic changes. And it doesn't hurt to have playmakers such as Brown and Hayward coming off the bench to provide a spark. 

              

Knicks Should Parlay Kanter into Assets Before Trade Deadline

It may be hard to find many bright spots amid an 8-18 start in the Big Apple, but there is no denying veteran center Enes Kanter is having a solid season.

As a result, he gives New York a potential trade chip.

The eighth-year veteran is having one of his finest seasons, averaging 14.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game entering Thursday night's action. He matched those numbers against the Celtics, posting 14 and 11.

Any team interested in the veteran big man has to like the fact that he has been productive whether he's started or come of the bench, much like he did with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2015 to 17.

At 6'11" and 250 pounds, he is a big presence down low. The NBA may be more about spreading out the floor and hitting three-pointers, but size still plays an important role, especially when it comes to cleaning up the glass.

Not only does Kanter's play make him an attractive trade target, but he also has an expiring contract. He exercised his $18.6 million player option over the summer to keep him in New York for at least one more season.

Kanter hasn't been able to "Make the Knicks Great Again" as he had hoped, but now, the team has a chance to use him to build for the future. If Kanter gets moved before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, the Knicks can see what they have in a front court that features rookie Mitchell Robinson and Kristaps Porzingis, who is recovering from a torn ACL.

          

What's Next

Both teams will be back in action Saturday. Boston (14-10) will head to the Windy City for a tilt against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, while New York (8-18) returns home to host the Brooklyn Nets.

       

Where to Watch: NBA games and related coverage are available through Fubo.TV/welcome.