The New York Knicks played two completely different games to start the series with the Boston Celtics, but both ended with the same result. The Knicks find themselves in a two game hole after blowing a lead in the final seconds of both Games 1 and 2.
Amar’e Stoudemire was dominating Game 1. He finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, but never saw the ball in the Knicks’ final seven possessions of the game.
With about 37 seconds left in the game, Toney Douglas took one of those three-pointers that makes all of us say “NO NO NO…YES” when he drains an ugly one, which gave the Knicks an 85-82 lead.
The ensuing inbound was typical of the Knicks’ defense all season long, but atypical of the stellar defense they had played all night long. Rondo threw the ball toward the basket and hit a wide-open Kevin Garnett for an alley-oop to bring the Celtics within one.
Anthony would be called for a questionable off-the-ball offensive foul on the next play, giving the ball back to the Celtics with a chance to take the lead, which they would. Douglas raced over to guard Ray Allen when he got the ball and appeared to trip over Garnett’s foot, leaving Allen wide-open to nail a three to take the lead.
Without a timeout, the Knicks would take the ball all the way down the court, slowly, and with the ball in his hands, ‘Melo would try the game winning three from 25 feet away and a hand in his face. Brick. Knicks lose 87-85.
Billups’ strained left knee would hold him out for Game 2 and likely the rest of the series. This was a great start going into Tuesday night’s game.
Stoudemire would be the next Knick to find himself on the trainer’s table. Stat would leave the game in the second quarter with back spasms, never to return.
Even after Stoudemire’s injury, the Knicks were able to take a one-point lead going into the half. Anthony was having a fantastic game and finished the half with a double-double. He seemed to be the only one scoring in the half, but the Knicks still held the lead.
Things would change quickly in the third. The Celtics would go up 74-63 at one point, but the quarter would finish with the Knicks down seven.
The Knicks caught fire again to start the final frame and would tied the game at 76 less than four minutes in. Neither team would hold more than a three-point lead from this point on. Everyone from Jared Jeffries to Roger Mason was making shots for the Knicks in the fourth, but Rondo (30 points) was keeping the Celtics in the game.
With 19 seconds to go, Jeffries drove to the hoop and made the best move of his career to give the Knicks a 93-92 lead. Garnett would end up with the ball on the next play, and would make a shot with Jeffries in his face to go up one. The Knicks would never get the game-winning shot off after Jeffries turned the ball over under the hoop, and the Knicks would fall by a score of 96-93.
The Knicks allowed Anthony’s 42 points and 17 rebounds go to waste in Game 2. After taking plenty of criticism after missing the final shot in Game 1, Anthony stepped up only to have his team fall short once again.
The Knicks have played some excellent defense in both of these games, but were unable to keep it up in the final minutes of each contest. Mike D’Antoni’s team has drawn more fouls and rebounded better than their opponents, but execution at the end is where they have struggled.
It is hard to get too upset after Game 2, since the Knicks played without two of their stars and still kept the game within reach. Stoudemire should play in Game 3 at the Garden, where the Knicks can definitely turn things up in front of the hometown crowd that has been waiting seven long years for a home postseason showdown.