Knicks Should Feel Confident Ahead of Game 2

It’s hard for the the Knicks to wake up after Sunday night’s crushing loss and think positively in any way. But they should. After last night’s game, Carmelo Anthony said it right: the Celtics didn’t really do anything special. They won a game at home, something they’re supposed to do. Sure, they executed down the stretch, and Doc Rivers drew up some excellent plays. But let’s not kid ourselves, the Celtics were fortunate. Think of it this way:

Anthony played a minute and a half in the first quarter. For the game, he had 15 points and went 1-of-11 from the field in the second half. Chauncey Billups wasn’t great, struggling from 3-point range. Toney Douglas, aside from his big three-pointer late in the game, struggled offensively with just eight points. Still, the Celtics, the world champions they are, needed a horrendous foul call and a three (essentially) at the buzzer to win.

A lot of people are saying that Amare Stoudemire should have seen the ball in the last two minutes. That’s correct. However, the only time Stoudemire should have really deserved the ball was after Garnett’s dunk, when Anthony was called for the ludicrous offensive foul. Anthony was ice cold, and maybe the right play was to get Stoudemire the ball and see if he could drive, and get to the line. But hey, Garnett would have been all over Stoudemire, and Amare may have been called for an offensive foul, too. Not too crazy given the call on Anthony. Other than that, what was wrong with Toney Douglas’ three right before the Garnett dunk? Was Stoudemire supposed to get the ball then?

The final Knicks possession, which has been publicly scrutinized, is a tough one to really criticize. The Knicks didn’t have a timeout (which many want to say is a terrible job on D’Antoni’s part, but some coaches wouldn’t have called a timeout there even with a time out as it allows the defense to set up). Either way, the dagger had already been twisted on Allen’s three, and while it wasn’t a great shot by Anthony, it’s hard to imagine Stoudemire was really going to get a much better look against Garnett, who would have been allowed to maul him and not get called for a foul.

The taste is sour. The Knicks did let a golden opportunity slip away. Pending the health of Chauncey Billups, the Knicks aren’t out of this series. If they continue to play as hard as they did on the defensive end, they will stay in each game. Anthony will be better too, way better. When he is, the outcome could be different.

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