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Knicks Must Regain Footing Against Rugged Celtics

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The Knicks prepared for a funeral at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, instead they were present at their own wake. The Boston Celtics have breathed new life into a series many – especially those in Gotham – thought was over just a few days ago with their 92-86 win at the Garden. Now, the Knicks may not even get a chance to celebrate their first series win since 2000, when they defeated Toronto in the first round and Miami in the second, before coming up short against Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals.

As the series shifts back to Boston on Friday night for Game 6, so to does the momentum. The Celtics let their game do the talking yesterday, and once the Knicks cooled off from their fast 11-0 start in Game 5, it was all green from that point on and Boston now find themselves in a situation where they could possibly level this series 3-3 tomorrow. Boston’s game spoke volumes.

“No shenanigans, no nothing,” said Boston’s defensive anchor Kevin Garnett. “We know what they running, they know what we’re running. Just all out: Who wants this? That’s all it is.

“They [Knicks] came out and they talked. The discipline of being consistent with who we are, it’s important not to fall into that.”

Even though they won’t admit it, the Knicks must surely be a little shaken up at the moment. No NBA team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win, but these proud Celtics are hell bent on becoming the first. They outplayed the Knicks – they were more physical, clamped down on defense, and got key contributions from guys like Jason Terry (17 points, 5/9 3 PT) and Jeff Green (18 points, 5/9 F/G). Now it’s up to New York to respond.

After the game, Carmelo Anthony (22 points, 8/24 F/G) said that New York didn’t expect Boston to go down without a fight.

“I told you from Game 1 this wasn’t going to be an easy breeze or a walk in the park,” Anthony said. “Those guys were going to fight. They threw a couple of punches, and now it is time for us to do the same.”

If the Knicks are to counter the Celtics in front of their rabid fans on Friday they will most certainly need a better shooting night from their star Anthony – who followed up his 10/35 shooting in Game 4 with an 8/24 on Wednesday – , and especially from J.R. Smith, the Sixth Man of the Year who on Monday claimed the series would have been over had he played in Game 4 (he missed due to a suspension).
Smith missed his first 10 shots from the floor, didn’t make his first basket until less than three minutes remained in the game, and finished with 14 points on 3/14 shooting from the floor. He maintains the Knicks haven’t given up control of the series yet.
“No, I don’t think so at all. If anything, they did a great job of swinging the pressure back on us,” said Smith.

Head coach Mike Woodson echoed the players sentiments that there was no need to panic.
“I think we’re fine,” he said after the game. “Sure we would’ve loved to close it out and move on, but nobody said it would be easy.”

It certainly won’t be easy in a hostile environment like TD Bankworth Garden, and as for the ‘funeral’ outfits? Well, the Knicks say they won’t be bringing those on the road.
“We was going to a funeral, man, but it looks like we got buried,” Smith said. “I’m done with this black stuff.”

It’s time for New York to let their game do the talking.
Image via: Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News
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