Far from a one-man show, the Knicks shot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep in Game 3. Carmelo Anthony did his usual damage with a game-high 26 points, but his supporting cast was nothing short of brilliant.
Raymond Felton chipped in with 15 points, but he made a far greater impact with his ability to keep the offense flowing. He dished out 10 assists and three turnovers in his 35 minutes, and he constantly found his way around Boston's perimeter defenders (via Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com):
Felton's confidence handling the ball is at an all-time high for him right now, making hard cuts with crafty dribbling, etc. ... #Knicks— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) April 27, 2013
His backcourt mate, Pablo Prigioni, plugged the passing lanes on one end and added another perimeter threat on the other. He swiped five steals in the contest, one fewer than the entire Celtics team, but allowed himself to be a factor on both ends (via Jonah Ballow of NYKnicks.com):
Pablo has been reluctant to shoot this yr but tonight...he's 3-of-4 behind the arc...big buckets #Knicks— Jonah Ballow (@jonahballow) April 27, 2013
The contributions came from all parts of the roster.
Jason Kidd provided another steady hand to initiate the offense (six assists, no turnovers in 26 minutes) and bothered Boston's wings defensively. J.R. Smith (15 points) and Steve Novak (eight points) helped spread the floor, hitting 4-of-8 from outside. Iman Shumpert (eight rebounds, three thefts), Tyson Chandler (eight boards) and Kenyon Martin (four boards and a block in 17 minutes) helped hold the Celtics to just 40.0 percent shooting as a team.
The Knicks made a statement on Friday night, turning an emotionally charged arena into their home away from home (via NESN's Evans Clinchy):
The "MVP" chants for Carmelo Anthony are very, very audible. And we're in Boston. #whoa— Evans Clinchy (@evansclinchy) April 27, 2013
But was it loud enough to travel all the way down the East Coast to the defending champions, the Miami Heat?
At least one expert thought it should have been (via ESPN's Dick Vitale):
If I am the Heat there is a team in NY that will not be Cupcake City if they meet @spikeleewill be at his cheer leading best -Knicks legit— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) April 27, 2013
Truth be told, any opinions the Heat hold of the Knicks were forged a long time ago and won't deviate one way or another as the Knicks demoralize a depleted, aging Celtics squad.
But that doesn't mean Miami is oblivious to what's going on, either.
If the Heat didn't identify the Knicks as their greatest conference threat based on New York's 54-28 regular-season record, that's because they had tabbed them long before then after falling 3-1 in their season series:
New York's offense doesn't always sit well with the analytics crowd, but it's a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood.
The Knicks have a wealth of shooters to spread the defense, and a trio of offensive threats who can (on a good night at least) consistently beat their defenders out of isolations. Miami's team defense can swarm and suffocate a great offense, but it couldn't hold New York under the century mark in three of their four head-to-head meetings.
Who are the Heat's biggest threat in the East?
If Felton's on the attack and Smith is selective with his shot, New York's one-man show becomes a potent three-headed beast—potentially four if Amar'e Stoudemire can get healthy.
That baseline turnaround is SUCH a difficult shot. And it's basically Melo's favorite shot.— Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) April 27, 2013
While Boston's Rajon Rondo-less offense may not be the best barometer, the Knicks have been harassing opposing offenses for a while now. Boston has averaged 75.0 points in three games this series, and New York has surrendered more than 100 points just seven times since March 1.
If Friday night's game proved anything, it's that the history books have to be thrown out this time of year. Forget Boston's storied past; forget the fact that New York hasn't won a playoff series in more than a decade.
But don't forget what these Knicks are capable of.
I guarantee you the Heat haven't.