There was a moment with about 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter tonight where the New York Knicks and their fans were able to puff out their chest out and enjoy routing the Boston Celtics off their home court. It had been an ugly game but the Knicks had finally pulled away and were ready to put this decrepit monster to long overdue rest.
Yet, the next five minutes were straight out of a horror movie. It started slowly. A Celtics jump shot. A Celtics corner three. A steal. Another steal. Wait ANOTHER STEAL?! And now a 3 point play. Before you could exhale the Celtics were in the midst of a 19-0 run and making horrific, horrific history for all Knicks fans. An Avery Bradley steal and dunk actually had the lead down to 4 points with 3:31 left on the clock. Numbness would be the best way to describe the feeling the Knicks and most of their fans had at that point.
Yet, insanity did not prevail from that point forward. Carmelo Anthony, who did not have a good night, and led a Knicks offense that went WAY too iso-heavy in the final minutes, hit a jumper and then came back down and hit an open three set up by Raymond Felton. A JR Smith 3 point play after that basically put the game on ice.
Tonight wasn’t about Carmelo and JR though, both of whom remained generally cold from the field. Your MVP tonight was Iman Shumpert, with a honorable mention to Pablo Prigioni.
Shumpert has played the best basketball of his career the past few games of this series. His defense remained elite, as he was all over the court and was a key factor in Paul Pierce going 4-18 from the field (!). Shumpert’s steal and dunk put a merciful end to the Celtics 4th quarter 19-0 run. He also had his outside shot going, as he knocked down three 3 point shots and finished with 17 points. Prigioni had three first quarter three pointers of his own, which helped get the Knicks offense going and finished with a season high 14 points. The Knicks don’t win this game without that unexpected 31 combined points from Shumpert and Prigioni, their two least heralded starters.
This is a team with flaws who falls into bad habits at times. Yet, what team still playing doesn’t have their own flaws or injuries to deal with? (Okay the Heat…but that’s a conversation for another round). A terrific Knicks season has continued on with their first playoff series victory in 13 years. They took care of business in six games, like many expected them to. Next up? The Indiana Pacers…in what should be an absolute slugfest. The series will kick off at Madison Square Garden this Sunday. It is without question a winnable series for the Knicks and one they will probably be favorites for in the eyes of most people. Yet, they won’t get by the Pacers if they get too bogged down in isolation basketball and continue making so many mental mistakes.
But for tonight…enjoy it Knicks fans. And Jordan Crawford? We all look forward to ordering McRib’s from you next season when you are in your appropriate job.
Who’s #4 on the Celtics, by the way? Is he still doing that Mark Sanchez touchdown celebration from a few years back?