After what seemed like forever with the trash talking and the media writing off Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks, the Knicks finally took care of business and silenced the critics. New York won a tough road game in Boston to take the series, 4-2, and advance to the second round of the playoffs—their first series win since 2000. But they didn’t make it easy on themselves.
The Knicks jumped out to a comfortable 3-0 series lead, but the Celtics made them sweat, winning games 4 and 5. Then Game 6 happened. Again, the Knicks made it hard on themselves; they were up by as much as 26 points in the fourth quarter, and watched it almost slip out of their hands, but did just enough in the end to hold off the Celtics and win, 88-80.
This win was a complete team effort. It wasn’t just about Carmelo Anthony, who had another bad-shooting night, and it wasn’t about J.R. Smith. The team’s defense played amazing, shutting the Celtics down for the majority of the game. Four of their five starters finished the game in double figures.
Pablo Prigioni, the 35-year old rookie, got hot from the perimeter early in the game, sinking three of six from beyond the arc. After a slow start for J.R. Smith, he finally started making some shots and finished the game with 13 points. Raymond Felton added 11 points with seven assists, while Iman Shumpert contributed 17 points. Shumpert had another big night; the guard showed his defensive prowess, shutting down Paul Pierce, and also knocked down some key three’s.
Carmelo Anthony wasn’t at his best, again, making just 7-of-22 shots. But Anthony did come up big when the Knicks needed it. He knocked down a back-breaking 3-pointer with 1:40 left, increasing the lead back up to 84-75, and they didn’t look back.
The Knicks should be happy they finally exorcised their postseason demons and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, but they still have a lot of work to do. Next up: the Indiana Pacers.