We talked earlier today about the New York Knicks having a statement win…tonight they obliged, thrashing the Boston Celtics 87-71 in a performance that left no doubt who the superior team is in this series. Madison Square Garden was rocking like it hasn’t been in over a decade as the Knicks overcame a sluggish second quarter to run Boston out of the building in the second half, thoroughly out-classing them on both ends of the court.
The Celtics overcame a 6 point deficit at the end of the first quarter to outscore the Knicks 28-16 in the 2nd quarter as the Knicks appeared stagnant on offense and the Celtics finally got some outside shooting from Jason Terry and Paul Pierce. However, the Knicks came flying out the gates in the second half, prompted by a pair of three-pointers from Iman Shumpert. Carmelo Anthony then began heating up, hitting 8 of his first 9 shots in the second half en route to a 34 point performance, giving him 70 points through the first two games of this series. Raymond Felton also had a big quarter and provided supplemental scoring to Anthony and JR Smith (19 points) with 16 points on 8-15 shooting to go with 7 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Celtics went ICE cold on offense further accentuating their offensive shortcomings. The Knicks defense was very good, yes…but this Boston team’s offense is thoroughly mediocre and only managed a putrid 23 points in the second half. Kevin Garnett was in foul trouble all night and only managed 12 points. Boston is far too reliant on players like Terry and Jordan Crawford for points. Jeff Green was also quiet with 10 points on an ugly 3-11 from the field. Simply put, they don’t have the horses to keep pace with the Knicks offense, particularly when Carmelo is shooting efficiently.
Tonight was also a step in the right direction for Tyson Chandler who despite only having 3 points and 5 rebounds, looked much more active and was a bigger contributor on defense. Chandler helped spark the Knicks 3rd quarter run with a 3 point play and a block. The rest of the supporting cast was quiet as Chris Copeland, Steve Novak and Jason Kidd combined for 6 points. Kenyon Martin only had 3 points but racked up 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in 23 minutes, continuing his recent stretch of terrific play.
The Knicks have now successfully defended their home-court and pushed Boston to the brink by grabbing a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is this Friday night in Boston, where the Knicks can move one game away from advancing into the second round. So far we have seen no reason to think the Knicks can’t close this series out in 4 or 5 games. Can they keep it up away from Madison Square Garden?