Much has been made of the downward spiral of JR Smith in these playoffs. Fortunately for the Knicks, there has been a corresponding upward trend by Iman Shumpert. As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another door gets dunked on by Iman Shumpert.”
Let’s start with Smith. Much like the Knicks themselves, JR started the playoffs pretty strong. In the first three games against the Celtics, he was 7-19, 7-15 and 6-12 from the field. While 43% isn’t amazing, it’s actually better than the 42% JR shot during the regular season. Then came the elbow, the ejection, the suspension, the trash talk and finally, the slide. Since his suspension Smith has shot 3-14, 5-13, 4-15 and 3-15 for an abysmal 26%. Not surprisingly, New York went 3-0 with the hotter JR and has gone 2-3 since (including the suspension game).
Yet, there is cause for hope even if Smith can’t pull out of his funk immediately. That hope is the rising play of Iman Shumpert. In the first three games when the Knicks were bulldozing Boston, their top three scorers in each game were Smith, Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony and they took and made the bulk of the shots for New York. Shumpert’s role was as a defensive stopper who occasionally spotted up for a three. In those three games he went 1-2, 2-6 and 1-5 from the field. He also never played more than 22 minutes in any of those three games.
The thing that Felton, Smith and Anthony have in common is that they can create their own shot either from the perimeter or by attacking the basket off the dribble. Most of the rest of New York’s scoring comes from spot up shooting off the catch or the occasional alley-oop dunk by a big man. When Smith was suspended, New York found itself without a key component of their offense. Among other things, Coach Mike Woodson likes to keep three guards on the floor at all times and Smith had been giving him 30 minutes a game that now needed to be funneled elsewhere.
Since Shumpert’s offensive skillset most closely resembles Smith’s (of Woodson’s options), and he had been playing so few minutes, I suggested to Posting and Toasting’s Seth Rosenthal that Shumpert would see a major spike in playing time. Sure enough, Shumpert’s minutes doubled, as he went 44 minutes in game four against the Celtics. As required, he was much more aggressive on the offensive end, taking 13 shots instead of his usual four or five. Though he only made five of them and the Knicks lost, Woodson’s show of faith in Shumpert has reaped rewards as the playoffs have progressed. Even with the return of Smith, Shumpert has continued to see increased minutes: 29, 38, 33 and 29. This has been accompanied by greater aggression and greater success on the offensive end. Iman has shot 4-7, 6-9, 4-11 and 7-11 in those games. After taking just four shots a game in the first three clashes with Boston, Shumpert has averaged 10 shots a game since, while hitting on 51% of those shots.
Shumpert’s most recent effort would seem the most promising and will be one the Pacers need to account for as the series continues. In that game, Shumpert went 6-8 from two-point range. This was the first playoff game which Iman made more than three shots from inside the arc and hopefully this is a sign that Shumpert is finally becoming confident attacking the basket again after a very slow and gradual return from his ACL surgery. Though at least he was finding ways to help his team on the court during the time he was rebuilding his confidence after the doctors cleared him (mandatory jab at Derrick Rose of the hated/feared Bulls).
Given that it has taken Shumpert over 50 games to perform at this level after coming back from his injury, I hope New York fans have very low expectations should Amare Stoudemire return to the court this Saturday. As we saw from STAT earlier this season, even he doesn’t play like an all-star for the first several games after a long absence due to injury. Given the size of Indiana’s frontline and the Knicks inability to find a big man that can score when Melo is on the bench, even a 60% STAT might be pretty helpful at this point though.
Since New York just beat the Pacers by 26, while Smith was shooting 3-15 and STAT was in street clothes, I really like New York’s chances in this series. Charles Barkley and his predictions otherwise and statement that Indiana is just a better team be darned. We’ll see Chuck, we’ll see… If Shumpert stays aggressive and keeps giving the Knicks another solid option on the offensive side of the floor (to go with his incredible efforts on the defensive end), then I think Indiana is in quite a bit of trouble.
