Immanuel Quickley strengthens Sixth Man of Year case in major Knicks win

Immanuel Quickley scored a career-high 38 points in a double-overtime victory over the Boston Celtics to extend the New York Knicks’ winning streak to nine games. Quickley remarkably played 55 of the possible 58 minutes with his only rest coming in the second quarter. He hit five threes while also posting eight rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.

The Knicks came into Sunday’s matchup in Boston riding a league-high eight-game winning streak, which began following the trade deadline acquisition of Josh Hart. A streak that seemed to be in jeopardy when news broke pre-game that Jalen Brunson would be out with left foot soreness. The Knicks had been 2-2 without Brunson so far this season.

I was curious to see how the Knicks’ offense would fare without Brunson whose offensive impact this season has been profound. What ensued in Sunday’s game didn’t necessarily surprise me, but it was amazing nonetheless.

Immanuel Quickley, Knicks shock Celtics in double overtime with no Jalen Brunson

Sunday’s win was really a game of runs. The Knicks got out to a quick 12-6 lead behind RJ Barrett who would end the game with 29 points. It was the Celtics, however, who dominated much of the first half behind their superstar duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who scored 40 and 29 respectively. The Celtics would close the half on an 11-0 run to put them up seven.

For awhile, it looked like the game was starting to get away from the Knicks. Down 14, struggling from three while the Celtics continued to rain down from behind the arc, Immanuel Quickley rose to the occasion. His 11 points in the third and a deep Julius Randle three-pointer to end the quarter would help re-take the lead for the Knicks going into the fourth.

Both teams had their chances to pull away, but someone always had an answer. For Boston, it was Marcus Smart and Al Horford. Both of them hit several crucial three-point shots to help keep the Celtics alive, but ultimately it was Quickley who wouldn’t be denied. He would nail a driving floater to tie the game at 113 to force double overtime. Then right out of the gate in double overtime would drain a 30-foot three-pointer as part of a stretch where he scored seven straight Knick points.

Immanuel Quickley has been the best sixth man in the league this year. Anyone who thinks differently simply hasn’t been watching, or they’re from Boston. Quickley’s ability to carry the weight of an entire team’s offense for extended stretches while also providing relentless pressure on the defensive end is second to none as far as role players go around the NBA. To think they thought about trading him earlier in the season.

By double overtime, everyone on both sides looked completely spent, especially Julius Randle. Not Quickley, though, as he smiled and skipped down the floor as the Celtics, who are a top 5 team in defensive rating this season, had no answer for him.

Mitchell Robinson when talking about Quickley’s energy said:

“He got them little dance moves. He did his thing. He was having fun. We were giving him the ball and he was getting busy.”

Obviously, there’s a lot to celebrate right now if you’re a Knicks fan. Beating the Celtics for the third time this season is a good indicator of how good this team can be and should send a message to the other top teams. Now just a game back of Cleveland for the fourth seed in the East, home-court advantage in the first round is within reach as the Knicks head back home to play the Hornets on March 7.