The Boston Celtics are winners; they’re a well-coached, championship contender with savvy veterans and solid role players. Everything the Celtics are, the New York Knicks are not. That was ever so evident in the fourth quarter of Boston’s 96-86 win over the Knicks on Monday night. The Celtics outclassed, out-executed and out-toughed the Knicks over the final frame, and the Knicks looked like the seventh place team that they are.
You can talk about the first three quarters of the game, and how the Knicks staked themselves out to a solid double digit lead. But when the game was on the line, down the stretch, the important part of the game, the Knicks simply weren’t up to the task. You saw Amare Stoudemire complain about a missed foul call instead of running back on defense. You saw Carmelo Anthony take some ill-advised, out of flow shots. Even Chauncey Billups, the ever-so dependent leader, turn the ball over late.
And most of all, you saw a team that, down the stretch, looked completely lost in its offensive sets, and lost all discipline. Mike D’Antoni is lauded for his offensive genius. How was the Knicks’ offense in the fourth quarter with a nine point lead? How does 4-for-16 shooting sound? How about zero points over the final 3:10 of the game? Doesn’t quite sound like a team being run by an offensive genius, does it?
The Knicks showed no organization or discipline down the stretch. Boston made all the right plays. The difference was stark. The stats for this game are irrelevant. All you needed to do was watch the fourth quarter, and you saw the difference between a championship contender and a far-off pretender.