According to Kenyon Martin, the Knicks were attending a funeral for the Celtics, which explained why he and his teammates, including J.R. Smith wore black to Game 5. Their plan to bury the Celtics back fired, resulting a 92-86 loss. While the Knicks’ choice of attire will be scrutinized until Friday’s Game 6, go ahead and shift your attention to J.R. Smith wearing the throwback Bo Jackson Nike Air Trainer SC “Auburn” edition during warm-ups. The sneakers were released to commemorate Jackson’s historic career at his alma mater, Auburn University. There might not be any deep significance beyond J.R. lacing up the Trainer SC besides the fact that 1) Bo is one of the greatest athletes of all time, and 2) the White/Total Orange/Purple/Stealth are a superb match with the New York Knicks home uniform.
Allow us to speculate. This was Smith’s return from a one game suspension after Jason Terry’s collision with J.R.’s elbow resulted in an ejection from Game 3. The hope last night was that J.R. Smith would return to form as the soaring-and-scoring, posting-and-toasting player with buzzer beaters, and a streak of 30+ point games under his belt. Like Bo Jackson’s solo achievement of the 1985 Heisman Trophy, J.R. Smith also recently took home the honor of the Sixth Man of the Year award. Granted, it’s no Most Valuable Player title, but to be singled out for outstanding play deserves equal acknowledgement. Will we see the offensive threat of J.R. Smith in Game 6 this week?
Bo Earl knows.
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.
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.
Saturday afternoon was one of, hopefully, many joyous occasions at Madison Square Garden in the coming weeks.
The Knicks began their playoff run with a solid 85-78 win over the Celtics to take a 1-0 lead in the first round, best of seven series.
New York was able to pull out the win, despite allowing Boston to shoot .415 from the field, compared to their own .405. The Celtics were also a +7 from the free throw line.
How do you go about making up that difference?
You create more possessions and hit three pointers. The Knicks were a +12 from behind the arc and put up 14 more shots than Boston. According to NBA.com, New York rebounded 88.2% of the available defensive boards, 21.7% of the offensive boards and turned the ball over on 14.7% of their possessions. The Celtics turned the ball over on 23.2% of their possessions. The Knicks cleaned up the boards and turned the ball over less, precisely what was expected going into the series.
The Knicks’ defensive improvement in the second half was also a huge part of the victory. The Celtics ORtg in the first half was 108.3, compared to a ORtg of 60.4 in the second.
New York’s offense suffered a similar fate. The first half ORtg was 105.3 and the second was 85.6.
The numbers across the board make it look like New York played better offensively the first half than the second half. In the first and second quarters, the Knicks shot 46.2% overall and 60% from three. In the third and fourth quarters, they shot 35% from two and 20% from three.
That shooting percentages, plus difference in ORtg, paints a picture that New York’s offense was better in first half than it was in second half. Despite what the numbers say, I believe it was the opposite.
The Knicks adjusted in the locker room and got back to what made them one of the best offensive teams in the league after 24 minutes, featuring a stagnant offense with no ball movement.
Before halftime, the Knicks averaged 1.67 passes per possession in half court sets. That number looks better than it actually was because of a stretch with Felton, Shumpert, Novak, Cope and Martin when they totaled 3.6 passes per possession. In the time Melo was on the court, New York tallied 1.35 passes per possession. Melo’s usage % in the first half according to NBA.com was an unseemly 48.4%, up 13% from his regular season number of 35.3%. The numbers from Synergy Sports show Anthony isolated on 15 possessions.
As a team, the Knicks assisted on 8.3% of their two point makes and all five of their three point makes.
In the second half, despite the numbers taking a drop, New York got back to moving the ball side to side and relied less on isolations, or more importantly isolations that killed ball movement.
In half court sets after halftime New York averaged 2.47 passes per possession.
Melo’s usage dropped from 48.4% to 29.1%, he took three of his four spot up shots in the second half and he only isolated five times.
