The New York Knicks might be announcing themselves as something more than a fun regular-season story. With a 133-131, double-overtime victory over the Celtics, on the road, without Jalen Brunson, on Sunday night, the Knicks' win streak has now reached nine games.
The Knicks, who won eight straight back in December, have now recorded two separate win streaks of at least eight games in the same season for the first time since 1972-73. Incidentally, they won the NBA title that season.
Are the Knicks legit title contenders this season? Probably not. But you can't ignore the league's No. 4 offense, which also features the seventh-best point differential. Brunson should be a top-10 MVP finisher. Julius Randle, the hero against Miami on Friday, is an All-Star and has been on a tear since the break. Josh Hart looks like the proverbial missing piece. When RJ Barrett, who went for 29 points and 11 boards on Sunday, is playing to his All-Star potential, the Knicks have a legitimate Big Three.
Knicks trio tonight:— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) March 6, 2023
38 PTS | 8 REB | 7 AST | 54% FG
31 PTS | 9 REB | 4 AST | 50% FG
29 PTS | 11 REB | 3 AST | 46% FG
9 consecutive wins. pic.twitter.com/y0vtz9MYp4
The Knicks change their pace depending on who's on the court as effectively as any team in the league. One of the guys pushing that pace is Immanuel Quickley, who started for Brunson on Sunday and might've just vaulted himself to the top of the Sixth Man of the Year race with what he did to Boston.
Quickley flat out won this game for the Knicks. As you can see above, he finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and four steals in 55 minutes.
Yeah, you read that right. Quickley played 55 minutes -- a Tom Thibodeau special -- and down the stretch of regulation and both overtime periods, he still looked like he had more energy than anyone on the floor. In all that time, he committed just one turnover. He didn't rest for one second after halftime.
After the Knicks blew a seven-point lead with under 1:30 to play in regulation, they opted to take the ball out of Quickley's hands for a Randle isolation for the final possession. It was a bad call. It was predictable and energy sucking as Quickley got anywhere he wanted to get on the court.
They didn't make that mistake again, even if they tried to at the end of the first OT.
Quickley controlled both overtime periods, assisting Hart for a monster corner 3-pointer after Marcus Smart had opened the first overtime with a 3 for the Celtics, who were seemingly about to seize control. Quickley then hit the floater with 13 seconds remaining which sent the game to a second OT.
WE HAVE DOUBLE OVERTIME IN BOSTON 🚨— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 6, 2023
Immanuel Quickley nails the clutch floater to tie the game 🪣pic.twitter.com/9BtZhDHIZm
You'll see that play started with another Randle iso, but he could not get a shot off and had to give it up to Quickley, a fortuitous development for the Knicks that should've been avoided by just giving it to Quickley, to begin with.
We all know Randle has been awesome this season, particularly as an isolation scorer, and yes, he's been shooting the lights out from 3 since the All-Star break. But this was Quickley's game. Anybody watching could see that, which begs the question: What game was Thibodeau watching?
Nonetheless, all's well that ends well, and this ended well because of Quickley, who, after sending the game to double overtime, then scored the first five points of the deciding period. First, with a 30-footer:
Immanuel Quickley 30-foot three pointer#Knicks 124 #Celtics 121 2ᴏᴛ pic.twitter.com/2X79tkAMh0— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) March 6, 2023
On the next possession, he rejected the ball screen and caught Grant Williams flatfooted as he bolted down a wide-open alley.
IMMANUEL QUICKLEY TAKEOVER 🗣️— NBA (@NBA) March 6, 2023
36 PTS. KNICKS LEAD BY 3 IN 2OT.
📺: Live on ESPN pic.twitter.com/EPCWW1bokS
Once the Knicks had that lead, they never lost it in the second OT. An absolutely breathtaking game by both sides, but especially by Quickley and the Knicks, who are turning from a good story into a legitimate playoff threat right in front of our eyes.