NBA Playoffs 2011: Why the New York Knicks Shouldn't Panic Yet
The Knicks have gotten off to a rocky start against the Celtics, dropping two hard-fought games at the TD Garden to bring the series to 2-0 in favor of the men in green. The Knicks have come out fighting hard, but have so far fallen short and some have already lost hope. Doubters have begun to say that they will be swept by the veteran Celtics once they return to Madison Square Garden. However, this is no reason for the Knicks to panic yet, with these reasons explaining it all.
Shaq Sidelined Yet Again
Big Diesel's motor is still broken
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Shaq, the Celtics former starting center, is still out from his calf injury that he suffered just before the end of the season. Although nearing 40 years of age, Shaq can still be effective, especially against the Knicks' undersized front line. Without him anchoring the paint, the Celtics become a much smaller team, having to play the aging Jermaine O'Neal and jumpshooting Nenand Kristic. Both of these centers are serviceable, but don't provide someone in the paint to grab rebounds and cause trouble for the opposing team with their sheer size and strength. Shaq being out has helped the Knicks tremendously, especially in my next point.
The Knicks Are Out-Rebounding the Celtics
Ronny coming up with yet another NY rebound
After getting beaten on the glass by the reboundingly challenged Celtics, the Knicks came out with a ferocity on the boards that I would like to see more often. They dominated the offensive glass all game long, giving themselves extra possessions and keeping the game close despite their lackluster shooting. They were even able to do all this without Stoudemire, their top rebounder, and Billups, a good rebounding guard. If they can maintain that same aggressiveness throughout the rest of the series, I see major problems coming for Boston.
The Knicks Are Playing Great Defense
Jefferies bodying up with Garnett
The Knicks are not known as a very defensively oriented team, but they have shown some fire on that end of the court throughout this series, holding the Celtics mostly in check. They've brought a lot of intensity on that side of the court and are faring much better in that area than anyone thought possible. I also love that they are forcing Rondo to shoot jumpers because it really disrupts the flow of Boston's offense. They just need to make sure that he is kept out of the paint, which really only happened because Toney Douglas was in foul trouble the entire game. If they can keep up this effort on defense and continue to rebound with intensity as I mentioned in the other slide, then they have a good chance of beating Boston.
The Celtics Can't Stop Melo and Amar'e
These two have caused Boston headaches throughout the series
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Although the Knicks lost the first two games, it has proved something to Boston: they cannot guard Melo or Amar'e. The first game, Amar'e was unstoppable, going for 28 points and 11 rebounds. Sadly, he was the only one in the Big Three who came to play, with Melo and Billups offering up meager stat lines. Then, in Game 2, with both Billups and Stoudemire hurt, Melo came up big, pouring in 42 points and grabbing 17 rebounds while also dishing out 6 assists. If these two can play at that kind of level at the same time, they will be nearly impossible for Boston to beat. The Celtics barely escaped when one of the two was hot, so what will happen if both get hot?
Melo will have reason to smile soon
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
As you can see, the Knicks still have a lot going for them, even though it may seem like the Celtics have all of the momentum. No one should count this team out yet. They are simply too dangerous for any team to sweep in a 7-game series, but I don't think that they'll only win one game. I see this series going to at least 6 or 7 games before being decided. These are not the same Knicks that lost to Boston during the season, and it would be foolish for people to keep treating them like they are.