Once again, the Celtics had the lead at halftime at Madison Square Garden only to be crushed in the last two quarters by the Knicks. The Celtics struggles were as predictable as a Katy Perry song once you saw the Knicks come out firing in the third quarter with a 25-4 point run. In the NBA playoffs, usually the team with the best player prevails, and Carmelo Anthony is currently playing with as much confidence as Liam Gallagher. The Knicks now have a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, the Celtics will have an emotional crowd at the TD Garden on Friday considering that it will be their first home game since the explosions at Boston Marathon, but it will likely not be enough considering how poorly they are playing. With rumors that Garnett will retire to his house in Malibu at end of season, and Paul Pierce having an option in his contract to become a free agent this could be the end of the Celtics as we currently now them.
Let's look at the key's to the game:
Carmelo Anthony has been sensational in the first two games of the series. Anthony followed up his 36 points from Saturday with a much better shooting percentage in route to 34 points on only 23 shots taken. Should the Knicks advance past this round, it will only the second playoff series Melo will have won in his career. He seems like a man on a mission to get his first NBA title.
The Knicks got back underrated PG Prigioni (a 36 year old NBA rookie) after he missed he first game. While he does not put up big stats, he allows coach Woodson to employ his two point guard lineups more frequently, Raymond Felton seems to be way more comfortable with this formation and he had an excellent game with 16 points.
JR Smith who just won the NBA 6th man of the year, had a much more consistent game than Saturday. He shot close to 50% and was the main reason the Knicks were only 6 points at halftime despite playing very poorly in first half.
The Celtics were hoping to get Garnett more involved but early foul trouble caused them to go back to drawing board (coach Doc Rivers described the two early fouls on Garnett as horrendous). The Celtics got very little from their other two starting big men, Jeff Green (who was so invisible last night you would have though Radiohead wrote "How to Dissapear Completely" about him) and Brandon Bass, so could not capitalize on fact Knicks center Tyson Chandler has been shaky in the series so far.
While the Celtics got much better contribution from their bench compared to game 1, they had to rely too much on SG Jordan Crawford who is as selfish as spoiled teenager at her sweet 16 party. I honestly have no idea why he gets way more minutes than Courtney Lee, who is a much better ball distributor and defender.
While the Knicks were rightfully favorites going into the series, it's still rather surprising how much they dominate the Celtics when they go into 5th gear. Pierce gave a valiant effort defensively last night and tried to carry the load offensively. Garnett just seems to have too much mileage on his body to dominate games like he used. The Celtics better hope they get a lift from their home crowd to avoid the end of an era.