1st Quarter: The Knicks just did not have any offense going to open the game. In a game where JR Smith’s absence was blamed for many of the Knicks’ faults, the lack of offense in the early going had little to do with the lack of JR. The Celtics came into this game with more energy and actually looked like a competent offensive team, hitting a bunch of outside jumpers. After the Knicks went down 12-5 early, it seemed they began to press a little bit, with a myriad of uncharacteristic turnovers. Not helping was Carmelo Anthony’s 0-6 start, a trend that would continue later in the first half. The loss of JR began to hurt the Knicks at this point, as Melo began forcing jumpers left and right, feeling a need to score more without the Knicks’ second scorer. The Knicks offense became very one dimensional; when Melo made consecutive shots to end the quarter including a banker and-one with just seconds left in the quarter, the Knicks were only down 5. The score, 22-17 Boston, was certainly a fortunate score considering how badly they played offensively. Thumbs to Steve Novak, forced to play first quarter minutes, for a pump fake so good, two Celtics fell for it (he unfortunately missed the shot, however).
2nd Quarter: The game really got out of hand for the Knicks in the 2nd quarter. This was the first time the Knicks tangibly missed JR Smith, as the Knicks started the quarter a questionable lineup of Prigioni-Kidd-Richardson(?)-Novak-Martin. Why Chris Copeland was not playing in the 2nd quarter is beyond me. The Celtics pushed their lead to double digits with this lineup before Woodson reinserted Melo to try to right the ship. Except Melo did the opposite. The offense stalled more than ever with Melo taking contested jumper after contested jumper, missing most of them and complaining for foul calls. He even had five turnovers, an unusual development for the Knicks superstar. The Knicks had some beef with the refs, especially on one particular play where Chandler got an and-one put back and the refs called the foul before the shot and a technical on Woodson (a 4 point swing), but the real problem was the uncharacteristic offense. The Knicks somehow stayed within striking distance, despite the ineptitude on the offense end, until the last few minutes. The Knicks ended the half as poor as they could, with Pierce hitting contested threes and Green running all over the Knicks in transition. A steal by Bradley on the inbound leading to a Pierce three and the Celtics were suddenly up 19 at half.
3rd Quarter: The Knicks played much better defense in the third quarter, even before they made a run. At least it seemed that way. Maybe it was because the Celtics were hitting an unsustainable number of jumpers (for them) in the first half. Melo shot a little better in the third and the Knicks cut the lead slightly. They probably could have cut the lead more if Pablo Prigioni took some of the wide open threes the Celtics were giving him. Doc Rivers is a great coach, and it seems the Celtics were taking advantage of Pabl’s hesitation to shoot. Still, Prigioni was very valuable in moving the ball and defensively. Notably, Prigioni stole the ball on the inbounds before getting fouled hard by Jason Terry (initially ruled a flagrant). The Knicks got the better of some rough calls to put the Celtics (particularly KG and Bass) to put the Celtics in foul trouble. The foul trouble allowed the Knicks to go small, really small when Melo left the game. The lineup of Felton-Prigioni-Kidd-Shumpert-Martin went on a huge run with Felton as the catalyst, scoring 16 in the quarter on 5-8 shooting including a buzzer beating three to put the Knicks within 3 going into the final quarter.
4th Quarter: The Knicks stuck with the four guard lineup to begin the fourth and it continued to pay off when Prigioni got a steal and an easy layup which he inexplicably passed up to try and draw an and-one and subsequently got blocked. The offense stalled again before Melo was reinserted. And when Melo came back in, the Knicks stopped moving the ball… again. The Knicks grinded out some tough defense, led by Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert (who had a banner game with excellent defense and twelve rebounds), enough to overcome the offensive ineptitude. The Knicks tied the game on an Iman Shumpert three (on a great Melo pass) and a Melo driving layup with 3:33 remaining. The last three minutes were filled with bad shooting and isolations for both teams. While the Celtics couldn’t buy a shot, the Knicks ran isolation after isolation. Carmelo Anthony, a normally clutch player, missed about 5 or 6 clutch shots, a few of which were wide open. He even missed consecutive free throws at one point. When the Knicks finally ran a pick and roll, Felton nailed a twenty foot jumper to give the Knicks their first lead. But it was short-lived as KG missed a clutch 17 footer. After Melo and Pierce traded misses, the game went into overtime.
