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New York Knicks fans have been waiting 10 years for a playoff victory.
The Boston Celtics’ stars badly outplayed the Knicks’ as Boston opened up a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven series and have put the Knicks on the brink. Rajon Rondo had a triple double, and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce had lights out nights as the Celtics defeated the Knicks, 113-96.
The Madison Square Garden crowd that was so fired up for playoff basketball was quieted instantly, as the Celtics defended like hell and jumped out to a 22-5 lead. Thanks to the play of their bench, including offense provided by Bill Walker and Shawne Williams, the Knicks were able to cut into the Celtics lead. Still, the first half was owned by the Celtics, with their stars stepping up. While Carmelo Anthony had just 12 points in the first half and Amare Stoudemire was essentially invisible, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett all enjoyed good openings to the game. Pierce took the first quarter, and Allen’s deadly three-point shooting continued, bedeviling the Knicks defense throughout the first 24 minutes.
And that was really it. Because the third quarter belonged completely to the Celtics, who played with the Knicks and led by 23 heading into the fourth quarter. The Knicks simply didn’t show up in Game 3, and for a team lacking in talent, they had zero chance.
Let’s face it. In any sport when you’re trying to pull an upset, you really need to be completely healthy. This series ended when Chauncey Billups got hurt in Game 1. Even if Anthony’s Game 2 heroics got the Knicks a win, without Billups and an effective Stoudemire, the Knicks had no chance. The Knicks simply aren’t talented enough for this time of year, especially with two of their top three players hurt. Without Billups and Stoudemire (who essentially was useless in Game 3), the Knicks sorely lack talent. When a team like the Celtics played as well as it did tonight, a team with the likes of Walker, Williams, Jared Jeffries and Roger Mason simply has no chance. The only reason the Knicks had a prayer in Game 2 was because of Anthony, and he was nowhere near his Game 2 level tonight.
Knicks fans have been waiting 10 years for a playoff victory. It looks like they’ll have to wait until 2012 for the next one.
[Note by Ed Valentine, 04/22/11 5:48 PM EDT: Chauncey Billups will not play. Still no decision on Amare Stoudemire. ]
After seven years, playoff basketball is back at Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately for the Knicks, it may not last very long.
That’s all up to tonight, Game 3 of the New York Knicks first round series against the Boston Celtics. It’s a virtual must-win for New York, who everybody knows can’t afford to go down in a 3-0 hole and have any realistic chance of advancing past Boston. The Knicks should have the services of Amare Stoudemire, who left Game 2 in the second quarter with back spasms and never returned. In Stoudemire’s absence, Carmelo Anthony put on one of the great playoff performances in Knicks history in Game 2, scoring 42 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in a losing effort. Once again, it was the Celtics’ fourth quarter execution that was the difference.
It seems like every game between these two teams this season have played out exactly the same. The Knicks hole a late lead, only to see one or two plays in the final minutes go Boston’s way, and the Celtics sneak out with a win. The late game follies by the Knicks has to be weighing on them, despite all the positive speak coming from their camp. The Knicks best chance to beat the Celtics may actually be to win comfortably, by double digits, rendering the final minute or two of the game meaningless. That will be tough to do.
New York may be without Chauncey Billups for the second straight game. If he’s out, the Knicks will once again depend on Toney Douglas to run the point, and the Knicks will once again need good performances from their bench and their role players, as they did in Game 2. Can Jared Jeffries, despite his late turnover in Game 2, play as well as he did on Tuesday night? Can Ronny Turiaf stay healthy and give the Knicks solid minutes? It can’t all fall on Anthony again, and while Stoudemire should be around this time, the Knicks will need good efforts to topple a Celtics team that is either, based on its first two performances, done as a championship contender or hasn’t hit their stride yet. Tonight may go a long way to determining that.
The Knicks defense has been very solid in the first two games of this series, but both obviously came in losing efforts. That’s a bad sign for the Knicks. All year the Knicks have struggled to maintain defensive effort from game to game, and you get a sense that they’re almost due for a poor defensive performance. How they play defensively tonight will be a telling sign as to whether this team finally understands the defensive intensity needed, or if they just had a few good games.
It looks like the New York Knicks will have at least one of their two injured stars back in the lineup Friday night for Game 3 of their NBA playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Reports indicate that forward Amare Stoudemire "should be ready," while point guard Chauncey Billups is less certain with a strained left knee.
