The Boston Celtics were without their top seven rotation players as they took on the New York Knicks in their regular season finale Sunday afternoon.
The results reflected it, as the Knicks pulled down a 96-92 win. But not without a little drama.
Jayson Tatum (ankle impingement), Kemba Walker (cervical nerve irritation), Marcus Smart (calf contusion), Evan Fournier (knee hyperflexion), Robert Williams (turf toe) and Tristan Thompson (pectoral strain) joined Jaylen Brown on the sideline in a game of little consequence for Boston.
But the rest of the roster put up a fight. After falling behind by 21 points in the third, the Celtics used a 15-0 fourth quarter run to make it a one possession game. Multiple attempts to take the lead, however, fell short, and the Knicks got the duke.
The C’s actually led 24-23 after one quarter of play. Their opponent finally kicked it into high gear in the second, outscoring Boston 19-4 to close the half and taking a 54-39 lead headed into the locker room. They increased the lead to 21 points in the third, but took the foot off the gas as the C’s made it a game in the fourth.
The win gives the Knicks the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They will host either Atlanta or Miami in the first round.
R.J. Barrett led all scorers with 22 points. Jabari Parker had 18 for Boston, while Tremont Waters had another impressive outing with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists while leading the late charge.
The loss dropped Boston to .500, where they will finish the regular season at 36-36, their worst showing since going 40-42 back in 2014-15. The Green were a disappointing 15-21 on the road.
While the Knicks held on for the the victory, the Wizards secured the right to play Boston Tuesday on the opening night of the play-in tournament with a 115-110 win over the Hornets. The winner of the Boston/Washington matchup will be the 7-seed. That game will air on 98.5 The Sports Hub, with the start time yet to be announced.
The Pacers will host Charlotte in the other play-in game Tuesday, with the rights to the 8-seed on the line.
Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.