Knicks Move On After Another Scare

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BOSTON – The New York Knicks were the better team. And in the end, the better team won.

But, man, the Boston Celtics certainly made New York sweat, putting on one more display of Celtic pride before bowing out in Game 6 of their first round series, an 88-80 victory for the Knicks that puts them in a conference semifinals matchup with the Indiana Pacers starting Sunday.

It’s New York’s first playoff series victory in 13 years, a mixture of relief and exaltation for their long-suffering fans. It’s the first time Boston has lost in the first round since acquiring Kevin Garnett in 2007, and maybe the end of the KG era. The Knicks had already ended the Celtics’ streak of five straight division titles, but this was the official changing of the guard.

Both teams did their best to make it interesting in the fourth quarter though. The Knicks lost their way offensively after building a 26-point lead early in the period. They stubbornly stuck to isolation basketball that produced only tough shots and turnovers.

The Celtics finally found some offense by turning up the pressure defensively. Avery Bradley‘s ball hawking produced five New York miscues in a six-possession stretch in the middle of the 20-0 run. It was a furious push, but it eventually ran out of gas and the Celtics could never get to within less than four points.

The hole had been dug too deep. The Boston offense never looked more anemic than in did in the first half of Game 6, scoring a paltry 27 points on 43 possessions. Their spacing was terrible, they couldn’t hold onto the ball, and they couldn’t make a shot. In fact, they had more turnovers than made field goals until the 7:45 mark of the fourth.

“They wanted to play well, and they didn’t,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of his team. “They know they’re better than what they played.”

Ultimately, as resilient as they proved to be, the Celtics were a team without a point guard or much of a shot against an opponent with much more firepower. But hey, they saved face after losing the first three games, avoiding the sweep on Sunday, making the Knicks look silly for wearing all black to Game 5 on Wednesday, and giving their fans one final thrill with the 20-0 run on Friday.

Now, they face what may be a difficult summer. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett looked older than ever in this series, and the best move for the franchise may be to part ways with their two prideful stars.

“We need more,” Rivers said “But the key is, for us, do you want to take away to get more? And that will be a decision that will be made later.”

“All three of us agreed to speak later,” Garnett added. “It’s a different day for that conversation.”

Rivers himself said he’s leaning toward coming back to coach at least one more year, but will take some time to make a decision.

The Knicks won’t have much time to prepare for the Pacers, an even tougher defensive team than the Celtics. And it doesn’t bode well that the Knicks scored less than a point per possession in this series and that Carmelo Anthony shot just 38 percent, at one point missing 19 straight 3-pointers.

“It’s not something I’m too concerned about,” Anthony said. “I’ll take those shots any day. I won’t stop shooting. My teammates need me to shoot.”

The good news is that New York may be playing its best defense of the season, having held the Celtics under a point per possession in five of the six games. It’s been three years since Boston was a good offensive team, but the Knicks’ defense was, at times, very responsible for how bad their opponent looked.

The Knicks ranked 16th defensively in the regular season and weren’t necessarily playing very well on that end when they won 13 straight games in March and early April. But they’ve seemingly flipped the switch.

“We have incredible athletes,” Tyson Chandler said. “That combined with focus is dangerous. I’ve been saying that the whole time I’ve been here and we’re starting to show it now.”

Chandler added that he feels 100 percent recovered from the bulging disc in his neck that he was dealing with late in the season, which may be the most important thing for the Knicks as they get set to face Indiana’s frontline of David West and Roy Hibbert. And that Iman Shumpert played one his best games of the season – 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting, six rebounds and a critical steal down the stretch – on Friday is also encouraging.

And hey, though the Knicks almost fumbled away that 3-0 lead they had, it takes a certain amount of resilience to finish off a series when your battle-tested opponent just doesn’t want to go down.

“It was an ugly series,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, “because neither team could really score or break loose. We did what we had to do to get out of this round.”

***

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

44 Comments

  1. Boogie Bomb says:

    Pacers will take it

  2. Pacers vs knicks-Pacers in 5 or 6! :)

  3. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    I want to believe the Knicks can win in 7, but the pacers will most likely win in 6. the Knicks are a good team, but they are NOT READY yet… just like the clippers … If they somehow manage to get by the pacers then MIAMI will give the Knicks a sweeping they will never forget.

