COMMENTARY | The New York Knicks, its players all with grim faces, trudged off the court as Boston Celtics fans cheered enthusiastically at the TD Garden. In the last minutes of overtime, Jason Terry had helped clinch the win with superb shooting. Boston had just saved itself from elimination. But Knicks fans shouldn't be discouraged, as the wind is blowing to the advantage of New York next game.
At TD Garden, the Knicks fans in the stadium stayed quiet, with demure expressions. They only think: Why? Why have we lost so suddenly? There are several factors that can be attributed to the loss. Most of them shouldn't be issues next game.
J.R. Smith, often used by coach Mike Woodson as a secondary scoring option, was suspended this game for elbowing Terry in Game 3. "J.R.'s a big piece of what we do," said Woodson after the game.
The Knicks were missing the extra kick on offense that Smith, the Sixth Man of the Year, usually brings. However, he'll be back for Wednesday, and will likely put a dent in Boston's defense as he is expected to.
Carmelo Anthony, their primary scoring option, was pressured to fill the gap as well by shooting often. He did not have an efficient game (10-35 FG, 0-7 3PT), but still managed to contribute 36 points, largely because of free throws. This is probably simply a bad game for him; he should be back to normal by Wednesday.
Another factor is Raymond Felton. The former Charlotte Bobcat also helped fill the gap left by Smith, finishing with 27 points. Unlike Anthony, this game he scored quite efficiently (10-21 FG). It looks like he could be starting a scoring streak, if he keeps up with his smooth jump shots and layups.
The Knicks should be set for offense, if Anthony and Smith do their usual scoring, and Felton continues to be prolific on offense. But what about defense?
The defense of the Knicks has improved since the start of the season. They have good defenders like Tyson Chandler (former Defensive Player of the Year), Iman Shumpert (arguably one of the best defensive guards in the league), and Kenyon Martin (an important asset since Chandler was injured). It will be difficult to stifle the scoring of Boston players Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, and Jason Terry, but definitely possible.
Although their offense and defense should be mostly repaired for the next game, there are still some things they must watch out for, on both ends of the floor. These few problems shouldn't prevent the win, but still should be carefully watched out for by the team as a whole.
Offensively, the Knicks need to truly play smart (as easy as that sounds), and not take shots that are too difficult. This was a major issue for Anthony.
Defensively, if they want to win, they must focus on turnovers. They turned the ball over far too many times, allowing the Celtics to shoot more shots as well as clearer, more open shots. This is a deadly combination when mixed with the fact that Boston was shooting especially well.
The rhythm of New York's game was somewhat interrupted by several things, such as Smith's suspension and Anthony's inaccuracy. However, next game should be as easy as the first three games of the series. The Knicks just need to get back into this rhythm and do what they were doing before. The players are motivated to get past the first round; they haven't since 2000. On Wednesday, everything will fall into place for them. They can, should, and will beat the Celtics.
Tony Hong lives just outside New York and has been watching the Knicks for many years.
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