NEW YORK – After the Boston Celtics set a franchise record with 27 3-pointers in a 133-118 victory here at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, Celtics guard Marcus Smart called the attack of the team of “a thing of beauty”.
“It was amazing,” Smart said. “(Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla) was just preaching to us, ‘Don’t get tired, we’re playing the right way.’ I think every coach preaches that, but to actually see it happen in action is a beautiful thing.
“It’s good for us. It was good for the guys to hit shots, it was good for the team to see how we play when we play that way and the things we can do, so we have to keep preaching that, we have to keep working.”
It’s easy to see why Smart was enthused by this one, a performance where Boston finished with 30 assists on 47 field goals made, shot over 53% from the field and went 27 for 41 from 3 range. points.
Smart himself had 11 of those assists against just one turnover, as Boston immediately took an early lead by scoring 15 points in the first 4 minutes and never let up afterwards.
“That’s a lot of threes,” said Knicks guard RJ Barrett, who scored 27 points for New York (4-5). “Sometimes a team gets hot. Hard to beat 27 threes, but we fought all the way through. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
The Celtics, who were led by Jaylen Brown’s 30 points, expressed some frustration with their defense – which, as Barrett said, prevented Boston from opening the game sooner than it could have , given the way the Celtics shot the ball.
But playing without Al Horford (back) and Luke Kornet (personal reasons) and with Robert Williams still sidelined with knee surgery in the offseason, the Celtics were happy with how they reacted in the second consecutive night.
They did so, in part, because of the play of forward Sam Hauser off the bench, who hit 5 3-pointers and scored 17 points – both career highs – in 21 minutes.
Hauser, who earned a full contract with Boston this offseason after playing last year on a two-way deal, quickly secured the role that was potentially reserved for Danilo Gallinari before tearing his ACL this summer in playing for Italy, and showed why with his ability to stretch the floor on Saturday night.
“Once you have the first couple to go, it opens up a bit,” Hauser said. “Yeah, I definitely had a lot of confidence tonight and I think I’m getting my feet under me and feeling more comfortable knowing these guys and where I’m supposed to be. So I’m just gonna keep going. play with them and do my part.”
Ahead of the match, Williams said he was making progress in his recovery and was back on the pitch to work again as he continued to return from surgery in September. And while Boston has more than held service without their defensive anchor to start the season, they’re thrilled to have him back on the team — let alone get him back on the court.
“We’re just going to be a much better team,” Jayson Tatum said. “That’s how important Rob is to our group. I can’t stress enough how important he is on the offensive side, the defensive side, his presence, the lob threat, the protection of the rim. Obviously his ability to pass the ball. Obviously we miss him but we don’t want to rush him because we want him when it matters most.”