Is there reason for optimism after the Knicks heartbreaking 87-85 Game 1 loss to the Boston Celtics? Absolutely. Amare Stoudemire played like the MVP candidate he was during the first half of the season, there were signs of life on defense, and Carmelo Anthony gave far from his best effort and the Knicks were still inches away from victory.
Regardless, the bottom line is that they are down 1-0 and Chauncey Billups isn't going to play in Game 2. Boston isn't going to be caught off-guard any more in this series, they are now fully aware of how the Knicks stack up against them. It is nice that the Knicks played them tough on Boston's home floor, but in the playoffs you can't give away 12-point leads in the second half, you can't afford to lose games when you are winning by three with less than a minute left. In the playoffs, you have to win close games, which is something the Knicks have been beyond inconsistent at all season.
There is no time for the Knicks to hang their heads about their loss Sunday night. They need to walk away with confidence, knowing that they belong on the same floor as the Celtics but more importantly they need to walk away angry at themselves for letting game one slip away. (They could also have some anger at the officials over that horrible offensive foul on Carmelo Anthony late in the game...this is the playoffs, let them play regardless of how much Paul Pierce is acting).
Madison Square Garden is going to be rocking Friday night whether the Knicks are tied up 1-1 or down 2-0 but that doesn't mean the Knicks shouldn't be feeling a must win mentality tomorrow night. The odds will be stacked against them, especially with Billups out of the line-up but chances are the game will be there for taking again in the final minutes, this time the Knicks need to answer the call.