Yesterday’s opening games were fun as hell to watch, but Day 2 of the 2021-22 NBA season decided not to be outdone. In one of the early games of the day, the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks put on a barnburner of a double overtime game that will be a league pass classic for a long time. It was a ridiculous game that had an insane end to regulation, and some pretty fun sequences in the overtime periods.
Here’s some of the things that stood out in the clash between potential Eastern Conference playoff opponents.
Evan Fournier may be the scorer that the Knicks desperately missed last season
Evan Fournier spent half a season as a Boston Celtic, so he clearly had no reason to feel any tinge of loyalty to his former team. He helped power the Knicks to the 138-134 victory thanks to 32 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and a block with a lone turnover. He was a big help to Julius Randle who led the team in scoring with 35 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 blocks, along with 7 turnovers.
Fournier was highly efficient, too, hitting 13 of 25 of his shots including 6 of 13 threes. The Knicks were missing a good scorer to complement Randle in the playoffs last season, as you can’t rely on an older Derrick Rose to lead the Knicks in scoring like he did in the Atlanta series.
Jaylen Brown’s will was stronger than his Covid-19 symptoms
Jaylen Brown tested positive for Covid-19 a couple of weeks ago, and he told ESPN that he had some breathing issues. It sure didn’t look like he was bothered much as he got the surprise start to the game and poured on 20 points in the first quarter. Brown beasted his way to a 46 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and a block with 4 turnovers. He had more than double his star teammate Jayson Tatum’s points, who finished with 20. Brown also shot the lights out, going 16 of 30 from the field and 8 of 14 from three, along with making 6 of 8 of his free throws.
Brown’s performance was a clear reminder of how much they could have used him against the Nets in the playoffs, where the Celtics managed to steal a game thanks to a 50-point outburst from Tatum. The Celtics, who employ a star 1A and star 1B system in Brown and Tatum, will be hoping he continues to stay healthy and ball out.
Kemba Walker’s first game in front of his hometown crowd wasn’t great, but wasn’t awful either
Kemba Walker never really found a good fit with the Boston Celtics, and got a lot of flak considering his reputation before he came to Beantown. His first game for his hometown Knicks wasn’t particularly great, finishing with 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and 4 turnovers. He went 3 of 4 from three but missed the rest of the four two-pointers that he took.
Knicks fans demand a lot, but they’ve got to be realistic here. Walker is only signed to a two-year contract worth just under $18 million, so they’re not paying him big bucks. Walker’s earned roughly $158 million so far and so for around $9 million a year, he’s not a big risk or a big commitment on their balance sheet. With Randle, Fournier, and RJ Barrett on the team, he’s not going to be expected to score heavily every night. That might end up working out for both the 31-year-old point guard and the Knicks.