  4. Jonesy37 says:

    Call me a pessimist, but just in case – thank you KG and Paul. It’s been a great ride.

  5. Thanks for a great season Celtics, well done considering the ups & downs-i never lost faith. I say they def could’ve went deeper in playoffs-none the less, great season anyways. Also i say keep Pierce & KG.
    CELTICS-HORAAH-UBUNTU!!!

  6. Gillsy says:

    The Knicks are a interesting team. They have Anthony a potent scorer, JR the sixth man of the year, Chandler past defensive player of the year, and lots of role players. They have had a lot of injuries but played well my x factor is Martin, tough as nails and a clever player inside.

  7. robert mcc says:

    Why Anthony gotto bring ball up during crunch time…… Also ballmoving then JR has to stop the flow

    Does he have to go behind his back on every move…… He’s gonna cost us bigtime.

    Mike Woods WILL be out coach at some point., this post season

    Miami Heat is no given

    If the Knocks had lost last night, they don’t deserve the Series.

  8. Yup says:

    With all due respect to the Knicks and their fans, the Knicks team are going to need to drop their arrogant and immature attitudes to have even a shot at winning the NBA Finals this year. Their aren’t many teams more talented than the Knicks this year, but their are certainly more teams with better attitudes and more poise.

    That being said, I feel the Knicks will beat the Pacers in game 7 but their playoff run will end in the ECF to a team that had the same issues with their attitude but fixed it last year and won the championship, the Miami Heat.

  9. Hugo says:

    Greetings folks,

    I am a native new yorker and an unconditional supporter of the Knicks since i was a kid in the early 80’s. I am elated that we got through, but there are some basic issues that really worry me. We are seeing heroic one on one, school yard style basketball, game after game. Rarely a give and go, rarely an easy lay up. We move the ball when Carmelo has already posted up for 15-18 seconds and couldnt get a shot off. JR also drains the clock with his offense. I love our team. Love these players. But why cant we ever post up Tyson down low every once and a while when Carmelo isnt hitting his shot, or JR is going through a cold spell? I see many miss matches down low and Tyson can put up some points now and again. If it aint there for him, draw the defense, and then kick out to an open shooter.

    Melo and JR are our go to guys. No doubt. But team play is crucial. Trusting your team mates is key. Just ask all the great championship teams. Of course we want Melo scoring his 30 points. Of course we want JR scoring 20plus points. But we need a team effort. I dont fault the players, I fault Mr.Woodson with all due respect. I hope we can play like a team. Indiana is going to be tough.

  10. KnicksFan says:

    Big Al, how can you say, kidd is far from being a kid, and then in the same paragraph, you say for the knicks to bring in Iverson? at least Kidd is game fit, and has at least 1 more year in him Iverson hasnt played in the NBA for a good few years, he was a good player in his hey day, but no way would he work in New York

  11. knicks in 4 says:

    Knicks hits ! Knickstape!
    Is time Melo, J R & going to trip!
    NYK 13 CHAMPION

  12. ez does it says:

    the knicks can beat the pacers but the pacers may push them to 7…yes we seen the team and melo struggle without JR BUT they could have one that game..if shumpert plays like he played the last 2 games with that type of intense defense they can win this series AND challenge miami…lets not forget what happens when lebron and melo square up with each other..miaimi and new york in the east !

  13. Big Al says:

    The Knicks can be beaten by the Pacers in this round, or be badly swept by the Heat if they advance. Only Melo and JR are truly useful in the offense, with Tyson on the defense. Felton is inconsistent, Kidd far from being a kid and the rest practically useless. Take in Iverson next season and hopefully, Amar’e is back as well.

  14. Bird33 says:

    I hope The two criminals (J.R. Smith or K..k..k..Kenyon M..m..m..Martin) try their punk maneuvers on Big Roy or D West. I’d love to see Roy or David “take out the trash” lol

    Go Pacers!!!

  15. Koz says:

    Pacers in 7!!!

  16. Fred says:

    CELTICS NEVER SAY NEVER. We’ll be back next year healthy and reloaded.