Overtime: The overtime period was very apropos of what the story of this game will be. After the teams traded buckets for the first three minutes, Jason Terry took over the game. While the Knicks ran some horrible offensive sets, Terry scored 9 points in 2 minutes. It was certainly some retribution for Terry, who has basically contributed nothing all season and was the player who took the elbow from JR Smith that made Game 4 competitive. The Celtics won the game 97-90 to stay alive and force game 5 in MSG.
Raymond Felton deserves praise for his outstanding performance. While the Knicks were without their second best scorer and their best scorer was having an all-time bad performance (more on that later), Felton stepped up and carried the Knicks back in the game. He has been outstanding the entire series, and is realistically the difference between these two teams.Also deserving credit goes to Iman Shumpert who played an excellent game, especially late. I find myself disappointed that Shumpert never gets a chance to play in crunch time, and sometimes find myself wondering if he should play late in games over Jason Kidd, who contributed very little today. Shump certianly backed that up. Tyson Chandler also looked much better defensively in this game; he needs to get more involved in the offense however.
Now onto the story of this game: Carmelo Anthony. Obviously, this game does not define his legacy, but Melo certainly gave his critics some great material to work without. Melo could not hit an outside shot the entire night and consistently stalled the offense. It is one thing to struggle shooting, but many of his shots were outside the flow of the offense. Anthony seemed to be psyching himself out or something, whether it was due to the chance to sweep or absence of JR Smith, remains unclear. He even had 7 turnovers, something that puts him in an infamous category. Since 1985-86, no player has ever had 35 or more field goal attempts with 10 or less makes and 7 or more turnovers. It is not bashing Melo to say this game was historically bad. From a purely statistical standpoint, it was.
So, yeah, the Celtics picked up a win and extended the series.It took Melo having his worst game this season and JR being suspended for them to do it, but the Celtics beat the Knicks. It’s too early to assume the Knicks will win game 5; the Knicks offense has been off the entire season. However, it is just as unreasonable to suggest that the Celtics are suddenly “back”. You don’t want to give a team like the Celtics new life, but nothing nothing that happened today suggests the Celtics can beat the Knicks three games in a row. If the Knicks play like this again on Wednesday, then we might have a series. For now, let’s just call this game an outlier.
Thanks in part to the frequently injured status of Amare Stoudemire, Mike Woodson has been forced to be very creative in his approach to lineup building this season. Using the talent pool available to him, he’s completely twisted the traditional point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center lineup into something uniquely special and effective. This has been especially challenging, due to the ever changing pool of available players on the team, but by the end of the season he’d found and shaped something special. The dilemma comes from trying to find a place for Steve Novak in this new Knickerbocker vision, or for that matter, Stoudemire, if and when he makes it back from injury.
Point Guard: Raymond Felton, JR Smith. New York starts a fairly traditional point guard in Felton. His job is to run pick and rolls, drive and score, drive and kick and stick the occasional three. If he can defend one of the other team’s guards reasonably well, so much the better. For most of the season, no one on the team seemed able to duplicate this role and the team struggled when Felton was playing hurt or not playing at all. Not only is Felton healthy now, Smith seems to have figured out that he should prioritize attacking the basket. While Smith is not considered one of the team’s point guards per say, when he’s on the floor and Felton isn’t, he’s the one that has been filling Felton’s role of bringing the ball up the court and attacking the basket. While Smith is obviously more of a scorer than a passer, Woodson seems to like having his point man be one of his primary scorers supporting Carmelo Anthony.
Shooting Guard: Pablo Prigioni, Jason Kidd. Woodson prefers to have two point guards on the floor whenever possible, which may be one of the reasons that New York had the fewest turnovers in the NBA this season. Since neither Kidd nor Prigioni have the ability to attack the rim that Felton and Smith have, they’ve played the role of off guard, helping facilitate the offense with their passing from the perimeter while spreading the floor with their three-point shooting. Another benefit of having Kidd or Prigioni on the floor all the time is their defensive acumen, which leads to numerous turnovers by the opposing team, often in the form of steals.
