After Knicks' thrilling win over Celtics, it feels like the best is yet to come

Immanuel Quickley
Immanuel Quickley / Winslow Townson - USA TODAY Sports

When the Knicks beat the Boston Celtics at home last Monday, they did it without huge scoring efforts from Julius Randle or Jalen Brunson.

"That’s what makes us who we are," Immanuel Quickley said that night. "Julius can go get 45, 50 any night. JB can go get 45, 50 on any night. And then on any night I feel like I can help out a little bit with the scoring, too. As well as other guys. It’s not just any select person. That’s what makes us special."

You wouldn’t use the word "special" to describe the Knicks often over the last two-plus decades. But it seems to fit well this season. Quickley provided more evidence to support the description on Sunday night.

He had a career-high 38 points in 53 minutes to help lift the Knicks to a double-overtime win in Boston. The Knicks beat the Celtics without Brunson, who missed the game with a sore foot. Quickley started in his place and had the best game of his young NBA career, hitting 15 of 28 shots (five of 12 from beyond the arc). Quickley also had eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocks. It was the Knicks’ ninth-straight win – the longest current streak in the NBA.

New York is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 16 games to play. Tom Thibodeau’s club is two games ahead of the Nets in the standings and 4.5 games ahead of the Miami Heat.

They enter the week one game behind fourth-place the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference and 9-0 in the Josh Hart era.

The only bad news for the Knicks? The Cavs host Boston on Monday – less than 24 hours after their double-overtime loss to New York. It’s hard to see how the Celtics beat the Cavs to help the Knicks close the gap in the standings.

Mar 3, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) walks along the court after a late shot to give his team the lead over the Miami Heat at Miami-Dade Arena.
Mar 3, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) walks along the court after a late shot to give his team the lead over the Miami Heat at Miami-Dade Arena. / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

That seems like the only negative for the Knicks after one of the best weeks in recent franchise history. New York beat the Celtics at the Garden and in Boston. They beat the Nets at the Garden, and they beat the Heat in Miami on a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to play from Randle.

Maybe you rank a week during the Linsanity run higher than this week? Or a week during the Knicks’ 13-game winning streak in 2012-13?

No matter where you rank this week historically, it was a seven-day stretch that solidified the Knicks as a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.

An opposing coach from a team out of playoff position said the Knicks are a team to avoid in the first round because of their physical nature.

"You will get beat up on both sides of the ball – you’ll feel it over the course of a series (against the Knicks)," the coach said. "Even if you beat them, they will wear you out (in a seven-game series)."

A little over three months ago, the Knicks looked like a team in disarray. They got crushed at home by the Dallas Mavericks to fall to 10-13. They were a few losses away from significant organizational changes – whether it was a coaching change or something else. But Thibodeau shortened his rotation to nine players. And the Knicks haven’t looked back since.

The Knicks wake up on Monday with the fifth-ranked offense in the NBA. They have the 15th-ranked defense. Their defensive numbers took a hit due to Mitchell Robinson’s thumb injury. With Robinson on the court, the Knicks have a top-10 defense rating. They also rank top-five in opponent field-goal percentage and opponent 3-point percentage. They’ve defended well much of the season. The offense is ascending. Quite a week for the Knicks. They leave you with the feeling that the best is yet to come.