NBA Atlantic 2011: What the Knicks Showed the Rest of the League on Xmas

Francisco RiveraCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2011

The Celtics had no answer for Melo on Xmas
The Celtics had no answer for Melo on XmasChristopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

The New York Knicks showed the opposition that they are for real this year. Sunday's battle at Madison Square Garden with the Boston Celtics—a team that swept them four games to one in the 2010-2011 playoffs—ended with a two-point win for the Knicks, 106-104.

Though this was only the first game of the season, it quickly became a matchup that was played with playoff-like intensity.

Knicks fans received a wonderful present in the form of the team's first win. The win was secured due to the fact the Knicks not only had 11 blocks, but added nine steals, as well.

As the saying goes, "Defense wins games and championships." Knicks defenders lived up to that by collectively putting in a solid day's work. Tyson Chandler made his presence felt with his team-high six blocks.

The Knicks' big-name players stepped up in a huge way. Carmelo Anthony showed why the Knicks brought him in: He pretty much single-handedly carried the team as he scored 20 points in the fourth quarter. He demanded the ball as a true superstar would. Anthony is the Mariano Rivera (a closer) of Knicks and showed that he can, and will, take over a game to get his team a win.

Amare Stoudemire showed off some impressive range. He also showed he can handle the duties of a "stretch four" after hitting both of his three-point attempts. 

In the Christmas Day win, the Knicks also showed that they will not back down from anyone. Baron Davis, a point guard in the wings, stepped right into some end-of-game foolishness and immediately let Kevin Garnett check him. That was after Garnett's cowardly act of pushing Bill Walker in the neck and face after he missed a game-tying shot.

Knicks fans must have been thrilled to see Davis grab Garnett's jersey with both hands. No one from either team, including Garnett himself, did anything to stop Davis. They just accepted the verbal scolding. Both teams are creating a new rivalry that will be enjoyed by fans in the upcoming years.

The Knicks showed that they do have some depth. Possible key subs—Mike Bibby, Iman Shumpert and Jared Jeffries—all have injuries that will give other some others playing time over the next couple of weeks.

Josh Harrellson, Renaldo Balkman and Bill Walker will find themselves on the court more often and they all look ready to produce. The Knicks also showed that they can both run the ball and run some half-court sets with decent success. Once again, it's one game and 65 more to go.