Had the Knicks been able to hold on against the Celtics, the ending would have been almost poetic. With 50 seconds left in a tie game, Chauncey Billups, the Knicks floor general, suffers an apparent knee injury and cannot return. After getting a stop, Toney Douglas comes down and pulls up from 3 early in the shot clock, just like his mentor would, and drills the 3… just like his mentor would. This
would should have been the story. Instead, well, you know how it ended.
So instead of talking about Douglas’ clutch 3 or how Amar’e Stoudemire eviscerated Kevin Garnett in the 4th Quarter or how Mike D’Antoni deserves props for coming up with a smart game plan and navigating through early foul woes for Carmelo Anthony, we’re instead talking about Melo’s poor 2nd half performance and that looong 3-pointer he jacked up with time ticking down. We’re talking about how badly D’Antoni got schooled by Doc Rivers in the final 30 seconds of this game, starting with the Rajon Rondo-Garnett alley-oop and ending with Ray Allen getting an open look that allowed him to drive the dagger through the heart of Knicks Knation.
The take away from this game is that the Knicks can play with the Celtics. Then again, anyone who watched Knicks-Celtics games this season could tell you that. The Knicks almost stole one in Boston despite poor performances from basically everyone except Amar’e Stoudemire. If I told you the Knicks would lose on a last second shot despite Melo, Billups, and Douglas combining for 33 points you would have laughed in my face. The take away from this game should be as follows: if the Knicks can carry over the defensive intensity from Game 1, you have to expect better offensive performances from Melo and Douglas. This series isn’t over, folks. It’s only just begun.
Observations & Thoughts
- The Jeff Green acquisition has been panned by many and, based on the Celtics performance following the trade, rightfully so. However, I thought Green played Melo pretty tough, which saved Paul Pierce‘s legs for offense and defense. Remember, Melo basically had sole responsibility for Pierce on defense for the Knicks.
- I would have liked to see a bit more Bill Walker. Admittedly, I’m a big fan of Walker’s game and have championed him since training camp, but he provided a nice spark when Melo had to sit with foul trouble. Plus, Landry Fields looked lost out there and the Knicks need more on the offensive end. Walker has also played pretty solid D. IMO, Walker should cut into Fields’ minutes, especially with Billups looking doubtful for Game 2.
- Along the same lines, what’s with Shawne Williams only getting nine minutes? The Celtics are not as big and long as their reputation would have you believe. When the Celtics go with their small lineup I’d like to see D’Antoni get Shawne in the game to spread the floor and make life easier on STAT and Melo. Imagine a lineup of STAT-Shawne-Melo-Walker-Douglas? Talk about spreading the floor with shooters.
- That being said, both Ronny Turiaf and Jared Jeffries had solid games (although Turiaf was only a +1 and Jeffries was a -9.) It’s just incredibly frustrating to watch the offense when they’re in the game since the Knicks are basically playing 4 on 5 in those situations.
- Anthony Carter gave the Knicks decent minutes, but I still would have liked to see Walker in the game when Billups had to come out. The Knicks are not good enough to beat the Celtics by playing it safe. Walker presents more upside than Carter and he is much more versatile offensively.
- D’Antoni was badly outcoached by Doc at the end of the game. The alley-oop to Garnett off the out of bounds play was inexcusable defense coming out of a timeout. However, I give D’Antoni a pass on not having a timeout for the last possession since he had to burn one following Billups’ injury. Plus, the Knicks had plenty of time to get down the floor and set up a last shot and they were probably going to ISO Melo anyway.
- Last night was a statement game for Amar’e. He is out to show that he is an elite player and he really got after Garnett, posting a very strong 28 & 11. We’re going to need more of that and then some from our captain. Let’s hope the team continues to go to STAT when they see he has it going.