There’s not too much to knock the Knicks on in this one as they went on to beat the Celtics 87-71 to take a 2-0 series lead. There were different parts of the game that saw a new Knick step up and leave their mark on the game, either on the offensive or defensive end.
In the first half, good ball movement wasn’t really there but some timely shots kept them in the game. This game could go down as one of the Knicks’ best all season when you take into consideration their third quarter dominance and overall second-half defense, allowing the Celtics to put up only 23 total points in the half.
Great games have become the norm for Carmelo lately. Another game grinded out with 30+ points. He’s scoring from anywhere right now including the free throw line and doesn’t seem to be slowing down as he shoulders the load night after night. His rebounds and assists aren’t really up to par, but there’s little care about that, as there should be, as he continues to take over games with his scoring.
Felton has really been coming on strong lately and he followed up his solid Game 1 effort with a very, very good Game 2 effort. Felton would probably be better off passing a little more (only two assists compared to his 15 shots), but it’s hard to take anything away from an 8-15 shooting night with 16 points and 7 rebounds, with no turnovers to boot.
It was a streaky game for the freshly announced Sixth Man of the Year, but he gave the Knicks a couple of boosts that were enough to change the complexion of the game and also finished a very respectable 7-15. After entering early on when Iman Shumpert picked up a couple of quick fouls, Smith quickly hit his first few shots and sealed the first quarter with a long buzzer-beater from downtown.
Tyson has fell off dramatically offensively, but the Knicks don’t really look for his scoring anyway. His defensive presence has to be taken into account much more than any of the counting stats he’s been putting up, which is not much as he only put in 3 points with 5 boards tonight, but did have a +21 +/- differential while keeping Jeff Green and Kevin Garnett in check. Chandler also seems to be limited, seeing only 22 minutes and not rebounding as much as he used to, but with the emergence of Kenyon Martin and his recent injury issues, limiting him isn’t a bad thing.
The intensity Martin has brought so far has been extremely valuable to the Knicks. They probably wouldn’t be the second seed without him and he is looking to be the aggressive body in the frontcourt that the Knicks desperately needed when Amar’e Stoudemire went down again. His 11 rebounds with four blocks tonight was his stamp on the game and it seemed like there was a stretch in the 4th quarter where he defensively single-handedly made it impossible for the Celtics to make up any kind of ground.
Kenyon Martin is technically included in the group of Knicks “role players” as well, but the same can be said for most of the team right now outside of the big couple of scorers. Pablo Prigioni (started), Iman Shumpert (started), and Jason Kidd all saw around 20 minutes, but none get enough run or time with the ball in their hands to do much as per usual. The plus side is that most don’t make mistakes and Kidd and Prigioni are smart, very good ball distributors that can be trusted.