Knicks Turn Up The D To Win Game 1


The New York Knicks have dreams of winning a championship this season.

After the first half of Game 1 of their first round series against the Boston Celtics – in which the Knicks allowed a bad offensive team to score 51 points on 47 possessions – those dreams looked like a joke.

In the past 11 years, only one team – the 2005-06 Dallas Mavericks – has ranked outside the top 10 in defensive efficiency and made The Finals. The Knicks ranked 17th defensively this season. So while they’re a 2 seed that went 3-1 against the Miami Heat, they still have a lot to prove.

And they weren’t proving anything in the first 24 minutes on Saturday, allowing the Celtics to get the mismatches they wanted and failing to rotate fast enough when the ball moved to the weak side. To make matters worse, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was not himself. Trying to play after missing 16 of the final 20 games of the regular season, Tyson Chandler clearly still felt the effects of a bulging disc in his neck.

But even without their defensive anchor, the Knicks managed to buckle down in the second half, holding the Celtics to an anemic 25 points on 42 possessions to pull out an 85-78 victory. It’s the first time the Knicks have held a playoff series lead since May 2, 2001.

The Knicks’ offense had been rolling at the end of the regular season, but the playoffs are a whole new ball game, and the Celtics are a terrific defensive team. Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points in Game 1, but needed 29 shots to do it. The Knicks got a total of three points out of three of their other four starters and the fourth, Raymond Felton, shot 5-for-13. The Celtics took away the Knicks’ pick-and-roll game most of the afternoon, forcing New York – who totaled just 13 assists – into a lot of iso-ball and late-in-the-clock pull-up jumpers.

For both teams, the best offense came from their defense. The Celtics one good stretch in the second half – 13 points on eight possessions late in the third quarter – came when they got some stops and got out in transition. The Knicks scored 20 points off those 21 Boston turnovers. Neither team was very successful in their half-court sets.

Boston was especially dreadful in the second half. They still got the switches, mismatches and double-teams they wanted, but the Knicks just had more energy and activity defensively. It helped that neither Kevin Garnett (4-for-12) nor Jason Terry (0-for-5) could buy a bucket, but Boston got just seven shots in the paint in the second half after getting 19 in the first half.

A final score of 85-78 is Eastern Conference playoff basketball at its best. And ultimately, the Knicks proved they can win ugly. They were held under a point per possession offensively and still managed to win by seven. It was the first time they’ve won all season when scoring less than 87 points (they were 0-6 in the regular season).

The Celtics believe this was more about their offense than the Knicks’ defense. They looked disjointed most of the afternoon and committed 21 turnovers, nine of them in the fourth quarter when the game was in the balance and the Knicks were leaving the door open for them to steal home-court advantage.

“I thought our spacing was horrendous in the second half,” Doc Rivers said. “I thought each guy held the ball and tried to make their own play, and I talked about that before the game. That’s not who we are. We can’t be that way, and we tried to play that way in the second half.”

While the Knicks deserve credit for forcing a lot of those turnovers – Jason Kidd still may have the best defensive hands and instincts in the league – Boston was careless with the ball. So they believe they can get Game 2 (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, TNT) by just executing better.

“We stopped playing the right way. I thought each guy was trying to win,” Rivers said. “I don’t think that’s hard to fix. I really don’t.”

Game 2 is both an opportunity for the Celtics to fix the turnovers and another opportunity for the Knicks to prove that their championship dreams are legit.


  1. Listen up chainedlyric-that’s a lowlife move to use our travesty to make it sound worse!

  2. Duran says:

    Go knicks!!!

  3. Sam Fisher says:

    Lets Go Knicks

  4. chainedlyric says:

    Knicks had a terrible shooting night and still beat the Celts. The Celtics couldn’t of been more motivated after the terror attacks and again they still lost. This series will be over fast. Knicks in 5.

  5. Kamote says:

    Its game 1, at NYK… still a long series

  6. Steve Kronengold says:

    The Knicks were not on top of their offensive game, were for the most part missing their defensive anchor, and were still able to put the game away. Celtics have a formidable threesome in Pierce, Garnett and Green. Knicks in 6.

  7. 1 game down & done my Celts, Awite-NOW PICK UP THE PIECES & DRIVE ON! Don’t forget Ubuntu!

  8. Karlo Garcia says:

    I feel this NYK V BOS series goin 2 b a long one.

  9. Snitch says:


  10. Flavio D' ULISSE says:


  11. Flavio D' ULISSE says:

    Who wins this series? If the Celtics win game 2 they’ re going to be an important factor, the fans the fill the TD Garden

  12. mister says:


  13. uoykcuf says:

    I think key player on game 1 was Kmart. He got some offense rebound(although Knicks still missed on those second chance points) and his energy was amazing. Knicks didn`t have a “good“ shooting night and still win cause they turn the D up. In the long run I think Kmart`s presence will be essential for their title run.

  14. Jerry says:

    this is how the Knicks are going to beat the heat…by putting 85 on the board…oh they got another thing comming…Boston will bounce. Th

  15. Rondofan says:

    Oh, and I know it may be late, but prayers go out to the city of Boston for the terrible tragedy.

  16. Rondofan says:

    It’s all good Celts, keep your heads up for the next game. Go Celtics!!!

  17. newyorksteelo says:

    If the Knicks plan to get to the finals, they must play defense like they did on the second half of this game, only throughout the entire 4 quarters of all games to come. Boston Scored too many points in the first half. Come on NY. You can do it!

    • playoff observer says:

      doc was right. it was the celtics offense in the second half that did them in than the knicks defense.

  18. mee(a)t says:

    What was Kevin Garnett doing out there?

  19. Oakley34BLAM says:

    Ugly win…just like my knicks of old. JR Starks was also doin some vintage knickerbockin. All thats left is for all of them (except melo) to shave their heads.