The New York Knicks were on the verge of becoming a sports trivia fact, a cautionary tale to swaggering sports clubs that took seemingly weaker (or older) opponents for granted. Thankfully, superstar Carmelo Anthony hit a timely shot to halt his team’s collapse in the fourth quarter.
With its win Friday night, the Knicks eliminated its nemesis in the Boston Celtics.
It seemed like black suits were the appropriate attire to commemorate the Celtics’ free fall near the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter, when the Knicks went up by 26 points. Then suddenly, a tempest blew through TD Garden. And its name was Avery Bradley. The Celtics guard became a whir. He racked up steals and converted two transition layups and a dunk. He put a charge back into the Celtics’ home arena. Teammate Jeff Green followed his lead.
Green started out the fourth quarter with 10 points. He had 21 at the 4:06 mark after completing a pair of free throws. The Knicks lead was cut to four. And Knicks fans, the world over, were sick.
But that was the past. And Anthony made sure it stayed there when he hit a crucial three-pointer at the 1:43 mark to halt the Celtics comeback. The lead was back up to nine.
That sequence of plays by Anthony salvaged another subpar performance turned in by the reigning regular season scoring champion, who went 7-for-23 from the field.
The Knicks’ performance did little to reassure fans about their team’s health as it advances toward the second round, winning its first playoff series in 13 years.
For one, Anthony appears to be suffering from a shoulder injury he incurred during the Knicks game five loss against the Celtics. His shot was off and he had a difficult time finishing at the rim. One can only wondering how this injury will impact him going forward against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
Still, this win should come as a relief to the Knicks and Anthony, whose personal playoff record stands at 21-39. He had the shot that snapped the momentum, but Knicks guards Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert put the team in position to win.
The Knicks franchise finally pushed past a team that had tormented them for generations. The Celtics franchise, which holds an all-time record of 276-175 over the Knicks in the regular season, appeared to overtake New York’s collective psyche this series, engaging it in unnecessary altercations. Anthony lost his mid-range game and the Knicks let the Celtics back into the series, dropping two straight games.
While the Celtics were eliminated, they may have laid the blueprint for the Knicks’ second round opponent, to do the job they couldn’t do, despite one ferocious history-making effort.
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+