If J.R. Smith hit catch and shoot jumpers at comparable rate to his regular season percentage instead of going 0-5, New York would have won by double digits.
The Knicks assisted on 36.4% of their made twos in the second half and 66.7% of threes. The monster jump on the twos is what jumps out the most.
For New York to sustain offensive success against the Celtics building on the formula they used in the second half will be imperative.
There is no doubt the Knicks need to rely on Melo and Smith in isolation situations at times — they can be effective plays, but there use needs to be associated with shot clock and specific match up advantages. It is much easier to attack a defensive player when he is on the move instead of squared up and balanced – this is what ball movement creates. The majority of the iso shots the Knicks were taking in the first half, specifically Melo, can be had at almost any time in the shot clock. He can wait until the first and second options of the set are run before the offense digresses into a one on one situation. This is exactly what happened in the second half for the majority of the sequences. If New York builds on what they showed offensively after the break, it will show up better in the numbers than it did in Game One going forward.
The home colorway of the playoff edition M9 boasts White/Game Royal/Team Orange, while the away version will feature Deep Royal/Bright Citrus/Game Royal. This updated colorway is a refreshing take on the preview M9s, highlighting the orange accents more prominently. Thoughts?
“Ah, the Knicks, Boston’s little brother in basketball. Keep your chin up guys, you’ll get us next time.
The smug cockiness jumps right off the page.
It isn’t just the Celtics fans that are disrespectful, though. Heading into a regular season meeting in 2010-2011, while both teams were playing at a high level, Paul Pierce had some honest, true, and disrespectful words for the Knicks:
New York wasn’t even on Boston’s radar…
When the two teams met in the first round later that year, a series that featured injuries to two of New York’s top three players in Amar’e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups, Melo’s supporting cast included the likes of Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Billy Walker, Shawne Williams, Sheldon Williams, Roger Mason, Anthony Carter and Jared Jeffries.
This was New York’s first playoff appearance since 2003-2004 and despite getting swept, two moments of the meeting will always stick out to me.
1. Game One will go down as the last time we saw Amar’e Stoudemire play at his peak.
Simply put, Stoudemire was incredible. Heading into Game Two, he screwed up his back doing some sort of pre-game dunk. It took months for him to recover and he has yet to regain the form he was in prior to the injury. In a perfect world, this is how we should all try to remember Amar’e.
2. With these extreme circumstances facing the Knicks in the next game, the performance that Carmelo Anthony put together in a loss lives on as one of his best games in a Knicks uniform. With no Chauncey Billups and a useless Amare Stoudemire, Melo almost single-handily carried New York to a win and a 1-1 series.
Everything fell apart after the two tight loses in Boston and the Celtics completed the sweep.
However, times have changed since the two teams met in 2010-2011. At that time, Boston was the three seed with 56 wins, while the Knicks were 42-40 and a team in transition.
Now, though, the Knicks are the favorites and the Celtics are the underdogs. New York comes in as the two-seed with 50+ wins, while the Green & White struggled to finish above .500. The Knicks have constructed a different looking roster in the two offseasons since their playoff defeat at the hands of Boston. Instead of a poorly assembled, group of misfit place holders, Melo is expected to take the court with Ray Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler, Pablo Prigioni, Kenyon Martin, Chris Copeland and Steve Novak — a group of players that know and understand their roles.
For the first time since 2003-2004, the Knicks won the season series with the Celtics, taking three out of the four games. To put it simply, you might as well forget those four games even happened.
The Celtics took the first meeting, but Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby and Amar’e Stoudemire all played legitimate minutes. The second meeting featured Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Stoudemire and James White. Tyson Chandler and Kevin Garnett did not participate in the final two matchups. Given all that information, there is nothing to be taken from these games.
Since Garnett has joined the Celtics, the team has not lost in the first round of the playoffs. Garnett has obviously always played a big role (outside of the one year he missed the playoffs with an injury) in this and that role will be expanded now that the post-season is here. During his six seasons with Boston, in the regular season, the man they used to call “The Big Ticket” has averaged 30.98 minutes. Come playoff time, Doc Rivers has boosted that number, on average, to 36.15.
