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Knicks 114, Celtics 107: Scenes from a rusty, ragged first preseason game

New York opens their preseason with a mixed-bag victory.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

When it was announced that the Boston Celtics would sit their stars for tonight’s preseason game, a Knicks’ victory seemed certain. Thanks to that pest Payton Pritchard, the savant Svi Mykhailiuk, and rust, New York’s finest struggled to put away the visitors for much of the game, finally prevailing 114-107.

Boston was playing the second game of a back-to-back, so Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, Kristaps Porzingis, and Derrick White all sat out of tonight’s tilt. Coach Joe Mazzulla confirmed that while none of the players were hurt, they had contracted a Latvian strain of the Missagame virus from Porzingis. Mazzulla, also experiencing symptoms, doubted he would coach their next game.

Boston fielded a bunch of reserves and a towel boy on a 10-day contract, and still they were ahead at the end of the first quarter. The replacements kept neck and neck with the Knicks throughout the game, but hey—it’s preseason. At least we got to see Jalen Brunson return to work:

As usual for an exhibition game, the Knicks’ offense creaked and groaned. Quentin Grimes looked allergic to the ball for most of his 13 first-half minutes. Newly acquired Donte DiVincenzo showed some defensive chops, but was an 0-fer until late in the third quarter. Evan Fournier tried hard to prove that he still deserves NBA minutes. Jericho Sims played extended minutes at power forward and started the second half alongside Mitchell Robinson. The Sims-as-PF project needs more work. . . . I briefly thought Nathan Knight should get a longer look, then the big mathematician flubbed a dribble and fumbled a rebound.

No sweat, it’s preseason.

There were encouraging signs. Brunson played only six minutes—he played basketball all summer and doesn’t need the reps. A thicker-looking Immanuel Quickley (21 points, 23 minutes, 8-for-14 FG, three steals) ran the offense for much of the game and played his usual, sticky defense. RJ Barrett entered the game as a career 71% free throw shooter but was 9-for-9 from the charity stripe tonight. Robinson might be in the best shape of his career and was a blocking beast among mere mortals.

Fresh meat for a voracious blog! The Knicks have given us (mostly) real basketball to discuss again. One of our newest P&Ters, Sam Stein has your recap baking in the oven. Should be served up hot tomorrow morning. Rest easy, Knickerbockers.