Small Forward: Iman Shumpert, JR Smith. Another reason why the Knicks have so few turnovers is instead of playing with two forwards, they play with three guards. Shumpert is versatile enough defensively to defend forwards and he can even rebound like one on occasion. His primary roles are to defend the opposition’s best perimeter player, provide a three point threat and occasionally attack the rim. One of the reasons Smith is the Sixth Man of the Year is his ability to fill multiple roles off the bench. In the fourth quarter when Felton and Kidd are manning the backcourt, Smith plays this role. While not quite the defender that Shumpert is, he makes up for it on the offensive end and by being an even better rebounder. Ronnie Brewer started the season filling this exact role, but as his play fell off and Shumpert returned from injury, he was sent to the end of the bench.
Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Copeland. Using Melo at power forward is one of the biggest keys to the Knicks’ success on the offensive end this season. By having an elite perimeter player at the four, New York has opened up the paint for their pick and roll game which is a major part of their offense. Not only do Smith and Felton have extra room to attack the basket, but Melo gets mismatches which forces double teams and opens up New York’s options further. Having Melo or Copeland on the floor at the four gives them a primary scorer and makes it almost impossible for the opposition to prevent at least one of New York’s now four shooters from getting an open look from behind the arc. Melo’s transformation into an elite three-point shooter this season while playing the four has been a major part of why New York led the league in three-point attempts and makes. Unfortunately for Woodson’s lineup preferences, after a terrific regular season, Copeland has played so poorly in the playoffs that Woody was forced to use Novak at the four in game three instead.
Center: Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin. The role of the five for the Knicks is to backstop the defense, participate in the pick and roll with Felton and grab rebounds. With only one real big man on the floor at a time for New York, it’s critical that he be able to defend the rim/paint and rebound. By having the five be the screen and roller, it gives him an important role on the offensive end, while the rest of the team can be trying to get open from behind the arc. Rasheed Wallace filled this role behind Chandler at the beginning of the season, but fortunately for New York after most of their bigs got hurt, they discovered Martin, who has done an incredible job of filling this role off the bench.
So, Woodson has found a unique combination of roles that works well with his personnel and has enabled the Knicks to become an elite team. The problem is this carefully crafted system doesn’t really have a place for two highly paid forwards: Steve Novak and Amare Stoudemire.
Novak is a good enough three-point shooter to play the three or the four, but he’s not a good enough ball handler. Not only does Woodson use the three as an extra ball handler, he frequently has Melo bring the ball up the court and he runs isolations through Melo and even on occasion, Copeland. While big enough to play the five for New York, Novak doesn’t have the necessary skill set to be the primary defender in the paint. Frankly, other than being a terrific three point shooter, Novak brings very little to the table.
Last season, that was enough. Last season, Novak led the league shooting 47% from deep, while no one else on the team shot even 35% from three. Novak provided the team with essential and amazingly accurate three-point shooting. This season is much different. This season, Novak’s long range shooting is down to 42% and he’s one of eight Knickerbockers shooting 35% or better. While 42% is still quite good, Novak’s lone skill set is now being duplicated by several other players, all of whom bring lots of other things to the table. While the threat of Novak’s shooting helps spread the floor when he’s on the court, so does the threat provided by the Knicks’ other fours: Melo (38%) and Copeland (42%). If Copeland continues to be unable to work through the playoff jitters Novak may get some minutes this post-season, but his role with the team going forward is definitely in question.
This brings us to Stoudemire. Amare has a skill set that no one else on the team has: the ability to be a superior low post scorer. Unfortunately, Woodson has been forced to design an offense that not only doesn’t need a low post scorer, it may operate better without one. Woodson’s system requires the four to be a three-point shooter and the five to be a superior defender and rebounder. None of these things describe Stoudemire. Given STAT’s overall talent level and the team’s investment in him, I’m sure Woody will make some use of him when he gets healthy. I’m just not sure if that will be in the best interests of the team’s success, based on their performances this season.