  17. TT says:

    NA-NA-NA-NA
    NA-NA-NA-NA
    HEY HEY HEY
    GOODBYE

  18. David Roman says:

    The Pacers don’t have the same composure as guys like Pierce and Garnett. I can’t see them being as difficult to close out. Knicks in 5 I say.

  19. KNICKS says:

    CHANDLER AND MARTIN MONSTERS ! J R SWISH !
    CARMELO MVP ! SHUMPERT AND FELTON CRAZY
    THE NEW YORK KNICKS SHOW TIME !
    DREAM TIME

    • celtics forever says:

      Chandler and Martin?! they were both dominated by KG and i didn’t even felt kenyon’s presence in this series!

    • Yup says:

      ‘DREAM TIME’ indeed. Keep dreaming.

  20. Knicksfan says:

    BOS comeback? BOS needs to make sure PIERCE doesn’t come back. Build around RONDO and hope he comes back better than before.

  21. Inciner8tor says:

    I hate the Celtics and I’m glad that they lost.
    Have to give credit where credit is due. They fought hard, but the outcome was inevitable.

  22. kingk says:

    New York aren’t going to be able to compete for a championship letting teams come back in a series

  23. Gillsy says:

    I think this year the Celtics may have to shift focus away from PP. I understand KG is in a similar boat but he is a power forward centre where their mileage even at 20 minutes a game can be usefull. But how many times towards the end of the season the C’s leaned on Green to pull them out of the hole in close gmes or made a big difference in putting up points. Which to me was a big changing of the guard in Boston.

  24. bostonboy says:

    though boston lost this playoff series, you still can’t not deny that they are truly good team. KG and Pierce are getting old but they never let their opponents win easily. did anyone grab more rebounds in average in the series? no. and this proved that they still impact the game. rondo will come back eventually. this year is a year that young fellows in celtics prove their value. they will get faster and stronger next season.
    however, knicks could only win the game if melo and jr are hot. like game 4, they lost the game with their bad shooting percentage. if knicks can’t rally the game when they shoot bad, it is really hard to image they win the eastern finals.

  25. Melomania says:

    Go Knicks! Prove all haters wrong! We’ve already beaten the best team of a playoffs! Now is just the icing on the cake!

  26. BIG MEAN & GREEN!! says:

    CELTICS FOREVER!!! Man if only we had all our guys, this would have been road kill!! Anyway Im proud of em dudes in green,for he resilience, humbleness & heart!! We will be back to former glory soon enough with some new pieces

  27. lalalala says:

    as a celtic fan, i can say that i’m very proud of what they have accomplished this series. they were down 3-0, everybody counted them out but they clawed their way back to make it within 3-2. when they were down 26 early in the fourth everybody thought the series was over, but they made one hell of a run. i’m glad i hang on to finish the game because today’s game 6 is one of the most memorable comeback in the playoffs i’ve seen. as a fan, i’m very proud of what my team has done. and hey, how can a fan ask for more when they know and see that their team gave everything they have and so much more. i’m just glad the c’s taught the knicks their lesson. i hope the knicks learn their lesson and never do something stupid like what they did in game 5 ever again.

    the season may be over for the c’s but i bet this offseason will be the most interesting offseason of the celtics for a while now.

  28. celtics forever says:

    I was shocked with the 4th quarter rally of the Celtics. if only Avery Bradley played that aggressive since the start of the season….

    • Gustavo says:

      Knicks 4-0
      knicks miami 4-2
      knicks spurs 4-1
      KNICKS CHAMPS

      • Yeah sure says:

        Knicks-miami 4.2 ? Quit hard drugs, man. Even tough I think Knicks-Pacers will be for the Knicks I seriously doubt it will be 4-0. Rather 4-2 or 4-3.

  29. Per Ham says:

    Melo is and has always has been a great defender, this proves it.

  30. newyorksteelo says:

    I am beyond happy and exited for the Knicks. What a way to prove everyone who hated on Melo and the Knicks wrong. They said the Knicks do not play defense, they said Melo is a ball stopper, they said the Knicks could never get past a first round in the playoffs. Well, read em and weep haters. It’s about time for Melo and the Knicks to shine. Can’t wait for the next series when the Knicks face the Indiana Pacers and their pesky defense. I haven’t been this excited bout NBA playoffs since the Jordan Era. Go Knicks.