What’s happened to the Knicks? How could they been up 3-0 and then lose the next two? Can they even close out the Celtics in this series? And, more importanly, could we be witnessing the 2004 “Boston Red Sox-like Celtics” vieing to become the first NBA team in history to come from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series? Will history repeat itself?
Think about this stat: Just 11% of all NBA teams who were down 3-0 even make it to a game 6! This is what the Celtics have already accomplished and all we want to do is break down some of the reasons why and how we have gotten to this point.
For openers, we were at Game 1 at the Garden and can tell you that the Knicks played with a bit of a swagger, especially in the second half. That confidence extended into games 2 and 3 as the Celtics never scored 80 or more points in any of those games.
And then, with a comfortable lead near the last half of the 4th quarter of game 3, J.R. Smith got suckered into losing his cool after jawing with Jason Terry for most of the game. He elbowed the veteran, got ejected, and received a one game suspension from David Stern. The swagger left the court along with J.R. Smith and hasn’t returned in spite of the Knicks amazing comeback from being down 20 in game 4 to force the Celtics into OT.
That act of pure stupidity by Smith, with his team up by double-digits at the time, was reminiscent of what took place with the Knicks in another heated rivalry back in 1997. The Knicks were up 3-1 in that series with the hated Miami Heat when, in game 5 P.J. Brown took offense over Charlie Ward’s attempt to gain position for a rebound. Brown flipped Ward over his head and body-slammed him, and a melee ensued.
Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Alan Houston and John Starks left the Knicks bench and when the smoked settled, Ewing, Houston and Ward were suspended for game 6 and Johnson and Starks for game 7. The Heat went on to win games 5, 6, and 7. That series, as this current one with the Celtics, was viewed as unwinnable at the time these actions took place.
Did Pat Riley tell P.J. Brown to instigate a brawl in the hopes of having the Knicks players lose their cool and face probable suspensions? Was Jason Terry ‘urged’ to incite a loose cannon like J.R. Smith? You be the judge.
This much is for certain. The Knicks wearing black at last night’s game 5 vs the Celtics, as if they were dressing for Boston’s funeral, did incite and infuriate coach Mike Woodson as well as a lot of Knick and basketball fans alike. The Knicks should stop the nonsense, put their collective noses to the grindstone, and do their best to try and win this series.
They have no reason to act so cocky. They ain’t won nuthin’ yet so maybe they should just settle down and play the same kind of ball they did in their first three games. And for those who think that the Knicks might have lost the last two because Chris Copeland didn’t play or Steve Novak didn’t play enough, give that a rest as well.
Chris Copeland has played a combined 24 minutes in this series shooting 0-5 with 1 rebound. Steve Novak has only been on the court for 31 minutes; 4-6 shooting for 10 points. (He also came out of last night’s game because of back spasms).
No, the Knicks need to remember what got them to 3-0 at the beginning of these playoffs in the first place; hard nosed defense, distribution of the basketball, and that ‘swagger’. All of which was lost to some extent with Smith’s suspension.
If you’re a Knicks fan, all you can hope for is that this series will not be the second coming of the 2004 Red Sox vs Yankees World Series, and that the team will not fall into any ‘traps’ during the remaining game(s); verbal or physical… otherwise history will just might repeat itself…