It was all set up for the Knicks to make history. Two games against the Celtics that took them to the buzzer. Two games where they overachieved, and did what no one though they could do- upset the Celtics. Two well-played games. Two games where they lost key players to injuries. The second game, where Carmelo went wild and carried the team on his back. He was a leader among leaders...incredible. Two games where they out-played and out-hustled the Celtics.
And the third game was in Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks. Amare Stoudemire who could barely walk inspired the team by being in the starting lineup. It was to be a Willis Reed type moment. The crowd was crazy. The Garden energy was amazing. The Knicks would make history. They would win game two and win game three, and New York would be buzzing...the media would be talking about the Knicks as a miracle-type team...
And then the game started, and the Knicks looked like bums. Like a team that didn't even belong in the playoffs. They were out-played , out-hustled, out-coached and outed as a mediocre team.
The only positives- Jared Jeffries was better on offense, aggressive and even effective at times. Bill Walker played a better game as well. Shawne Williams led the team in scoring and got his stroke back. And Amare proved once again why he is a leader- inspiring the team by showing up in such bad shape. I know. I have had similar back injuries. You can't even sit on a chair without having pain that makes you howl like wolf. Believe me, it's horrible. And yet, here was this man playing basket ball in that condition? Wow.
The rest of the players were rendered ineffective by a clearly superior team in the Celtics. For the first time in the series, the Celtics looked like Champions. They did everything right. They were on. While the Knicks looked like an 8th seed that squeaked into the playoffs with a losing record...one of those teams that don't belong.
I blame D'Antoni for not getting his team mentally prepared because they weren't. I blame the players because they didn't hustle. They let the Celtics get offensive rebound after offensive rebound, over and over again. Right from the start you could tell something was off. They were outclassed completely from the opening tip.
Was this the same team that played so magnificently in Boston? That played DEFENSE??? The only thing that stopped them in those two games was their inexperience and the Celtics experience. that was the deciding factor. But last night, it was more than that. The Knicks reverted back to the team that they have been since the trade. Inconsistent, mentally and physically soft, NO defense, and not willing to give up their bodies to hustle like they did in game one and game two.
I've said before that the only way the Knicks would win this series was to out-play and out-hustle the Celtics. They did that in the first two games. They disappointed in game three. ESPECIALLY, when you consider what Amare did to even show up. He was physically ineffective, sure, but even Superman in that condition could not have been any more effective. His presence was supposed to ignite the team, and yet, they played as if he was missing and had no hope. Like they burned themselves out in Boston, and gave up when they lost game two.
Even if they win game four, they are done in five. Feh.
Anyone for Mark Jackson for coach?