Joe Mazzulla takes shot at Knicks after Celtics starters fail to stop Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson put on a show!
New York Knicks, Boston Celtics
New York Knicks, Boston Celtics / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks' final road game of the 2023-24 regular season was in Boston against one of their most hated rivals. The Celtics' injury report before the game was lengthy, with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, Kristaps Porzingis, and Al Horford listed as questionable.

Derrick White was the only starter not listed, but Tatum, Brown, Holiday, Porzingis, and Horford were upgraded to available. Did that matter? No. Even without star Julius Randle, the Knicks were the better team by a mile. The Celtics had no answer for Jalen Brunson, who continued his hot streak and finished with 39 points on 15-of-23 shooting.

The Knicks' 118-109 win proved yet again that New York isn't a team you want to meet up with in the playoffs. Before Randle got hurt, fans believed the Knicks would make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and possibly even the NBA Finals. Their championship odds understandably dipped after the news Randle would undergo season-ending surgery but don't count out New York just yet.

Joe Mazzulla refers to Knicks as "highly, highly desperate" after Celtics loss

After the game, Joe Mazzulla said that Boston's last two losses came against "highly, highly desperate" teams and that he didn't mind the result.

Yes, the game didn't affect the Celtics' No. 1 seed, which they already locked in. Boston's been the best team in the East this season, so there's no use arguing that. However, what's interesting is that he described the Knicks as desperate.

On Wednesday, New York clinched a playoff berth, but the rest of the East is so tight that the Knicks aren't locked into a seed yet. Maybe that's why Mazzulla referred to the team as desperate. If desperation means doing everything possible to win basketball games, that isn't bad. Do you think a Tom Thibodeau team will step on the floor and not compete?

The second-year head coach shouldn't be sweating a loss to New York at the end of the regular season, but his mindset should be a bit worrisome to Celtics fans. Meanwhile, Thibodeau said he wasn't happy with his team's play down the stretch.

The Knicks could sweep their opponent in every round of the playoffs, but Thibodeau still wouldn't be satisfied. His mindset is part of why New York has stayed toward the top of the East, even with several injuries to key players.

Too many people assume the Celtics will make it to the ECF, but there's no guarantee that will happen. It might help if Boston was a little desperate! Surely, Mazzulla's words won't come back to haunt him.