The New York Knicks topped the Boston Celtics in a double overtime thriller in their opener to the NBA season.
Although they were shorthanded, missing both Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson, the Knicks were able to gut out a victory, largely thanks to the play of both Julius Randle and Evan Fournier.
Randle made the All-Star team for the first time last season and if his performance against the Celtics is anything to go off, then he’ll be getting another spot in the game.
Coming off a playoff appearance, the Knicks have their sets on making a deep run this season, and they’ll need a lot of dominoes to fall their way if they are going to pull that off.
The playoffs are still a long way away, but the opening night game felt like a playoff matchup in a lot of ways, and Randle even celebrated like it was one.
Randle Fined After Celebration
According to The Athletic’s Fred Katz, Julius Randle was fined $15,000 for throwing the ball into the stands after the double OT win.
Randle finished with 35 points along with nine assists and eight rebounds, so there was definitely a lot to be happy about following the win.
In fact, him and Fournier both scored over 30, making them the first pair of Knicks ever to score more than 30 points as a duo in the opener in team history.
If performances like this do become the norm for Randle, then he’ll be in some elite company around the league and he’ll be leading the Knicks a lot further than he did last season.
Although Kemba Walker is now the team’s starting point guard, the Knicks still ran the offense through Randle for much of the game, and he’s proven he can continue to be a playmaker.
Garnering frequent double teams, he was able to kick the ball back out to players like Fournier and allow everyone to get involved. With many players on the team who can create their own shot, nights like the one against the Celtics can be a lot more common than they were last year.
What’s the Ceiling Here?
The Knicks were able to prove they can hang with anybody in the NBA in their double OT win, so the question is where can they go from here?
If Randle is able to keep this level of performance up and the role players can continue chipping in, the Knicks have a high ceiling. Outside of the big names, players like Obi Toppin and Mitchell Robinson showed they are ready to contribute to winning.
Coach Thibodeau made a major adjustment in the second half and benched center Jericho Sims in favor of high flying forward Toppin and it allowed the team to go on a big run and get back into the game. As a result, fans might have to get used to seeing more small-ball lineups out there because it proved to be very effective against the Celtics. Toppin will have to work on his accuracy from beyond the arc though.