Knicks On The Brink Of Season’s End

Published on: 23rd April, 2011

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Yankees vs. Tigers
Knicks On The Brink Of Season's End

New York Knicks players walk off the court for a time out in the 3rd quarter of Game 3 of the New York Knicks NBA playoff series against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Original Filename: Corey-3678-2.jpg  | read this item

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New York – When you really get down to it, nobody had a good reason to believe the Knicks could view the close nature of their first two losses in Boston and extrapolate from that, a solid rationale on why they would win the next two games at home, particularly in front of their wildly anxious and excited fans.

But, sometimes we let emotion get in the way of reality. And, the reality tonight at Madison Square Garden, in front of a pumped-up New York crowd that had waited seven years for an NBA playoff game, was an overmatched Knicks team playing against a Celtic franchise with a long legacy of championships. Not to mention, the Knicks were also playing against a group of Hall of Fame level players who recognize that the 2011 playoffs are probably their last chance to compete together for an NBA championship.

These Celtics were not going to let an undersized, underskilled, injured Knicks team take away this potentially last chance at greatness.

Even if the Knicks were a healthy bunch, with Chauncy Billups at the point and Amar’e Stoudemire strong and limber, the challenge would have been immense for Mike D’Antoni’s team. The fact is, the Knicks had no answer for Boston’s Big Four tonight.

Rajon Rondo once again had his way with the Knicks backup point guard, Toney Douglas, putting up a triple-double without breaking a sweat. Rondo had 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 20 assists (a Celtic playoff record) in a near flawless display of point guard play. Poor Douglas, who has been on his heels this entire series trying to stick with the shifty and strong Rondo, did the best he could but the second-year player has discovered the greatness of Rondo under the bright lights of playoff basketball.

The recipients of Rondo’s passes were nearly flawless, themselves. Ray Allen, who doesn’t seem to be getting older, was 8 of 11 from three-point land on his way to 32 points for the game. Paul Pierce, also another ageless wonder, scored 38 effortless points on 6 of 8 from three and an astounding 14 of 19 overall, from the field.

Kevin Garnett was hardly needed tonight on the offensive end, as he focused on pulling down rebounds (12) and making sure the injured Stoudemire didn’t develop any momentum or confidence.

The Celtics won the first two games of this series without playing well. The Knicks coaching staff was fond of saying it was because the Knicks forced the Celtics into poor play. Somehow, the Celtics knew better and they proved it tonight.

The Garden crowd, so expectant after the two close losses in Boston, had the veritable wind knocked out of them in the first eight minutes of the game. The Celtics, feeling none of the pressure of playing in front of the hostile Madison Square Garden crowd, took an early 17-point lead. Before many in the crowd had actually been seated, Doc Rivers’ team was off to the races and the Knicks seemingly had no answers.

The Knicks Carmelo Anthony, who fell short of his second-game, 42-point output by 27 points (15 points on 4 of 16 shooting) summed up how it felt at the beginning of the game.

“I think we came out a little bit too slow,” Anthony said. “I don’t know if it was the excitement of playing here. I don’t know what it was. I think they capitalized on our slow start. Paul (Pierce) got off to a great start and we were looking uphill from there.”

With Chauncy Billups out of the lineup with his bad knee and Stoudemire hurting with his sore back, it was left to Anthony and his band of NBA gypsies to try to overcome a Celtic team that firing on all cylinders, tonight.

Stoudemire was disconsolate afterwards.

“We came out with the intent to win,” he said. “We definitely wanted to get this win, tonight. We just didn’t get it done. We have to go get back to the drawing board for Game 4.”

Without a healthy Stoudemire or a healthy Billups, and, with an exposed Knicks bench that has been forced into starting roles, the drawing board Stoudemire refers to may be a commentary on next season and not on salvaging a playoff win this year.

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