After April 26th, the New York Knicks lead the Boston Celtics 3-0. One could say that the New York Knicks were supposed to sweep. Looking at all the factors, that's exactly what was said. The Knicks were stifling on defense, and doing what they had been doing all season on offense. However a troubling series of events led to the once down, and out Boston Celtics now clawing their way back into this series, and forcing a game 6 on Friday to be played at the TD Garden.
For starters in Game 3 the Knicks dominated, and it seemed as if the C's had their last leg to stand on kicked right from under them. Cue, JR Smith who with 7:06 to go in the 4th inexplicably throws an elbow at Jason Terry. Was the after effect the second coming to an Oscar worthy performance? Yes. Was Jason Terry the cause for JR's elbow? Yes. However with your team up by 19 in the 4th, there is no reason for that kind of action. That foolish move led to a Flagrant 2 foul for Smith, and led to his suspension for Game 4.
JR Smith isn't some role player that makes plays here, and there for the Knicks every other game. He's the 6th man of the Year, and most importantly the 2nd most dangerous scoring option the Knicks possess. Due to his absence the Knicks offense struggled in game 4 (well not Carmelo-36pts), and Jason Terry the man who provoked the elbow drill out of Smith went off in OT with 9 points to seal the deal.
Fast forward to tonight, where the Celtics who again have nothing to lose. JR Smith makes another head line, explaining his feelings towards the Knick's game 4 loss to the C's: "Oh yeah, it would've been over," Smith said after Tuesday's practice. "I'd have been playing golf today." There isn't lofty championship expectations for Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett anymore. Ray Allen is gone, Rajon Rondo is out, and the consensus feeling around the NBA is that this is the last time we'll see the tandem of Pierce/KG on a NBA court. However Smith may have provided the fuel they needed.
And just like a Doc River's coached team, the Celtics came into MSG with none of that on their mind. They played like the championship seasoned team they are, and in fact proved why Doc Rivers is arguably the best coach in the NBA right now. As if things couldn't get chippy enough we saw some hard fouls, and on both sides we saw a significant stretch of sloppy play.
Whether it was the C's defense, or an off night we saw a horrible shooting night from Carmelo Anthony (22 pts, 8-24 shooting), and another from JR Smith (14 pts, 3-14 shooting) who came back not backing up the talk he so easily provided to the media. And just to be fair to those two the whole Knicks team had a horrible night shooting 39.5% from the field, and 22.7% from three point land. For a team who's most lethal weapon is the three pointer, it goes to the saying "you live by the jump shot, you die by the jump shot". We did however see an efficient night from Raymond Felton (21 pts, 10-19 shooting).
The old men from Boston played the role of efficiency tonight shooting 45.7% as a unit, and 50% from 3-pt land. They also were perfect from the free throw line tonight hitting 17-17. Doc Rivers implemented the best type of game plan he could have: make the Knicks take bad shots (which they did), share the ball, and take great shots of your own.
We saw perhaps the most balanced attack from the Celtics this series as they had 5 guys in double figures scoring wise. Paul Pierce (16 pts) finally got close to being back into his shooting form, Kevin Garnett (16 pts, 18 rebs, 2 blocks) was every where causing havoc in the paint, Jason Terry made a statement with his play (17 pts), & Jeff Green (18 pts) hit two clutch 3's late in the fourth to seal the deal. Brandon Bass also put in 17 pts of his own to go along with his much needed defense on Carmelo Anthony at times.
No one thought that the Celtics would have the Knicks coming to Boston for a game 6. Well... no one outside of Boston. However if the the Knicks, and their fans aren't nervous yet they should be. Boston isn't an easy place to play when their is a lot on the line. Game 6's are in essence Game 7's to Boston fans, and they will be heard Friday May 3rd, at 7:00 pm. And if I haven't said this enough, Doc River's isn't the coach you want to over look. This series is everything you'd expect to see out of this rivalry such as the tension (near fight after the game between the two teams), and the many jabs coming from players that find their way to the Newspapers.
Knicks forward Kenyon Martin said before game 5: "We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin said, telling his teammates to, “Wear black. Funeral colors.’’ Well maybe he should worry about getting out of the TD Garden Friday with a second round opportunity, instead of the color scheme for the team. Then again that is easier said than done. Talk about must see TV, this Knicks vs Celtics series has proven to be the very best so far of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
Game 6 between the New York Knicks & the Boston Celtics will be Friday, May 3rd at 7:00pm. Broadcasted by ESPN