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The Boston Celtics did exactly what they were supposed to do Saturday night at Madison Square Garden; they dominated for much of the matchup.

That's not easy, something Joe Mazzulla has repeatedly stressed. But with the New York Knicks playing without OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson, the expectation was Boston would win convincingly.

While Jalen Brunson, who registered a game-high 34 points, led a valiant effort from the hosts, their guests grounded New York's offense in the second half, holding them to 44.

The Knicks shot below 40 percent from the field, including 4/17 (23.5 percent) from beyond the arc, and committed seven turnovers in the final two frames. 

The Celtics, who lived in transition, caught fire from three-point range in the third quarter, drilling 9/13 attempts (69.2 percent). They then paired lockdown defense with relentlessly attacking the offensive glass in the last 12 minutes. They grabbed eight offensive rebounds, parlaying them into six second-chance points, to produce an anti-climactic ending.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 30 points in the visitors' 116-102 victory. He paired that with eight rebounds and three assists.

Jayson Tatum finished with 19 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block in a stat-sheet-stuffing performance. He did an excellent job of orchestrating the pick-and-roll and defending Brunson in the second half.

Kristaps Porzingis registered 22 points against his former team. He went 7/11 from the field, buried 3/4 threes, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out as many assists.

Derrick White put 13 points on the board and dished out six assists. His backcourtmate, Jrue Holiday, contributed 12 of the former and six of the latter.

Al Horford came off the bench to provide outstanding individual and team defense, rotating to cut off drives, holding his own at the perimeter, and chipping in ten points and seven rebounds.

Now for a deep dive into what stood out while the Celtics improved their NBA-leading record to 45-12, earning their eighth straight win and eighth consecutive victory on the road.

The Celtics started Saturday night's rivalry clash with a heavy dose of drop coverage, a welcome gift for Jalen Brunson, accustomed to seeing double teams rather than space to step into jump shots.

The Knicks' star guard put 13 points on the board, the most in the period, burying 5/9 attempts. He also dished out three assists.

The hosts converted on 10/20 shots, including 5/11 (45.5 percent) of their threes, but they only registered 26 points. Boston limited them to one free throw, one offensive rebound, three second-chance points, and three points off three turnovers.

Playing cleanly and protecting the ball is how the visitors were successful within the margins, allowing them to take a 30-26 edge into the second quarter.

They matched New York's ten points in the paint. They maintained an up-tempo approach, including pushing off of makes at times, and shot 61.1 percent from the floor, including 5/10 from beyond the arc.

There was also outstanding ball movement on a sequence that featured multiple drive-and-kicks, working the rock from one side to the other, and Kristaps Porzingis passing up a good look for a great one, swinging it to Jrue Holiday for a corner three.

Jaylen Brown led the C's in scoring, generating a team-high ten points in the first 12 minutes.

The Celtics' approach built them a first-half advantage that grew as large as ten but struggling to limit the Knicks to one shot per possession, surrendering six offensive rebounds and as many second-chance points, fed into a poor close to the second frame.

Despite manufacturing 26 points from within the paint and getting ten more from Brown, who entered halftime with 20, leading all scorers, the hosts registered 32 points in the period, matching Boston's output.

The chemistry between the three-time All-Star and Porzingis, the other half of Cookies and Cream, was also on display in the first half.

Brunson, the only other player besides Brown to reach double-figures, had six of those, giving him 19 at intermission, as New York narrowed the gap to four, 62-58 at the break.

In a milestone moment, Payton Pritchard, who had a productive first half, including displaying his growth running the pick-and-roll, changing pace, keeping his defender on his hip, and waiting patiently before finding Al Horford for a bucket at the basket, swiped his 100th career steal.

With the Celtics putting the clamps on Brunson in the third quarter, including Tatum and Brown locking him up when guarding him, the Knicks' offense screeched to a halt.

At the other end, the visitors, who shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first 24 minutes, had a 72.2 percent hit rate in the third frame, including faring 9/13 (69.2 percent) from three-point range. One of those misses was a Pritchard attempt from 31 feet at the buzzer.

With Boston en fuego on offense and stifling New York on the opposite side of the floor, its lead grew as large as 20. They entered the final 12 minutes with a 97-84 edge.

According to NBC Sports Boston's stats guru, Dick Lipe, the Celtics' 81.6 effective field goal percentage in the first 36 minutes is the fifth best in the NBA through three quarters in the play-by-play era (since 1996-97).

The C's kept the throttle down in the final frame. With three minutes left, New York had only put nine points on the board and was shooting 26.7 percent from the field, including 1/9 from beyond the arc. 

Between stops, forcing five turnovers, and limiting the hosts to three offensive rebounds, the visitors were able to live in transition. They paired that with a relentless attack on the glass, extending eight possessions and scoring six second-chance points.

Their dominance in the fourth quarter included emphatic rejections by Holiday and Porzingis. There was also a sequence where the former picked off a pass, and, although he didn't finish at the other end, Brown then intercepted the ball before the Knicks could get it across half-court, taking it in for two more points. 

An alley-oop from Derrick White to Porzingis served as the exclamation mark on Boston's 116-102 win at Madison Square Garden.

The Celtics now return home to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at TD Garden. That matchup will tip off at 7:30 EST.

Further Reading

Jayson Tatum Opens Up About Sacrificing in Celtics' Title Pursuit: 'It's a Process'

Kristaps Porzingis Shares How First Season with Celtics Compares to His Expectations: 'Haven't Stopped Smiling'

Jayson Tatum's Approach vs. Nets Tale of Two Halves and Steadfast Commitment

Brad Stevens Discusses Celtics' Plan for Final Roster Spot

Marcus Smart Shares How Boston Shaped Him, His Message to Celtics Fans

Celtics Maturation Molded by Experience: 'It Builds, Like, an Armor'

Jaylen Brown Quieting Doubters, Validating What He Always Believed: 'Earn Everybody's Trust'

Joe Mazzulla Discusses Identity, Evolution of Celtics' Offense: 'Balance of Pace and Execution'