NEW YORK Courtney Lee was looking forward to a game like this - and no, we're not talking about playing without Rajon Rondo who was suspended for making contact with official Rodney Mott in Saturday's win at Atlanta.
Without Rondo, the C's paired Lee up with defensive ace Avery Bradley.
And in a game in which the Celtics made a number of game-altering moves, few seemed to have as great an impact on the outcome as the decision to put the team's top two perimeter defenders on the floor at the same time.
The score was tied at 66 with 3:36 to play in the third quarter. With Bradley and Lee on the floor, the C's were able to pull ahead by as many as six points and would never trail for the rest of the game.
"Avery and Courtney's pressure changed the game," said Boston's Kevin Garnett.
"Defense wins games," said Bradley who also chipped in a season-high 13 points. "We're starting to understand that. When we were out there, me and Courtney wanted to make it hard as possible on their guards. That's what we try to do. We try to take turns picking them up."
Pairing with Bradley was something that Lee told CSNNE.com that he has been looking forward to all season.
"Me and Avery are both guys who hang our hats on defense. Of course you never want to be without Rondo out there, but me and Avery can make it work."
They certainly did in the third quarter of Monday's game as the C's cranked up the defensive pressure to pull out the win without Rondo who was serving a one-game suspension after bumping an official in Boston's win at Atlanta on Saturday.
With or without Rondo, Lee says his approach to Monday's game was to be as aggressive as possible at both ends of the floor.
And of course, cause havoc for the Knicks guards who shot a combined 12-for-30 from the field with eight turnovers.
Both Bradley and Lee admit that defending at a high level consistently is not for the faint of heart, or those looking for a more glamorous, high profile job on the court.
"You have to grind to be a good defender; you have to love doing the dirty work, because what me and Avery do out there, it's not for everyone," Lee said. "But we both know it's what this team needs from us, in order to be successful."
Although the two haven't played much together this season, it's clear that their chemistry defensively is well ahead of schedule.
"Courtney was telling me, 'if you get tired I'll pick him up (full court),'" Bradley recalled. "That's how we were playing. You could see that out there."
What makes their brand of pressure defense unique is that unlike most teams that pressure the ball, there's a point in which it slows down.
But there doesn't appear to be a stop or pause button for these two when it comes to pressuring ball-handlers.
"Avery and Courtney's ball pressure really takes an effect on basketball teams," said Celtics big man Jared Sullinger. "Just because the guards, by the time they get past half court it's about 18 (seconds on the shot clock). But they don't stop pressuring. They still pressuring up top. That first pass on offense is (with) about 12 or 11 (seconds on the shot clock) and normal teams don't do that."