The New York Knicks host the Boston Celtics in game three of the NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden after losing the first two games in Boston by a combined five points.
The Knicks have shown they are close to being a contender, but the Celtics, 2008 NBA Champions, who lost to the 2010 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers in game 7 of the NBA Finals last year, showed their championship pedigree by closing out the first two games. In both games one and two, the Knicks had leads with less than a minute to play in the game.
In game one, the Knicks led the Celtics 85-82 after a three-pointer by Toney Douglas with 37 seconds left. A quick basket by Kevin Garnett, an offensive foul by Carmelo Anthony,
followed by a Ray Allen three pointer, and a missed three pointer by Carmelo Anthony in the final seconds of the game gave the Celtics an 87-85 win. The Knicks failed to get the ball to all-star power forward Amar’e Stoudemire, who was 6-7 from the field in the first 10 minutes of fourth quarter with 12 points. He failed to touch the ball in the final two minutes. Meanwhile, the Celtics executed to perfection with baskets by Garnett and Allen.
In game two, the Knicks led 93-92 after a basket by Jared Jeffries with 19 seconds left. Another clutch basket by Garnett, followed by a turnover by Jeffries, and two clutch free throws by Delonte West, gave the Celtics a 96-93 win when a Bill Walker three point attempt in the final seconds missed.
Compounding the Knicks problems are injuries. Chauncey Billups left game one in the final minute of the fourth quarter with a strained left knee and missed game two. His status for game three is questionable at best. Meanwhile, Stoudemire left game two with back spasms and didn’t play the entire second half. He does expect to play in game three Friday at Madison Square Garden.
After a lackluster first game that saw him score 15 points on 5-18 shooting (1-11 in the second half), Carmelo Anthony exploded for 42 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks in the game two loss. Amar’e Stoudemire scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds with 2 blocks in game one.
The Knicks have struggled to get consistent offense from others in the first two games of the series against the great defense of the Celtics, as they have only had three players in
double figures in each game. The Knicks need Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Shawne Williams, or Bill Walker to step up offensively.
The health of Billups and Stoudemire, combined with more key play from other offensive options, and the Madison Square Garden crowd in the role of the sixth man will be the
keys to the Knicks winning a crucial game three. The Knicks must hold serve and when their two games at home. If not, this will be short series, with the Knicks cleaning out their lockers and preparing for an offseason of the unknown.