The New York Knicks are a much better team than the Boston Celtics. This has become readily apparent over the previous four meetings between the two teams, two in the regular season and the two playoff wins the Knicks just ran off in the past week. You can talk about Celtics pride, the ghosts of Paul Pierce haunting the Knicks and Kevin Garnett’s toughness all you want but all the Celtics are is a mediocre team who can’t score points. There is a reason they were 41-40 and finished 12.5 games behind the Knicks this season. Jordan Crawford plays crucial minutes for them. They count on Jeff Green to be a primary scorer and for people like Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley to hit open jump shots. This isn’t a good basketball team.
In both games, the Knicks have taken a hit in the mouth and put themselves into 7-9 point deficits. In both games, the Knicks quickly regained their balance, kicked into another gear and buried the Celtics behind a wall of bricks being chucked up by Boston’s guards. We haven’t seen the Knicks play a complete game yet. We’ve seen a terrific 4th quarter from them in Game 1 and a terrific 3rd quarter from them in Game 2. Tyson Chandler has 3 points in 2 games. Iman Shumpert has 9 points in 2 games. Chris Copeland and Steve Novak have been complete non-factors. The Celtics are encouraging Carmelo to get his 35 points and believing the rest of the supporting cast won’t do enough to beat them. Unfortunately for Boston, the Knicks can score 85 points and still beat them comfortably.
The Knicks cannot let Boston linger around at this point. In case you haven’t heard, the Knicks are an old team, dealing with their share of injuries. An extra few days before what should be a brutally physical second round series with Indiana could provide an enormous boost. They must avoid the wear and tear of letting this series drag out to 6 or 7 games against an inferior Celtics team. There will be plenty of energy in Boston’s building on Friday night but if the Knicks can weather the early storm and inevitable Boston run at some point, they should be fine just like they were in games 1 and 2.
There isn’t much left for Doc Rivers to try. You can’t make Avery Bradley a good shooter. You can’t make Jordan Crawford a competent rotation guard on a playoff team. The Knicks have the best player in the series. They have Kenyon Martin outplaying Kevin Garnett so far. Tyson Chandler should only get more comfortable and JR Smith keeps doing JR Smith things (in a good way). The Knicks need to play like the 54 team they were and end this series quickly.