The Knicks cruised to a win over the Celtics last night, holding Paul Pierce and company to a paltry 71 points in a total route and getting awesome production from Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to take a 2-0 series lead.
Allow me to start by putting down a few words about my Celtics. I would just like to whine a little bit about the game plan last night, or, at the very least, what wound up happening. Paul Pierce spent most of the night being covered by the likes of Pablo Prigioni and Ray Felton (and no, Felton does not make up for his lack of height with the fatness of his face). With Pierce being the C’s only scorer—Green can be too, but he certainly wasn’t last night—that has to be the matchup they exploit. While the Knicks kept giving the rock to a man named Melo, the C’s simply didn’t get the ball to Pierce on every possession the way they should have, and when Paul got the round, orange, leather-covered piece of figurative gold he didn’t seem that interested in turning and shooting, despite the fact that when he did just that he usually scored. At some point in this series, for the Celtics to have any chance of stretching things out and turning this into an actual series, Paul Pierce needs to start getting the ball and putting up shots at a high (Kobe-esque or even…..Antoine Walker-esque) volume. Some trips to the free throw line might be nice too.
Now on to the team with the strange name (people don’t point out what a ridiculous word “Knickerbockers” is enough) and the commanding lead of the series.
The Knicks may be a strangely and sloppily put together team with a stubborn coach who had trouble getting his last team (ATL) to play with any semblance of togetherness, but the team that calls Madison Square Garden home has become the rare NBA team that is better than the sum of its parts. I have been thoroughly impressed by the way they have trounced the Celtics in games one and two, using airtight defense to frustrate and confuse the C’s. Looking down the road, I can’t say for certain whether they have the size or depth to beat Frank Vogel’s Pacers, nor do I think the old (actually, more like Jurassic) men from Boston will go down easy (a miraculous comeback is hard to foresee, however, unless KG returns to form, Paul Pierce revisits past memories when he made MSG his playground—ya know, by turning back into aggressive PP, and J.R. Smith decides to stop hitting video game shots). But the Knicks are hot and the city (or megalopolis if that tickles your fancy) of New York finally has a contender, and that’s something.