Celtics vs. Knicks observations: Late C's comeback falls short in 96-92 loss

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Young C's show impressive fight in loss to Knicks as regular season ends originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics ended the 2020-21 NBA regular season Sunday afternoon with a 96-92 loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Boston was already locked into seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings and rested their top seven players to avoid further injuries.

The C's finish with a 36-36 record. Next up for Boston is the league's play-in tournament Tuesday night (more on that below).

Here are three observations from Celtics-Knicks.

1) Celtics showed impressive fight in fourth quarter

The Celtics gave the Knicks everything they could handle without any of their top seven players in the lineup. Boston was trailing by double-digits most of the game but made New York sweat after going on a 20-4 run in the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to 93-92 with two minutes remaining. 

C's guard Tremont Waters was the catalyst for the team's late run and finished with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting, including this step-back 3-point shot in the fourth quarter.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Grant Williams (13 points on 5-for-8 shooting) and Romeo Langford (14 points on 5-for-11) shooting also played well. Jabari Parker led all Celtics players with 18 points.

The most impressive part of Boston's late-game effort was New York really wanted to win this game. It's not like the Knicks had nothing to play for and rolled out a JV lineup.

A win guaranteed the Knicks the No. 4 seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. A loss had the potential to drop them all the way to the No. 6 seed.

2) Wizards are tough play-in matchup for C's

The Celtics officially will host the Wizards in the NBA play-in tournament Tuesday night at TD Garden. Washington was the worst of the potential opponents that Boston could have played. Why is that? Well, a couple reasons.

For starters, the Wizards finished the season with a 17-6 record in their last 23 games. They enter the play-in playing their best basketball of 2021.

Wizards superstar guard Bradley Beal is going to finish as the league's second-leading scorer at 31.4 points per game. Beal averaged 40.7 points and shot 55.3 percent in three games against the Celtics this season.

His backcourt mate, Russell Westbrook, vaulted himself into All-NBA team consideration with a fantastic close to the regular season. He averaged a triple-double for the year with 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game.

The Celtics will lock up the No. 7 seed in the first round if they beat the Wizards. A loss would force them to play the winner of the Indiana Pacers vs. Charlotte Hornets play-in game. A loss in that matchup would result in the C's missing the playoffs and entering the draft lottery.

3) Randle should be easy MIP Award pick

It's no secret Randle is the engine that makes the Knicks go. The 2013 first-round pick concluded the best regular season of his career by averaging 24.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists per game. He also shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range -- easily a career high.

Randle scored 20 points with seven rebounds and seven assists in Sunday's win over the C's.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The 26-year-old All-Star is the clear choice for the league's Most Improved Player Award. He set career highs in many statistical categories and most notably became a consistent outside shooter, which was one of the few weaknesses in his game prior to the 2020-21 campaign. 

There are a few other good candidates for Most Improved Player, including Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. and Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant. These two players had impressive seasons, but Randle easily is the most deserving player for the award.