Tonight, the NBA has announced that J.R. Smith has been suspended for game four of the Knicks v. Celtics first round series. The play the NBA suspended J.R. Smith for can be seen below.
I disagree with the NBA’s decision, but, with the series currently sitting at 3-0, one could see this coming from a mile away. I still think the Knicks can win the fourth and final game, even without Smith, as the team still completely outmatches the Celtics.
Now, I just hope J.R. Smith live tweets the game, just as Kobe did for game one of the Lakers’ series.
The last time New York was up three games to nothing in a playoff series, a series only consisted of five games back in 2000, against the Toronto Raptors. New York has displayed stellar defense throughout the series, including tonight with a 90-76 victory over the Boston Celtics.
As soon as it seemed to begin going in New York’s favor, the foot remained on the petal for the rest of the first half, holding the Celtics to 31 points after two quarters of basketball. Pablo Prigioni gave the starting lineup an enormous lift out of the gate and has a definite impact on the game now that he is healthy, which has been displayed all throughout April. Prigs hit three three-pointers in the first half finishing the game with nine points, while preventing the ball from sticking on anyone for too long.
Boston opened the game with momentum, as expected, but the Knicks didn’t let the Celtics hang around for long leading by five after the first, and 47-31 by halftime. Anthony did struggle starting the game, but not for long going 7-12 in the second half after 5-13 in the first. Paul Pierce has steadily disappeared throughout the series, and continued to be invisible tonight, shooting 40% from the field. If you ask me, tonight was the nail in the coffin of the big Pierce-Garnett era in Boston.
Kevin Garnett quietly grabbed 17 rebounds in 34 minutes, way more of an impact than he’s had in the first two games. But Boston hasn’t been able to get any consistency out of any of their players in the same game. 17 turnovers also didn’t help out an offensive-depleted Celtics team that surrendered 11 fast break points. JR Smith was ejected on a flagrant two foul five minutes into the fourth quarter for elbowing Jason Terry in the head. Smith finished with 15 points in 24 minutes. Steve Novak looked like he finally learned how to hit a shot in playoff basketball with two difficult three pointers; we even got the see the Discount Triple Check in a playoff game! When reserves like Novak are able to contribute, the Knicks are extremely difficult to beat.
The Knicks will look to complete their first sweep since 2000 Sunday afternoon. A sweep of the Boston Celtics would mark the beginning of a new era in the Atlantic Division. Boston’s core is aged, while the rest of their team is covered by inexperienced youth. It would also give a HUGE momentum boost to New York heading into a probable second round matchup vs. Indiana. The practice time and rest between a quick round could be the perfect time to implement Amar’e Stoudemire into the rotation for the second round, assuming he stands where he tells us he is health-wise. I’m sure the Knicks aren’t even looking that far ahead from what they’ve displayed this year.
From Madison Square Garden, to TD Bank Garden, game three tonight is not going to be any stroll in the park, or should we say garden. Carmelo Anthony and company are prepared for a hostile environment and rejuvenated Boston squad playing at home for the first time since the Boston marathon bombings a little less than two weeks ago. The Celtics should have their work cut out for them again, especially on the offensive end, where they have produced a total of only 48 points in two-second halves against New York. Through the first two games for the Knicks, the level of intensity on defense is reminiscent of November when it was difficult for teams to put up 90 points. And this was without Kenyon Martin. So, there is a great deal to look forward to tonight as we get ready for an 8:00pm est. tipoff, lets give some of the essential factors in tonight’s matchup a rundown.
Keep an eye on Tyson Chandler who is working towards getting his legs back underneath himself. Chandler was beginning to look back in form down the stretch of game two with a big block on Avery Bradley, but still looks a little out of place on offense. I’m looking for Tyson to make himself more of a factor tonight in the pick & roll to help free up the perimeter if the defense decides to collapse on a rolling Chandler.
Doc Rivers is sick of the officiating so far, especially with Kevin Garnett. The NBA recently hit Doc with a $25,000 fine after game two for criticizing the referees. Rivers is a coaching wizard and the Knicks are probably just as aware of that. Expect adjustments from the Celtics to try and get Garnett going in this series. Although, there is speculation Garnett is playing through some pain, so could we see fewer minutes tonight for KG?
