The New York Knicks stumble into the TD Garden tonight for a crucial game 6 against the rival Boston Celtics. Just days ago it seemed like the Knicks were poised to sweep this Celtics team – finally closing the door on the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce era in Boston.
It’s incredible how quickly things have changed.
In the history of the NBA 104 teams have found themselves down 3-0 in a best of seven series. Not one of those teams has ever come back to win the series, and only 3 have been able to force a game 7. Suddenly the New York Knicks find themselves as the team with their backs against wall, as they desperately try to fight off the Boston Celtics and avoid landing on the wrong side of history.
What to watch for
For the New York Knicks and their superstar Carmelo Anthony to avoid becoming the first NBA team to choke away a 3-0 series lead they are going to have to make some changes. Ultimately these changes boil down to one thing – Better ball movement.
The New York Knicks ran isolation on 16% of their offensive plays during the regular season, the highest rate in the NBA, and well above the league average of 10%. In the postseason, the Knicks have upped that rate to 27%. Despite the high use of isolation plays in the regular season, the Knicks were the fifth-most efficient team in that category, averaging 0.87 points per play. In the postseason, the Knicks 0.71 points per play in isolation is second worst among playoff teams.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Carmelo Anthony has been in isolation on 45% of his plays throughout this series, up from 26% during the regular season.
If the Knicks are looking for a different result tonight in game 6 they are going to have to get away from playing so much isolation, which will lead to open looks for not only Carmelo Anthony, but the rest of the Knicks team as well. If the Knicks cannot get better ball movement the only thing that will be able to save them is a hot shooting night from their stars, something they’re seemingly due for after Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith went a combined 11-38 from the field in game 5.
Expect Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks to come out fighting in game 6 as they must realize that losing this series would be a validation for so many in the national media that simply do not believe that this team has what it takes. Carmelo Anthony, who certainly has his share of critics, must embrace the fact that if the Knicks lose this series he will never be able to recover from a reputation standpoint. His harshest critics will be circling like vultures on Sunday if this series goes to game 7 and we know that neither Carmelo or the New York Knicks want to see that happen.
Game 1 - Knicks 85 Celtics 78
Game 2 - Knicks 87 Celtics 71
Game 3 - Knicks 90 Celtics 76
Game 4 - Celtics 97 Knicks 90 OT
Game 5 - Celtics 92 Knicks 86
Game 6 – Fri May 3 at Celtics, 7pm ESPN
Game 7 * Sun May 5 Boston at Knicks, TBD TBD
The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics have played 66 playoff games
Boston leads the all-time series 36-30
Longest Winning Streak by Knicks: 3 games
Longest Winning Streak by Celtics: 4 games
Most Points Scored by Knicks: 135 (May 4, 1990)
Most Points Scored by Celtics: 157 (April 28, 1990)
Largest Margin of Victory by Knicks: +33 (April 13, 1973)
Largest Margin of Victory by Celtics: +30 (March 21, 1967)