The Knicks are two games away from their first appearance in the second round of the playoffs since 2000.

 

They defeated the Celtics 87-71 Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

 

The second game of this series didn't disappoint fans looking for another exciting, back-and-forth game between these heated rivals.

 

Mike Woodson decided to go small in game 2, starting Pablo Prigioni alongside Raymond Felton in the backcourt. Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler manned the frontcourt. Prigioni replaced Chris Copeland, who moved back to the bench after starting game 1.

 

One day removed from winning the sixth man of the year award, J.R. Smith proved why he deserved the award, scoring nine points on 4-4 shooting in the first quarter. Smith was the only real source of offense for New York in the early goings.

 

The Knicks only managed 42 points in the first half of Tuesday's game after being outscored 28-16 in the second quarter. For the second straight game, Woodson's guys trailed at halftime but came out of the locker room for the second half looking like a completely different team.

 

Carmelo Antony missed four of his first five shots, but his night wasn't quiet, in any sense of the word. The MVP candidate went for 34 points, four rebounds and an assist.

 

The third quarter is where Melo-- and the entire team, for that matter-- really started to heat up. 

 

It started with a 24-4 run in favor of the Knicks, taking them out in front by 14.

 

Along with Melo, who shot 5-6 in the quarter, Shumpert (2-4), Smith (1-2), Felton (3-4), and Chandler (1-1) all had the hot hand in the third. The only five to take a shot, this group shot a combined 12-17 in the quarter for a total of 32 points.

 

Meanwhile, the Knicks defense held Boston to a mere 11 points in the quarter. Prigioni and Kidd were, characteristically, all over the floor, playing aggressive man defense and hustling for 50-50 balls, while Chandler and Kenyon Martin dominated the paint, together grabbing 16 rebounds and blocking five shots.

 

The Celtics struggled mightily offensively, especially in the second half, where they only mustered 23 of their 71 points.

 

Doc Rivers' team shot only 4-18 in the third quarter, including a 1-11 stretch to open the half.

 

No Celtic shot 50% or higher, and only Paul Pierce (18 points, six rebounds, six assists and five turnovers) scored more than 12 points.

 

Jason Terry (nine points) was the only one who could find his stroke from downtown, shooting 3 for 7 from long range. The rest of the Celtics combined to go 2-12.

 

On the other hand, Melo, Shumpert, Smith and Kidd all found themselves able to hit their threes, collectively going 7-13 on such shots.

 

In no way have the Knicks played up to their true potential so far in this opening round. They have had inconsistent shooting and poor ball movement.

 

Still, Knick fans have a lot to be excited about. The defensive effort and effectiveness this team has shown in the past two games is as great as it has been all season long.

 

Every player to touch the floor has been aggressive from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

 

The shots will fall, and the offensive flow will find its way back.

 

The important thing is that New York found ways to win. It hasn't been pretty, but the end result is pleasing to Knick fans, nonetheless. They lead the series 2-0, and that's all that matters.

 

The Knicks and Celtics head to Boston for game 3, which will be played Friday, April 26 at 8:00 PM EST on ESPN.