Paul Pierce is a different animal at home, and will carry the entire workload if Garnett gets caught in foul trouble once again. Pierce has presented an interesting mismatch for New York, who is being guarded by a smaller Raymond Felton. However, Felton does a great job of fighting over screens to harass Pierce and at most, slows down an extremely efficient scorer. The Celtics’ success tonight will be measured by how well their bench can play. Bench players are found to be more comfortable at home, so the Knicks should be prepared to keep scoring droughts and fast breaks to a minimum.
A little more scoring wouldn’t hurt. Steve Novak and Chris Copeland have each played about six to eight meaningful minutes in games one and two, but have essentially been non factors. A positive five minutes from each resulting in a few three pointers could be the difference in a close game on the road. Boston will try to keep the tempo exactly where it’s been, and the crowd will get into it early. Stealing tonight’s game from under the Celtics would presumably end the series going up three games to nothing, a deficit yet to be overcome by any NBA team. It would also make the burden of taking one game on the road less heavy, still being able to come back home and win the series in New York, if the series gets that far.
The last playoff game played against Boston, in Boston, Carmelo Anthony scored 42 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a loss for the Knicks. Hopefully the output remains the same, but we can reverse the outcome. At least this year there’s no Jared Jefferies to attempt a game wining layup for us.
Games 1 and 2 of the Knicks-Celtics series has shown the best sneakers by some of your favorite players. Between Carmelo Anthony’s brand spanking new Air Jordan Melo M9 Playoff Edition to the back-to-back appearances of the throwback Air Jordan 2, 5, and 8 unearthed by Quentin Richardson, pure sneaker gold has been touching the floor of Madison Square Garden. The only footwear possibly giving them some competition are Spike Lee’s custom Knicks-inspired Cole Haan shoes. Okay, maybe that’s like comparing apples to oranges. The Knickerbocker signature colorways are strong with this group though. Check out our roundup below and leave a comment with your favorite from the past two playoff games.
The New York Knicks will head up to Boston with a 2-0 lead over the Celtics. For the second straight game, the Knicks used a big second half, highlighted by stingy defense and efficient offense, to put the Celtics away, and seal the victory. After withstanding a strong second quarter from the Celtics, New York came out with a palpable, contagious energy to propel themselves to a double-digit lead. Led by Raymond Felton’s dribble penetration and Carmelo Anthony’s sudden precision from the field, the Knicks offense launched them back into the lead. Their stern defense, however, all but shut the Celtics down as Boston’s one-and-done arrhythmic jumpers continually clanged off the rim to the sound of their own flat-lining.
The series is far from over, especially as Boston returns to a vigorous home crowd, but for now, the Knicks are sitting pretty having dutifully protected their home-court advantage.
Both teams sputtered out of the gate, afflicted by their own general incompetence on both ends of the floor and some quick, continuous whistles from the referees. Noticeable immediately for the Knicks, however, was a seemingly more mobile Tyson Chandler and the return of Pablo Prigioni. In the early going, Chandler and the Knicks controlled the boards and Prigioni’s presence seemed to ease the Knicks stagnation on offense.
Said stagnation had a lot to do with the Celtics’ ability to blow up pick-and-rolls and Carmelo Anthony’s insistence on posting/facing up on defenders and settling for mid-range jumpers. When he attacked the basket – which he did at a decent rate – he was able to get to the free throw line, collecting critical fouls on the Celtic starters in the process. Raymond Felton got off to a good start, however, knocking down his first three-pointers of the game and turning the corner on screens to get to the paint for his own hoops or on kick-outs to teammates.his
J.R. Smith stole the show, though. Fresh off winning Sixth Man of the Year, Smith checked in, promptly dribbled the ball for ten seconds, passed up on passing, and opted for a double-pump, step-back jumper that hardly hit nylon. Smith continued his antics throughout the quarter, nailing more of his favorite fade-away jumpers, and spinning to the rack, and dumping off a beautiful pass for Kenyon Martin for the open slam. He punctuated it all by hitting one more deep jumper with six seconds to go, then forcing Paul Pierce into a turnover, and nailing a 30-foot three-pointer as time expired.
