The Furnace scored some tickets to see the Knicks take on the Celtics, a heated rivalry to be sure, and was fortunate enough to witness not only a Knicks win on Saturday, but a Garden revival- full of the ‘Pomp and Cirumstance’ that has helped to make Madison Square Garden “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” It brought back many memories of when the Garden was the hottest ticket in New York!
Stephen A. Smith, broadcasting for ESPN just prior to the game at Knicks legend Walt Frazier’s restaurant, Clyde’s Wine & Dine, was heard urging Knick fans to be at the game early, before the intros, and to show the team that the time is NOW! He begged his listeners not to be like the fans in South Beach who traditionally don’t show up for a Heat game until a half hour after it’s started. By game time Saturday, about a third of the seats were still empty but shortly thereafter, the sellout crowd of 19,763 was there in full force and all in attendance, save for a small smattering of Celtic diehard fans, were urging their team to “Play for Now!” The Knicks ‘theme’ for the 2012-2013 season.
To say that the Garden was rockin’ would be an understatement. It helped re-defined the words “Playoff atmosphere.” However, there was the awkward moment before the game began when Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce were introduced before they made a couple of short comments on the Boston tragedy. They came out from opposite sides of the court and never looked at each other nor shook hands.
During the game the fans outdid themselves with chants and expletives. They roared when John McEnroe was given a screen shot. Same for newly Hall of Fame inductee Bernard King, and likewise Larry “Mr. 4-point play” Johnson. However the loudest ‘boos’ of the evening came when a shot of Jets QB Mark Sanchez sitting court side appeared on the live big board screen. It was so loud that all Sanchez could do was put on an embarrassing half-smile.
And then there were the throngs of fans who were totally disenchanted with many of the refs calls & miscalls which prompted a hearty rendition of “These refs $#@&!” “These refs &%$@!” These refs @#$&!” It must have worked because in the fourth quarter there were hardly any calls made to speak of on either side.
The last 2:30 of the game found most of the 19,763 on their feet roaring their approval for a win that was imminent and then when the last few seconds ticked away, the big Garden board look like this:
Then came something New York Knicks fans haven’t seen in quite some time. As soon as the game ended, the Garden floor began filling with players, photographers and fans swelling in droves from all angles as if it were a game seven victory in the NBA Finals. It was a welcome sight for the much beleaguered team that hasn’t had much to cheer about in many post-seasons over the past decade.
We took away some interesting and random observations as well as some stats that you might enjoy reading. Here are a few of them…
1. Raymond Felton missed four lay-ups. If he makes them the Knicks probably win by 15!
2. A rusty Tyson Chandler,playing in just his 4th game in the last 21, could only muster up 5 boards & 0 points in 20 minutes.
3. Iman Shumpert stayed in foul trouble throughout most of the game.
4. A nervous Chris Copeland, playing in his first playoff game, looked tentative shooting 0-3 from the floor with one steal.
5. Jason Kidd, the Knicks’ future Hall of Fame point guard, has played more postseason games (147) than any other player in the Eastern Conference. In the whole NBA, only Derek Fisher, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have seen more postseason action. His playoff smarts during game one helped the Knicks from letting the game get too much out of hand by his contributions which included eight points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
6. Kenyon Martin’s near double-double (10 points -9 rebounds) plus his tenacity & experience, helped the Knicks hold the Celtics to just 25 second half points and only 8 in the final quarter.
Apparently the Knicks are indeed “Playing for Now!”