This is significant because of the individual impact Garnett has on the entire Celtics team. This season, Boston has been a net +5.4 better when Garnett is playing, compared to when he isn’t. That number is on the low-end of his impact. His average net impact over the previous five seasons was +11.44. The extra five to seven minutes a night Garnett is on the court immediately makes his team better.
New York also has to deal with a nemesis that will go down in my generation Knicks fans’ brains with Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan. It’s an exclusive club that Paul Pierce is in. In 54 career games against the Knicks, Pierce has averaged 23.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4 assists on 45.7% shooting, 38.6% from behind the arc and 82.2% at the line. All of those numbers are slightly higher than his career averages.
Here are some unfortunate memories:
That was a big game, too — New York was in the midst of an eight game winning streak and the Celtics had won 10 straight (the Pierce comments mentioned in the beginning of this piece, came from before this particular game).
I remember this one being extremely obnoxious. I truly thought the Knicks had it.
This season… I wish someone in the front row picked up his chair and chucked it at Pierce as he was showing his appreciation to the MSG fans.
The two players discussed above, along with Doc Rivers, are why I am worried about the Celtics, even though they don’t look as formidable as they have in the past.
When examining this version of the Celtics, though, you can’t look at the season as a whole (even though I will at certain points in the story…it’s impossible not too). There are 38 games featuring Rajon Rondo, and a section without Kevin Garnett towards the end of the year, which are useless.
The time frame I looked at was from January 27 to March 13. It isn’t perfect, but it is the closest you can get to the team the Knicks will see in the playoffs. The two major differences being the fifth most used line up featured Jared Sullinger and there is a limited amount of Jordan Crawford (I think this could be the case with Crawford in the playoffs also). When going into this, I honestly had no idea whether the numbers would be good or bad. I didn’t have a clue what their record was.
In this 21 game stretch, the Celtics were 15-6. They were a below average offense, but their defensive efficiency was at what would have been the league’s best average, if it were to be extrapolated over the entire season.
Boston’s turnover % was below average and its offensive rebound % was a league low. The Knicks should end up with extra possessions across the course of the game because of their league best turnover % and their steadily improving work on the offensive boards. New York’s defensive rebounding has also stayed at a top five level, despite being forced into playing ridiculous small line-ups for small chunks of the season, and being without Tyson Chandler for 14 games.
Because of the extra possessions the Knicks will get, and the poor offensive production (it will look better against New York’s slightly below average D), it takes Boston playing at an extremely high level, defensively, to defeat the Knicks.
The numbers below, which show Knicks shooting %’s and locations, are from NBA.com:
When you break it down, New York takes (excluding backcourt shots) 31.8% of its shots at the rim, 6% in the paint, 26.7% mid-range, 8% corner 3 and above the break three 26.5%.
According to Synergy Sports, the Knicks’ top three methods of offense are spot up jumpers, isolation and pick-and-roll. The ratings in all three of these areas were “excellent.”
Boston’s defense guarding mid-range, corner 3s and above the break 3s is at an elite level, going off of the numbers from NBA.com. Without a real rim protector in the frontcourt, though, they are vulnerable to teams attacking the hoop.
Against the Knicks’ top three methods of offense, Boston defends spot-ups “excellent,” pick-and-roll “excellent,” (the role man “average”) and isolation “excellent.”
It is a battle of strengths. Will the Knicks highly efficient offense win out or will Boston’s defense?
At the other end of the court, the Celtics are a team that relies heavily on mid-range jump shots, but are also towards the top third of the league in corner three pointers attempted.
This is the result of having an offense built around Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Pierce’s shot chart:
Garnett’s shot chart:
According to Synergy, the top three means of offense for the Celtics are spot-up (“very good”), transition (“poor”) and pick-and-roll (“average”). New York does not rate well defending those situations.
