The Celtics didn’t need Rajon Rondo to beat the Knicks at MSG on Thursday; they only needed to get inside Carmelo Anthony’s head.
Kevin Garnett did so masterfully, and Anthony shot a miserable 6-of-26 from the field which helped the Celtics come away with a critical road victory against one of the top teams in the East.
Rondo was suspended for making contact with an official in Boston’s win over the Hawks on Saturday.
Garnett and Anthony were doing plenty of jawing up until this point, but after a battle in the post when the talking continued, the referees finally stepped in and whistled both for double technical fouls.
Garnett’s reputation is that of a physical player who will say literally anything on the court to get his opponents off of their game, and Anthony, quite simply, took the bait on this night.
Anthony knows full well that Garnett might talk a big game, but that he won’t engage in anything physical, no matter how crazy the verbal sparring might get. Anthony felt he had license to go after Garnett verbally, and that might have been true. But it distracted him enough to the point where his game was affected, and that’s all that Boston needed to come out of this one with a much-needed victory.