New York led 26-20 after the first quarter.
Through two games, so far, the Knicks have had one let-down quarter. In Game 1, it was the third quarter; in Game 2, it was the second. With most of the starters resting, the Knicks’ bench failed to generate momentum on offense while letting the Celtics get on a roll of their own. Smith’s magic seemed to run out, and Boston’s fortress-like defense forced the Knicks into a series of bad looks. On the other end, Boston pushed the pace, spread the floor, and punished the Knicks’ porous defense.
The turning point came early in the quarter with New York up five. A shot clock violation on the Knicks led to a basket by Jordan Crawford, followed up by a bad pass from Jason Kidd, and a jumper from Avery Bradley. Kenyon Martin turned the ball over on the ensuing possession which led to another layup from Bradley. Two missed jumpers in a row from Smith sandwiched a turn-around jumper from Kevin Garnett. To cap it all off, after yet another turnover, Jason Terry sank a pull-up three. Just like that, New York’s lead had been squandered into a four-point Boston lead.
Things didn’t get much better. Anthony checked back in and isolated and jab-stepped himself into a bevy of contested, missed jumpers. The Celtics kept coming on offense, ballooning their lead to nine twice as Paul Pierce took advantage of his sizable matchups with New York’s guards. The Knicks did a solid job closing the quarter, however, by rallying off five quick points so that they only trailed 48-42 at halftime.
Game 1 third quarter :: Game 2 second quarter as Game 1 fourth quarter :: _______ . You guessed it! The Knicks used a pivotal third quarter, just as they used a pivotal fourth quarter in Game 1 to recapture the game.
It began with Iman Shumpert knocking down two consecutive three-pointers to tie the game up. Later, after some free throws by ‘Melo, bedeviling the Celtics into foul trouble, a Felton drive put the Knicks up two. And the train kept-a-rollin’ from there. Prigioni and Chandler ran a pick-and-roll to get Chandler a layup and a foul (his only basket of the game). Anthony joined in on the fun, canning a three-pointer and then a posting up Jeff Green and hitting a difficult turn-around jumper along the baseline. Felton capped things off with crossover to get in the lane, pull-up, and hit a little floater. Just like that, New York’s 23-4 run to kick things off put them up ten, deflated the Celtics, and set the Garden crowd ablaze.
The defense was the key, though. Part of it was the Celtics’ own lack of energy, but the Knicks’ rotations were crisp all night, and in the third, their individual defense was on point. Boston tried to run their offense through Kevin Garnett, and while Chandler was slightly immobile against smaller players driving to the hoop, on Garnett’s post-ups, face-ups, and jumpers, Chandler contested very well. Boston became careless with the ball, and soon the whole team was thrown into an inescapable funk as the Knicks constricted tighter and tighter.
Anthony capped the Knicks’ explosive quarter by blowing by Garnett on a switch, and taking it to the rim for a dunk. The Knicks led 74-59 at the end of the third quarter.
The Knicks’ third quarter diligence did them well as they were able to sort of cruise through the fourth. One frightful stretch began with Steve Novak’s inability to cover Jordan Crawford, who scored five quick points, along with a Pierce three to cut the lead to nine. The Knicks rebounded quickly, however.
‘Melo flipped the switch again and splashed the net on three straight jumpers, mostly off the catch. The quick flurry all but eliminated Boston’s chances of coming back. More turnovers led to exciting moments like a Felton-Smith alley-oop on the break to put the Knicks back up 13. Kenyon Martin provided his fair share of excitement and tenacity with crowd-pleasing swats into the stands and his ensuing war cries.
Mike Woodson replaced Kidd, Anthony, and Felton in the last three or four minutes of the quarter and sent out the bench squad to ride out the victory. The crowd gave a thankful ovation as the Knicks took a 2-0 series lead over their long-time tormentors.
- The Knicks have now allowed a total of 48 points in the second halves of these two playoff games. 48. As our friend Jared Dubin points out, the Knicks’ second half defensive efficiency is 55.6, which would be the best, like, ever.
