It’s beginning to turn into quite a life-changing season for the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, as the team are doing things that haven’t been done in over a decade for the franchise while he himself continues to be scoring t a level and pace he hasn’t done before, better than anyone else in the NBA, getting a little bit of help from J.R. Smith while the rest of the working-class bees struggle on defense to make it all worthwhile.
Anthony finished with 34 points, making it an average of 35 to kick off the series, needing a relatively low number of 24 shots (11-24) to reach this total, not contributing too much anywhere else with just 1 assist and four rebounds. There wasn’t any need, as the Celtics offense had one of its worst nights in history, eventually losing 87-71 and going home to Boston down 0-2 and not a lot of positives to cling to.
The Celtics talked about getting away from what brought them success in the first half during the next 24 minutes, but the truth is it’s not really up to them. They couldn’t get anywhere near the paint, scoring only 24 points (tied for the Celtics’ lowest in a game this season). The Celtics have averaged 27 paint points in the first two game of the series after averaging 38.1 points in the paint during the regular season. They shot only 37.1% from the field and 26.3% from beyond the arc, scoring only 23 points in the second half.
For a second straight game, they lost a halftime lead by having an ugly second half, now averaging only 24 points in the third and fourth quarters, and all the intelligence and experience in the world brought on by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett can’t make up for the fact that they’re probably not a team worthy of being in the playoff, with a team worthy of the postseason having some kind of chance of making it at least past the first round.
For the Knicks, or at least this version of them, these are uncharted waters. The last time the Knicks won consecutive playoff games was 2000. They won Games 3 and 4 against the Pacers in the Conference Finals, but lost the series 4-2. The last time the Knicks led a playoff series 2-0 was the 2000 1st Round when they led the Raptors 2-0 and went on to win the series 3-0.
J.R. Smith with 19 points and Raymond Felton with 16 were the sidekicks to Anthony in another game of Carmelo carrying the entire offense on his back. Tyson Chandler doesn’t need to put in big minutes, as the Knicks continue to play a lot of small ball with Kenyon Martin in the lineup as well, still good enough to keep the Celtics out of the paint, forced to shoot contested jumper after contested jumper.
The team Mike Woodson built might not be scoring in the numbers they did at the last month of the season, but against the Celtics playing good defense seems to be quite easy, while standing around and watching Anthony take all the shots has never been a hard thing to do.