Knicks vs. Celtics Julius Randle-Obi Toppin pairing struggle

For the Knicks’ first straight run, a roster featuring both Julius Randle and Obi Toppin appeared.

In the back, it sparkled.

With center Mitchell Robinson out for at least a week with a sprained knee, coach Tom Thibodeau returned to an undersized frontcourt of Randle and Toppin for a few brief spells Saturday night. But it was much less effective than the day before since the Knicks fell to the Celtics, 133-118, at the Garden.

“Good,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously the pace of the game is a lot faster so that’s a big plus. I want to see the movie. I just didn’t think our defense with any group was what it needed to be. But I like it. I like what it gives us.”

After Robinson was injured in the first half of Friday’s win over the 76ers, Thibodeau went into a Randle-Toppin formation for nearly all of the final 10-plus minutes of the fourth quarter. The Knicks went from 12 to a two-point victory.

Julius Randle and Obi Toppin
Julius Randle and Obi Toppin
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But on Saturday, even with the Celtics missing big men Al Horford and Robert Williams, the Randle-Toppin duo couldn’t take advantage and find the same magic as the Knicks were 15 under in seven minutes with them on the court. at the same time. .

Thibodeau grounded them both early in the second quarter, and the Celtics immediately clinched a 7-0 run. He tried again for a brief push late in the third quarter and again midway through the fourth, but each time the Celtics extended their lead.

“I think we played well,” Toppin said. “Today I think I was like minus-22 when I was in the game. Like I said, we’re not perfect. We just need to come back with a lot more energy and a lot more fight next game.

After putting together a solid game against the 76ers in a matter of minutes, Toppin cooled down on Saturday, recording seven points (including 1 for 5 of three) with six rebounds in 15 minutes.

Randle came out strong and finished with 29 points and nine rebounds. And while his minutes with Toppin weren’t as productive on Saturday, he thinks training can help the Knicks move forward.

“I love it,” Randle said. “Play fast, spacing yourself out on the ground, obviously, on the attacking side. Power to switch. The most important thing with this group is that we just have to bounce back. I think that’s the only thing, even when he’s not there, it’s not a 4 and 5. I think we clean up our rebound and we’ll be fine.

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