The Knicks will be hosting their first playoff game at Madison Square Garden since 2004 when they host Boston on Friday. The two excruciating losses at TD Garden have them in a 2-0 hole, and mean New York has still not won a playoff game since the 2001 season.
"We’re still confident. As they say, and everybody says, it doesn’t start until somebody wins on the other guy’s court," Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. "They held service. We’ve got to go Friday and I’m sure it’s going to be a great atmosphere and Amare should be ready and that right there is going to be all out. And I think our heads are high and the locker room is good and they’re confident, and I can’t wait until Friday."
The Knicks need at least Stoudemire healthy and productive if they are to have a real chance to get back in the series. They will also need to find a way to execute at the end of games. New York led both games late only to watch Boston make all the clutch plays.
Two games, five points, and plenty of pain for the New York Knicks
The New York Knicks, in their heart of hearts, do not believe they can beat the Boston Celtics. Once again, the Knicks hd a lead late in the fourth quarter, and couldn’t hold on, losing 96-93 to the Celtics in Game 2, putting their season on the brink. Carmelo Anthony put on one of the great postseason performances in Knicks history, scoring 42 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. He had to be that good; Chauncey Billups did not play, and Amare Stoudemire left the game in the first half with back spasms.
The Knicks took a late 93-92 lead on Jared Jeffries’, yes you read that correctly, layup. But on the ensuing possession, Jeffries had to guard Kevin Garnett, who backed him down and made a jump hook with 13 seconds left. With the game on the line, Anthony was double-teamed and fed Jeffries, who tried to lay the ball off to Bill Walker under the hook. Garnett stole the pass and called timeout, but the Knicks were still alive. The next play is the one that Mike D’Antoni has to explain. With four seconds left, the Celtics inbounded the ball to Delonte West in the backcourt, and Anthony seemed unaware that he had to foul West immediately. West was finally fouled with 0.6 seconds left, and he hit his two free throws to seal the win.
It was another excruciating loss for the Knicks, who now have to win four out of five games to advance. Simply put, the Knicks need to beat the Celtics comfortably, because the late-game futility has to be in their heads at this point. The Knicks will return home for Game 3, where a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd will be awaiting them. It’s a must-win, but honestly, it’s tough to see the Knicks coming back from these two incredibly rough losses.
On a personal note, I would be incredibly shocked if the Celtics made any kind of serious run in this postseason. Unless they are simply going through the motions, this team looks old and slow. For three quarters, the Knicks had Anthony and the likes of Toney Douglas, Jeffries, Walker, Roger Mason, Ronny Turiaf and Shawne Williams in the game, with Stoudemire and Billups out. Sans Anthony, that team would struggle to win 10 games in an entire NBA season.
My early prediction, and I thought this would be the case regardless of what the series score was coming back, is that the Knicks will win Game 3. They’ll be fired up, the Garden will be rocking, and they will have the benefit of the whistle. Plenty of time until then, though. The Knicks should be proud of their valiant effort. Anthony put the team on his back, and if they had just a little more talent out there, this series would be all even. For now, the Knicks are again heartbroken.
The New York Knicks will look Tuesday night to wash the bad taste out of their mouth from their heartbreaking Game 1 loss in Boston. Unfortunately, they will have to do it without starting point guard Chauncey Billups, who will sit out tonight with a strained left knee. Toney Douglas will step into the lineup for Billups, along with Anthony Carter likely seeing a bump in minutes.
Boston will still be without center Shaquille O'Neal who was replaced admirably by Jermaine O'Neal in Game 1, as he badly hurt the Knicks front line on the offensive glass and with his second chance points. Ronny Turiaf, Amare Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony all need to do a better job of boxing out and controlling the paint.
Anthony will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing Game 1 effort, which ended with him missing a potential game-winning shot. The Knicks need Anthony to play like the superstar that he is if the they want any chance to pull off this upset. Stoudemire is coming off a terrific effort, where many people believe he should have received even more touches down the stretch in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks two stars divide up attacking the rim tonight, especially without Billups on the floor.
Douglas has had a very good season for the Knicks but he is ready to play 35-40 minutes as the point guard in a playoff game? The answer to that question will go a long to determining whether or not the Knicks can even up the series tonight.
Expect another close, hard fought game. Hopefully, the Knicks learned their lesson from Game 1 and will close out the Celtics late if they have a chance.