The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics once again battle. This time, they square off under the playoffs.
The Knicks lead the Celtics 3-1 and are playing the best basketball. They got game, as shown by their star players like Carmelo Anthony, veterans and their late signee, Kenyon Martin. The Celtics can’t seem to find their groove in New York as shown in their performance after a rousing pregame ceremony in Boston. That is, until Game 4 arrived.
The Knicks are poised to take this series. The Celtics did put up a fight in Game 4 and they will not go down quietly. They finally overcame the Knicks’ forces led by Anthony, Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith (although Smith was suspended for Game 4 and did not play). What have we learned so far from this Knicks vs. Celtics series? Quite a bit!
1. Green helps the aging Celtics
Paul Pierce leads his Celtics team in this series in assists with six a game. Kevin Garnett leads the Celtics in rebounds with 12.3 a game. These are the only bright spots in the Celtics who cannot carry the load like they used to.
Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass, respectively the starting point guard and power forward, did not show up in the first few games. Jason Terry got the start in Game 3 over the struggling Bass, who scored five points in the first two games. Bradley and Jeff Green have been inconsistent; both followed Game 1 with lackluster performances in Game 2.
Green, however, has stepped up since Game 3. He leads the team in points with 19 points in this series. His quickness and his determination are proving to be a problem for the Knicks on defense. If Green can capitalize, the Celtics might do the unthinkable and come back from their 3-1 deficit.
2. Martin’s resurgence
Kenyon Martin is back with a vengeance. He leads the Knicks with 10 rebounds a game off the bench. That’s great for a man who originally signed a 10-day contract, but earned a deal for the rest of the year. Martin also recorded six blocks in first two games and averages six points a game.
The Knicks need Martin to continue his recent showings, as Martin is filling in for an injured Amare Stoudemire (right knee surgery). He’s a worthy backup for Chandler, who is still recovering from his nagging neck and back injuries. Opponents will have a real problem on their hands if Martin continues his stride.
3. Anthony’s arrival
Anthony survived his test of carrying the team the only way he knows how: scoring points–multiple points. Anthony, who averages 35 points a game in this series, cannot be stopped by the Celtics. On the offensive end, Anthony is relentless no matter who guards him.
A great deal of credit goes to the lineup created by Knicks coach Mike Woodson. He has Anthony as the starting power forward and runs a small starting five featuring Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton, Chandler and Iman Shumpert. Anthony is the primary shooter on the team and rightfully so can’t be stopped.
4. Missed opportunities
Frankly, in this series the Celtics could have played closer to the Knicks but they just couldn’t score when they were open or underneath. Jason Terry went 0-for-9 from the field in Game 1.
Attribute their struggles to turnovers. The Celtics committed 21 turnovers in Game 1 and 18 in Game 3. The Celtics also hit 28 out of 70 shots, shooting 40 percent from the field that game. The Knicks looked fine until Game 4.
Anthony missed two free throws that led to an overtime loss against the Celtics 97-90. The Knicks also looked like the Celtics in the past three games, turning over the ball 15 times. They needed to close in Game 4, but they let the Celtics live. That could backfire if this series drags on.
5. Raymond Felton: underrated
Raymond Felton could possibly be the most underrated player on the Knicks roster. He can score too, averaging 14.7 points in this series.
He arrived in Game 4, scoring 27 and even bringing the Knicks closer after they trailed by as much as 20. Felton scored a key 3-pointer, capping a 30-point third quarter by the Knicks. However, he does more than score.
What makes Raymond Felton underrated? Try setting the plays and the tone for each game.
Felton runs the schemes at point designed by Woodson and the coaching staff. He drives in but kicks it out to the open man, be it Smith or Prigioni, etc. If someone is open, Felton passes it to him. Even though he recorded two assists in Game 2, Felton got six assists in Game 1 and nine in Game 3. Felton always finds his man, so keep an eye on him.