- Though Carmelo Anthony (34 points, 11-24 FG) and J.R. Smith (19 points, 7-15 FG) had the two explosive nights, I thought Raymond Felton was the key factor. In the first half, Felton was tentative to drive the lane, and was overly passive trying to distribute the ball. In the second half, Felton attacked the paint with gusto, and didn’t make, seemingly, a single mistake with the ball. He finished with 16 points on 8-15 FG, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and zero turnovers.
- Despite getting dunked on in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter, Kevin Garnett finished his third quarter by setting a very illegal, rough screen on Shumpert (didn’t get called), and then blocked Shumpert at the rim at the buzzer, and continued his constant barking. This made the Knicks’ double-digit comeback, and the Garden crowd’s “KG sucks” chants all the more delightful.
- Though the defense suffers because a guard is forced to cover Paul Pierce, it appears the Knicks’ only shot at running semi-fluid offense over the Celtics’ stern defense is to play two point guards at a time. The only real exception to this was the Knicks’ giant run to start the third quarter, though.
Th Knicks have two days off before playing the Celtics in Boston on Friday night. It’s somewhat expected that the Knicks will lose a game in Boston, but winning Game 3 would be very important to closing out the series. Historically, the team up 3-0 in the playoffs in the NBA, has won the series 100% of the time.
1. Did we learn anything about this series in Game 1?
Danny Guerrero: Not sure we learned anything new in Game 1. Both teams struggled offensively (the Celtics more than the Knicks), but that can be attributed to a couple of things. The Knicks were without Pablo Prigioni, who has been orchestrating the offense for about the past month. You also might be able to use the excuse of Game 1 jitters and an extended break for Knicks regulars like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler and others who didn’t play much the last week of the regular season. As for Boston, their offensive problems should have been expected. With no true point guard, Paul Pierce is basically running the show for the Celtics. He is now responsible for getting his teammates and himself shots. Other than Pierce and the first half performances of Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, the C’s got zero from everyone else. Not a good omen for them going forward.
Bryan Gibberman: I had two main takeaways from Game One. 1. The Celtics weren’t able to fix their issues in the break between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. 2. Boston is still a poor rebounding team and New York should continue to win the turnover battle. More importantly, unlike what we saw from head coach Mike Woodson in last year’s first round series against the Heat, he showed an ability to make halftime adjustments. New York improved its ball movement and corrected some systematic defensive errors in the second half. A good first game for the Knicks.
Tony Arnoldine: We learned that Kenyon Martin will play an important role in the Knicks’ success against Boston. He can bully Kevin Garnett and add defense and rebounding in the post, along with Tyson Chandler.
2. After watching game one, how big of a role do you think Pablo Prigioni will play?
Danny: Prigioni’s absence was huge. Since taking over the starting PG duties for the Knicks on 3/18 vs the Jazz, the team had not scored less than 90 points in any game. Game 1 without him: 85. While the team still has two experienced PGs, in Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, there is no doubt the two got used to and comfortable playing as the team’s SGs in Mike Woodson’s two PG lineups. With Prigioni (possibly) back for Game 2, I expect the Knicks offense to be more fluid.
Bryan: Pablo Prigioni’s role in this series brings an interesting dynamic. Boston is smallish at the four and five, but they are extremely big at the one, two and three. With Felton, Prigs and Shumpert starting New York is going to have a difficult time matching up at the defensive end. This is where the Knicks incessant double-teaming over the course of the regular season could actually help them. They have plenty of practice doubling and rotating, which they will need to do if Felton is guarding Paul Pierce on the defensive end. The main goal in these situations should be to funnel the ball to Avery Bradley and put him in a position to make a decision, and not work off cuts or spot up jumpers. Offensively, Prigs will fit right in and immediately improve the Knicks’ half court sets. New York lacked ball movement in the first half outside of stretch when they played their second unit. The Argentinian will help solve this issue and the Knicks offense will be more fluid.
Tony: Ray Felton played 43 minutes in Game 1 and for him to stay fresh throughout the series, and hopefully a longer playoff run, Prigioni will have to provide the depth he did during the regular season.