One of the Knicks’ biggest weaknesses this year has been defending opposing team’s guards who have the ability to break down a defense off the dribble. This is not one of the Celtics strengths, fortunately. They play a methodical offense that lacks individual player creativity outside of Paul Pierce and at times (more frequently recently), Jeff Green.
On the other hand, Kevin Garnett’s ability to pull Tyson Chandler away from the basket will hurt New York’s at the rim defense if Green, Pierce and, to a certain degree, Avery Bradley, are able to break down their man in one-on-one situations.
It will be interesting to see how the two teams go about matching up defensively. In three of the last four games, Rivers has gone with a Garnett, Bass, Green, Pierce and Bradley starting line-up.
I didn’t see anywhere if this was something Doc was planning on rolling with in the playoffs or if it was just an experiment at the end of the season. However, If that’s the lineup, Woodson has an interesting decision to make: Does he continue to start Felton, Prigs, Shumpert, Melo and Tyson? With those groups, Woody might be forced to hide Ray or Prigs on Bass and the other on Bradley. Melo and Shump would have to defend Green/Pierce in some form. I’m not sure I like those matchups, defensively, but the balance of this team winning with offense and not worrying about who guards who is a delicate balance. In this situation, J.R. Smith will have to come off the bench extremely early (probably will anyway) or you could move Jason Kidd back into the starting line-up for Prigs. Putting Kidd on Pierce intrigues me in a weird way.
If Rivers goes back to a more traditional starting line-up, moving Green or Bass into a sixth man role and swapping one of them with Terry or Lee, the matchups get simplified. You would think Pierce and Melo don’t defend each other at the start of the game, so they can both save energy for offense. Shump takes on the Pierce challenge, Melo works on Bass or Green, Tyson stays with KG, Ray defends Terry/Lee and Prigs gets the Bradley assignment. That puts New York in a more comfortable situation.
Finally, we come to the question, “are the Celtics a team that gets in Melo’s head?”
Everyone remembers this:
This season against Boston, Anthony has averaged 25 points, on 35% shooting from the field and 30% from three in four games. Conversely, in the same amount of games last season, he averaged 30.8 points with a 49% FG and 41% 3P FG.
While with the Knicks, Melo has obtained both success and failure against a terrific defensive team in the Celtics. I don’t believe Boston is magically in his head. However, the Celtics happen to defend Anthony’s strengths well, which will lead to him having a more difficult time scoring against them than against most teams. It doesn’t mean Anthony isn’t capable of performing at a high level, but it’s not going to be easy.
I don’t expect anything in this series to be easy for the Knicks. Boston is a veteran savvy team that knows how to execute in playoff situations. They are well coached and have two players, in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who understand what it takes to win playoff games.
Unlike the last time these two teams played, though, New York also has a squad equipped for a legitimate playoff battle.
New York proved more capable of dealing with the rigors of an 82 game season than the Celtics. It was the first time they were able to do that since 2006-2007. Now, we find out if it translates to playoff success.
Prediction: Knicks in 6
I wouldn’t be the first person to observe that the Knicks’ remaining schedule is brutal. Most people point to the two obvious metrics: opponent’s records and road games. Of the Knicks’ remaining 24 games, only nine are against teams that currently have a losing record. In addition, the Knicks only have nine home games left on the schedule. The full extent of how bad the road ahead is for the Knicks goes beyond records and road games though.
The New York Knicks will enter the season as a 35-1 (40-1 just a few days ago) underdog to win the NBA Championship.
By using vegas’ odds, let’s take a look at the expected Eastern Conference breakdown:
This year’s NBA Playoffs have featured some ridiculous individual performances, the latest one being Rajon Rondo’s monster 44 points, 10 assist and eight rebounds performance last night. While it has been more than three weeks since the Knicks were eliminated by the Miami Heat, one of our own had one of those great performances: Carmelo Anthony’s 41 point explosion in Game 4. Here is a highlight mix I put together from that game. Hope you all enjoy. Happy Belated Birthday Melo!!!