The New York Knicks went Voltron all over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. Carmelo Anthony was the head (as usual). Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith were the legs. Kenyon Martin became the arms. Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert formed the toes.
In the end, the Celtics got smashed by a team that put it all together in the second half – again.
Frankly, the second half dominance the Knicks exhibited was necessary, considering how badly they stumbled the first two quarters. The Celtics appeared to be on its way. Jeff Green was asserting himself offensively. Paul Pierce was dining on the Knicks’ small starting backcourt, and Jason Terry found his Dallas Mavericks Championship form by hitting two 3-pointers in the quarter.
In all, they shot 56 percent and blanked the Knicks 11-0 in fast break points. They went into the locker room up by six.
Then, the Knicks went away from the one-on-one, isolation basketball. They relied on the precision passing of Felton and Prigioni. That created good shot opportunities. Shumpert hit two 3-pointers that catalyzed a 24-4 Knicks run and Anthony, whose jumper was off most of the second quarter, found it again on his way to notching 34 points and a plus/minus of +22.
Martin closed the door on the Celtics with his arms. He blocked four shots – huge, soul-withering plays that finished the Celtics. And J.R. was J.R., hitting shots that had an impressive degree of difficulty to them. He did hit a 36-foot, buzzer-beating three to close out the first quarter. His celebratory dance after the shot was GIF-worthy.
Anyway, this much is clear: the changing of the guard in the NBA
Birds are circling the collective head of this Celtics team. They clearly miss Rajon Rondo and simply can’t score enough points to keep up with the Knicks’ lead guns, Anthony and Smith.
For the second straight game, the Celtics offense sagged in the second half. This time, the team scored only 23 points on 7-of-36 shooting after half-time.
One subplot to monitor for the remainder of this series is to see how Kevin Garnett responds. He was taunted unmercifully by the Madison Square Garden crowd, which kept chanting, “KG sucks!” He got into early foul trouble and was not as much of a factor in the game as his stat line indicated (12 points, 11 rebounds in 24 minutes).
When he was on the floor, it was painfully noticeable that the Garnett of today is a far, far cry from the one who could roll out of bed and notch 24 points and 14 rebounds a game 10 years ago.
Pierce wasn’t much better, either. Those jumpers that would fall with ease in the final quarter a few years ago — shots that usually crippled the Knicks’ playoff hopes — clanged against the rim and backboard on Tuesday. It reminded me of a line from the basketball film White Men Can’t Jump: Pierce was shooting so many bricks he was building a house. He went 8 of 19 and scored 18 points (three in the final quarter).
Boston is still a proud franchise and head coach Doc Rivers is master motivator. It would be foolish to count the Celtics out for Game 3, where it will play in its home arena.
Still, if the Knicks can come together and play a complete game, cutting down on its turnovers and creating better shot opportunities, then the Celtics are done — banished from the playoffs.
Tacuma R. Roeback is a New York Knicks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+