3. How important is it that the Knicks return to their old ways of shooting a lot of threes?
Danny: At least for this series, I’m not sure it will matter if the Knicks continue their three-point barrage of the regular season. Plain and simple, they are just better than the Celtics, especially a Boston team without perennial Knick-killer Rajon Rondo. The Celtics offense will continue to struggle as long as Pierce has to worry about getting his teammates and himself shots. Their offense might even look worse if they continue to get nothing from their bench. As for the Knicks, as long as they move the ball around and look for the open man instead of getting caught up in Iso-Melo and Iso-JR, there is no reason why they won’t (and shouldn’t) win this series.
Bryan: During the regular season, the Knicks averaged 21.8 three point attempts per game. Game One against the Celtics New York shot 25 three pointers. There is nothing wrong with this, the Knicks should continue to let it fly. If the Knicks are taking three pointers it means they are moving the ball and taking quality shots. There’s no way to figure this out without tracking every three pointer the Knicks have taken this season, but my guess is more often than not when they take threes they are in catch and shoot situations. New York gets open threes off of their pick and roll sets, plus Boston shifting its defense towards Carmelo Anthony. When Anthony makes the correct pass, something he has been doing for the majority season, it usually leads to an open three pointer on the weak side of the court.
Tony: When the Knicks are running on all cylinders, the prolific three-point shooting comes because of their success in other aspects. That needs to be the case for New York to be successful in these playoffs. Forcing threes won’t help, but hitting open shots as a result of good ball movement and Carmelo Anthony drawing double teams should be a strategy for Mike Woodson.
J.R. Smith has just been announced as the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year. Congratulations to J.R. on his accomplishment. Now, let’s honor him… in GIF form.
Yesterday, Tyson Chandler made his first playoff start against the Boston Celtics. He, along with Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton, and Chris Copeland served as one of the bigger lineups to match the size and skill of the Celtics. For 20 minutes, Knicks fans waited for the Tyson Chandler from the regular season to show up. He was a non-factor on offense during the 20 minutes he played. It really doesn’t matter at this point, given that the Knicks earned a “W” against their Celtic rivals and since there’s plenty of time for Chandler to return to form as he did during the regular season.
Before a bulging disc in Chandler’s neck put him on the injured list, his patented contributions to the Knicks offense was worthy of being a registered trademark. Chandler and Raymond Felton were the 1-2 punch for the Knicks executing the pick-and-roll to a T. Back on February 3rd, when the Knicks played the Sacramento Kings, they reached a season high of 19 pick-and-roll plays, according to ESPN. Many of which could be credited to Chandler’s chemistry with Carmelo Anthony and, of course, Felton, the Knicks’ point guard. When Felton went down with his injured finger, he became the missing catalyst to this part of Chandler’s game.
Throughout the 2012-13 season, Chandler’s game has probably put him on the radar of every team in the league because of how effective he is in tapping-out the ball to his teammates. Whenever I see another player crashing the boards, and not actually grabbing the ball, but tapping it out to another player to create a second chance opportunity to score, I automatically think they’re jocking Tyson Chandler. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery, right? I’d like to see another player tie their team’s franchise record for rebounds the way Chandler earned 20 rebounds over the course of three consecutive games. When he makes a clean tap out of the ball directly to his teammate, that’s logged as a rebound too. Even Mike Breen, one of MSG’s broadcasters even cosigned Chandler’s tap out consistency when the The New York Times profiled the trend earlier this year.
We didn’t see much of the old Tyson Chandler against Boston on Saturday afternoon. The point is he played. The dude played through his neck injury for as long as he could, even in one of their biggest wins of the season, the last showdown of the regular season against the Miami Heat. He played 24 minutes and only made 2 rebounds in that game. His effort is commendable on all accounts. The individual statistics can put a notch in his belt, but there are intangibles to Chandler’s game that make him a presence on the court, like shadowing Kevin Garnett on defense. So even though yesterday he might have seem rusty, once he’s back in full form, expect the volcano of the Knicks’ big men to erupt in a major way.