Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Tonight's Loss, Knicks Prove They Can Beat Celtics

Like gladiators in the Roman arena, the Knicks battled as if their lives depended on winning tonight. They fought a superior foe through an incredible, blood, sweat and gut check game before falling in the final seconds by three points.

Carmelo Anthony, the Knick's Spartacus, had himself, one of the greatest nights in Knicks history, but with only backup caliber teammates around him, he could only do so much, and when surrounded, did the right thing in deferring to his less talented teammates.

After losing two of their three best players, the New York Knicks stood toe to toe with the five Boston Celtics starters at full strength and gave them hell. But in the end, the Knicks inexperience, and mental errors cost them a game they had already won.

Winning by one point, with 19.8 seconds left, after Jared Jeffries made an unexpected layup, the Knicks did not double Chris Rock's "man", Kevin Garnett, who worked his way inside vs. Jeffries to take a five foot shot. Instead, Carmelo Anthony and Toney Douglas, both within a few feet of the Boston Power Forward, elected to leave Garnett one on one with Jeffries. Their choice resulted in a basket for Boston putting the Celtics up by one.

The Knicks then went on offense, but the offensively challenged Jeffries stayed in the game, and ended up throwing a weak pass to Bill Walker under the basket. Garnett stole the ball  away, called time out, and the Knicks were left with one final chance.

They would have to foul and worst case scenario, take a three point shot with 2-3 seconds left. But Carmelo, already exhausted from playing the entire second half, did not follow MILFer Delonte West into the backcourt. West ran out the clock leaving only .6 seconds left, and hit both free throws to ice the win for Boston by three points, 96-93.

But through all of this epic struggle, the Knicks can see that they can beat the Celtics. In both games on the road, with key players injured in both losses, the Knicks took the Celtics to the final buzzer.

No one expected the Knicks to play like this. They have out-played and out-hustled the Celtics, but at crucial moments, have made costly mental errors that caused them to lose both games. Bad decisions, bad choices, and bad defense...

In game one, leaving Garnett open for that late layup from the inbounds play...

Confusion on guarding Ray Allen, the most prolific 3-point shooter in the game. He is the ONE player you can never leave open...

In game two, again leaving Allen open time after time...

The costly choice not to double team Garnett on his final shot...

Jeffries' weak pass, allowing Garnett to steal it away...

And more...

Still, in both games, the Knicks were not at full strength for either ending, and took the Celtics to the final buzzer on the road...

I believe the Knicks could have won one of those games had they been at full strength. In my playoff matchup post last week, I stated that if the Knicks were to have a chance in this series, they would have to:

1. Out-play and out-hustle the Celtics...
Check, except for most of the second half in game one, which is why they lost that game.

2. Out-rebound the Celtics...

3. Box out...
Sporadic results here, because D'Antoni doesn't seem to teach this very well. A new coach should do the trick.

4. Run the Celtics off the court...
Knicks have done a good job of playing up-tempo and have moved the ball around well, but...

5. Show mental toughness and play smart...
They lost game one because of mental errors, and the same for game two. Inexperience is the cause here, and there is nothing to be done about that, except having Billups and Stat in there with Anthony.

If the Knicks can learn fast, they can still win this series, but if they continue to have these mental lapses, they could be swept.

I believe that the Knicks will, out of sheer determination, bring home victories in game three and four to tie the series.

If I am wrong, expect a quick exit, but if I am right, then I may be wrong... in my pre-playoff prediction of Celtics in six.

ps- I'm not saying no to Carmelo anymore...:)


  1. Good stuff Michael. I'm not so sure I agree that the Knicks have done a good job pushing the tempo though. They only had 2 fast break points in Game 1, and both games were clearly played at the Celtics' pace for the most part. They're the ones that have been getting out in transition more often too (especially Rondo, who just gets free layups). Keep up the good work.

  2. They looked good all things considered, but I think they actually proved that they will find a way to lose to the Celtics ultimately in these games.

  3. Jared,
    True dat, however they did effectively whip the ball around to find the open man, so the ball movement was there (mostly). Definitely could improve though, for sure. Love your work as well Jared. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Pastrami,
    Way to keep it positive...:)
    Well, we'll see. I think it all hinges on the health of the big three. Seeing Amare and Chauncey at 100% hopefully will change your mind, eh?
    Thanks for writing and keep up the good work on your blog as well.

  5. I know that it sounds negative, but was meant in more of a "realistic" tone. This is what analysts are talking about (imo) when they refer to playoff experience.

    If Chauncey were still in his prime this Knicks line-up could really do something. He has always inspired his teams to hustle and play great defense.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Agreed, Of the big three, only Carmelo played all 3 games. I said that all 3 needed to play at the top of their games, but one didn't even play, period.
    No chance, and it showed...Wait till next year!