The New York Knicks are not alone in desperation after just one game of their first round seven game series.
Let's look at the losers. The Philadelphia 76ers really had no chance to upset the physical Chicago Bulls, with or without Derrick Rose. The Indiana Pacers were surprised by the Orlando Magic but can't be that anxious about rebounding against a team missing Dwight Howard. The Jazz are simply counting the games until the golf course beckons. The Dallas Mavericks should have defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder if not for a fortunate bounce on an ill-advised shot by Kevin Durant, so they probably feel pretty confident moving forward. The Denver Nuggets were snuffed out by Kobe Bryant, which couldn't have been shocking to them - they never beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a big spot. The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers? A fourth seed versus a fifth seed matchup could go either way on any night, though most believe the Grizzlies will prevail.
But the Knicks are a high-payroll, superstar dominated team that should have finished higher than a seventh seed, and they were blasted by 33 points in the first game. As they say in the basketball biz, it wasn't even that close. Their desperation has nothing to do with a series victory, but to leave the court after what promises to be a sweep with a trace of self-respect.
The Boston Celtics, however, should have little trouble with the overrated Atlanta Hawks. Awaiting them in Round Two, should they advance, will be a tough, but beatable Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls squad. The Celtics were playing dreadfully in the opener in Atlanta, but somehow crawled within four points late. If they lost a tight one at the end, it would have been survivable. But Rajon Rondo reacted like a madman to a bad call - are there any other kind by NBA referees? - and bumped the over-sensitive striped shirt. That probably translates to a one-game suspension, which would render the second game terribly difficult, particularly since Ray Allen is nursing old age.
History isn't kind to teams that lose the first two of a seven-game series. Rondo better hope the league is sympathetic to his position on the Celtics, basketball royalty. Don't be surprised if he somehow avoids a suspension based on that league agenda. But if he doesn't, the Celtics might be cooked.
Glenn Vallach has been a New York Knick fan since the days of Howie Komives and Walt Bellamy, when he regularly boarded the IRT Subway at 180th Street in the Bronx for a trip to the Garden to see his heroes. Since the last championship in 1973, he has alternately yearned and suffered, hoped and lamented...he's waited long enough.