KNICKS RETURN TO GARDEN HOPING TO FINISH OFF CELTICS
Added by Greg Rappaport on April 30, 2013.
The Knicks are one win from advancing to the next round.
It took one overtime period for it to be determined that the proud-minded Boston Celtics would not fall victim to a sweep at the hands of their Atlantic Division rivals. However, for many New York Knick fans, this game felt like a blessing in disguise, since the ‘Bockers will now have a chance to close out the series at Madison Square Garden.
On Sunday afternoon, New York was able to overcome a 20-point deficit, using Boston’s early foul troubles as a means to get easy baskets inside the paint. The Knicks’ comeback was led by none other than Raymond Felton, whose superior ball handling and quick decision-making allowed New York to climb back into the contest.
Although in the end, it was all for not, as the Celtics pulled ahead en route to 97-90 overtime victory and forced a game five.
Missing from the contest was Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, who was serving a one game suspension for what looked to be an intentional elbow to the head of Jason Terry (who was also Sixth Man of the Year in 2009). Smith’s instant offense and leadership on the second unit was sorely missed by New York as they slogged through a painful second quarter in which the Celtics secured a halftime lead of 54-35.
So now it seems the pressure falls squarely on the shoulders of New York, who will want to put this series to bed instead of traveling to Boston yet again. Especially since their likely opponent next round — the Indiana Pacers — are currently knotted 2-2 against the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks, being the elder team that they are, need all of the rest they can get.
I predicted this series being Knicks-in-5 before it began (/pats self on back), and I am sticking to it now. Fans in New York are ravenous to witness a series-clinching win at the Garden, and with the return of J.R. Smith, the Knicks will simply have more firepower than the C’s.
But on Wednesday night when the two teams tip-off in New York, the Knicks should not take the Celtics lightly. After all, this is a team who only one year ago held a 3-2 lead on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.