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The Knicks Must Learn to Close

345x200-top_knicks_melo  The take home from yesterday’s clash between two of the NBA’s “Original Eight” was that the Boston Celtics knew how to close the damn deal, while the New York Knicks appeared as if they were fumbling around for a pen to sign off on a victory that was basically sealed.  In the playoffs of any sport…you never want to lose, but defeats like last night are difficult to remove from the palette. The taste lingers on it like bad over –the- counter cold syrup, serving as a constant reminder of an opportunity blown.


When “Mr. Opportunity” knocks at the door, someone better be home to greet him. And after last night’s 87-85 Boston victory, I can’t help but feel that “Mr.Opportunity” may not return. The contest last night was without a doubt, brand “A” playoff basketball. It featured some steel cage defense, one dubious late offensive foul call—which in my book, you just can’t make as an official with less than a minute remaining, and a clutch shooting performance by Ray Allen. If he’s not on the floor, or playing like “Ms. Butterworth” instead of “Jesus He Got Game Shuttlesworth”, the Knicks win easily.

 What was most impressive was the Knicks overall defensive performance. Ronny Turiaf led the way for the Knicks. They finally looked like a cohesive defensive unit, which blocked nine FGA’s and forced the Celtics into the 16 turnovers.  They were so good; I’m considering reinstating the letter “D” in Coach Antoni’s name.  Yet, in spite of their sudden defensive prowess, the Knicks could not control the boards. The Celtics capitalized on 9 second chance opportunities that led to 18 points.  A great head coach with the first name of Pat once said “No rebounds no rings.”  If the Knicks want to move on to the next round it’s imperative that they limit the Celtics on the boards.


Amare Stoudemire and Ray Allen was clearly the two best players on the court last night. Not only did they score—they scored in the clutch. Paul Pierce had his moments as well, but Carmelo Anthony was painfully underwhelming. It seemed as if his two early fouls were fitted around his neck a like an Albatross, thus limiting his decision making and effectiveness throughout the game.  Furthermore, his fingerprints were lifted off every poor play made by the Knicks down the stretch. And although that referee’s decision to call an offensive foul on him was awful, it was not a good night for Melo.  I’m certain he knows it and I anticipate he’ll bring it even harder on Tuesday night.


If the Knicks want to make some noise, they need to counter the traps deployed on their perimeter ball handlers. The Knicks were held to 13 points in the 3rd Quarter, largely due to poor offensive decision making and lack of cohesiveness. Moreover, Landry Fieldsmust play with more confidence offensively. He’s very close to earning a trip to “Mamby Pamby Land.” He’s far too talented and too important not to contribute.


I strongly suspect the Knicks have gained the Celtics attention.  In game two the Knicks will need to withstand some “body blows” and a couple of “standing 8 counts” if they are to move forward to New York with the series tied.  But ultimately, they’ll need to play better in the final round, in order to close the damn deal.




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