Knicks clinch No. 4 seed with thriller win against the Celtics in regular season finale
Fourth seed, we here! In thriller fashion, the New York Knicks survived another late comeback and clinched fourth place in the East, defeating the Boston Celtics 96-92 this afternoon at the Garden in the final game of the regular season.
The Celtics played without seven key players and it seemed to be an easy win but the first 20 minutes of the game had five lead changes. Then, with 4:23 remaining in the second quarter, RJ Barrett gave the Knicks the lead for good with a layup off a Julius Randle assist.
From there on, the Knicks continued to build and got to a 21 point advantage with less than four minutes left in the third quarter after tightening their defense and making three pointers at ease.
But then, the Celtics forced a comeback and cut the lead to just one point with 2:13 left on the clock, propelled by Tremont Waters in a timespan of under five minutes, which also included a 15-0 run.
However, Nerlens Noel had two big blocks and Randle secured the win from the free throw line.
RJ Barrett led the Knicks with 22 points and Julius Randle had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Alec Burks scored 17 off the bench, shooting 7-5 from behind the arc while Reggie Bullock finished with 16 points going 4-7 from long distance.
The Celtics were led by Jabari Parker who delivered 18 buckets and Tremont Warers who scored 17 points – 15 of which in the third quarter – both of them off the bench. They played without Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Marcus Smart, Tristan Thompson and Robert Williams who were all rested. Jaylen Brown was already done for the season following a wrist surgery.
Knicks’ only option was the win. A loss today would had sent them straight to Milwaukee and all the effort from the past weeks would have been in vain. But at number 4, the Knicks will get the Hawks in the first round.
“We have to understand the challenge continues and the intensity level to the playoffs is much different than the regular season. That means nothing going into the playoffs. The regular season is the regular season. Now you’re at a zero base and we know how well they’re playing. They’ve gotten a lot better as the season has gone on.”
– Tom Thibodeau
The Knicks regular season record against the Hawks is 3-0.
IT’S PLAYOFFS TIME! The Knicks will meet the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and will host the home opener.