After a poor outing in Game 1, Carmelo Anthony rebounded and fileted the Celtics for a playoff career-high 42 points and 17 rebounds without Chauncey Billups and Amar'e Stoudemire largely the entire night.
'Melo's brilliance will be etched in the record books, as he became the first Knicks player in playoff history to register 40 points 15 rebounds and six assists. Anthony was outstanding, but for the second straight game New York's reserves failed them.
New York's bench went 8-for-27 in Game 2, after producing 22 points on 9-of-23 shooting in Game 1. Former Kansas State Wildcat, Bill Walker, struggled mightily and proved to be the main culprit, shooting an unforgivable 0-for-11, including 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Even core player Landry Fields has underachieved, with only one rebound the entire series and has gone 2-for-7 without a three-pointer in over 30 minutes of action.
The Knicks lone bright spot off the bench turned out to be a bittersweet Jarred Jeffries, who after giving New York the lead on a lay-up off a broken play, allowed a Kevin Garnett game-winning hook, which restored the Celtics lead, and had his attempted pass stolen by Garnett to collectively seal the game. So in essence, Jeffries was part of the problem as well.
In addition to their horrendous shooting woes, ball movement was also a problem. With scorers like Amare Stoudermire, Carmelo Anthony and also Chauncey Billups, the ball must be spread and swung around the perimeter until a clear and consensus shot is found.The Knicks' bench must realize it is a luxury to have elite scorers as teammates and help maximize their contributions.
They must also realize that when the ball comes their way, they must be ready to fire and release with confidence. Easing a star player's workload is an underrated aspect of the postseason and will allow the star to recharge and be prepared for the next possession, or to be focused on switches for defense.
Heading into Game 3, Mike D'Antoni must preach cooperation and the understanding of reliance on, and of, one another. The bench will be thrust into a more important role with the shaky medical reports of Amar'e and Billups. The Knicks will need to lean on each other and the home crowd as they return to the familiar den of Madison Square Garden, which will host a playoff game for the first time since 2003-04.
With the Boston Celtics leading 2-0, Game 3 is Friday in New York.