With voices around him telling him a loss means the end to his NBA career, Kevin Garnett comes out and pulls off his best game in over a month and helps the old and almost forgotten Boston Celtics, led by Jeff Green instead of Paul Pierce, creep a little bit closer into what might become a huge upset.
Even at 2-3 and heading back home, the Knicks are still the favorites. Carmelo Anthony can’t shoot so bad (8-24 this time) so bad for a third straight time, can he? J.R. Smith can’t shoot worse than 3-14, finishing with 14 points? The Celtics, who struggled making it past 70 points in the first three games of the series, can’t continue scoring in the mid 90’s, can they?
They can if their defense continues to be there every time someone like Anthony or Smith turns around to take a shot, while the ball movement continues to be non-existent for the Knicks. Selfish basektball isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s certainly destroying a perfectly easy sweep for the Knicks, now putting them in a very tight spot instead of giving them a few days of relaxation.
The Celtics are now only the 11th team in NBA history to force a game 6 after going 3-0 down to begin with. Only 3 teams have forced a Game 7 and all 3 of them were at home in Game 6, like the Celtics. Home teams are 3-3 in Game 6s after trailing 3-0. None of them ended up winning the series.
So what one it for the Celtics? You can talk about heart (Garnett finished with 16 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists), but it came down to making shots. The Knicks’ defense has been lazy in the last couple of games, and the Celtics, even with their own limited offensive capabilities, have been making the most of it.
They’ve been hitting their three point shots, finishing with 11-22 in Game 5. Jason Terry and Paul Pierce were awful from the field on almost everything they did, except for when they were left open on the outside, more than once thanks to Kevin Garnett and his smart passing. Pierce knocked down four of those shots, Terry hit five of them. Meanwhile, the Knicks, relying so heavily on their success from beyond the arc, were only 5-22, as played who did so well during the regular season, like Steve Novak and Jason Kidd, don’t take a single shot.
And there’s the defense, enjoying the Knicks’ lack of offensive variety. They’ve been using an isolation play on 27% of their possessions, a lot more than their 16% in the regular season which was an NBA high. Carmelo Anthony was in isolation on 52% of his plays in the game, finishing with 3-12 from the field, continuing his awful trend throughout the series, shooting 29.8% on such plays.
A Red Sox – Yankees indeed? Hard to believe the Knicks can continue to look this bad for another game, and Mike Woodson isn’t going to make some sort of change up. But then again, he isn’t the best head coach in the world – he is just liked by his players and preaches defense. If Anthony doesn’t make a decision on his own to start sharing the ball a little more, the Knicks, as strange as that sounds, might indeed be doomed.