The New York Knicks squandered their opportunity to advance to the second round of the playoffs and sweep the Boston Celtics. Down 3-0 to the Knicks, the Celtics gave the Knicks their toughest battle of the series yet. Early on Boston found a rhythm in their offense and stitched up the
Knicks’ offense to open up a double-digit lead, and push it to 20 early in the third quarter. However, the Knicks battled back, led by a rejuvenated offense suddenly able to find holes in Boston’s defense. It wasn’t a roaring comeback; instead, it took the Knicks almost the entire second half until they finally took a two-point lead in the final two minutes. However, Kevin Garnett hit a clutch jumper to tie it, the Knicks missed their opportunities to go back ahead, and Paul Pierce missed a jumper in the final seconds to win it. In overtime, Jason Terry came up big for the Celtics, sinking back-to-back shots to put Boston up five, and the Knicks missed several attempts to come back into the game. The two teams had back to New York for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Here are player report cards for the game:
Carmelo Anthony – 45 minutes, 36 points, 10-35 FG, 0-7 3FG, 16-20 FT, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 7 TOs, -10
Carmelo Anthony reverted back to old bad habits for a good part of the game, often times hurting the Knicks’ offense. His hands grew far too sticky on numerous occasions, and for the better part of the game, settled for jumpers he wasn’t canning. Obviously missing all seven of his three-pointers hurt the Knicks offense, but he missed some vital free throws in the fourth quarter as well. Interspersed in this general deficiency, however, were some shining moments, such as getting to the foul line 20 times, attacking the basket for easier shots and to draw fouls, and some solid one-on-one defense. Down the stretch, though, when the Knicks needed ‘Melo at his best, he was close to his worst.
Final Grade: C-
Raymond Felton – 48 minutes, 27 points, 10-21 FG, 4-9 3FG, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 TOs, -4
Felton, on the other hand, just added on to an already great series. For much of the game, Felton was the Knicks’ most efficient player on offense, shooting the ball very well, and eventually playing a hand in the probing of the Celtics’ defense that helped the Knicks start scoring to get back into the game. Much of the Knicks’ comeback could be attributed to Felton, especially his 16-point third quarter outburst, punctuated by a 30-foot bomb to end the quarter. His man defense was on-point, coming up with some timely steals and pressuring the Celtics’ ball-handlers for a good portion of the game. It’s a shame that one of Felton’s best individual performances of the season came in a loss.
Final Grade: A
Iman Shumpert – 44 minutes, 12 points, 5-13 FG, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, +5
Mike Woodson’s utilization of Shumpert has always been a little short-leashed considering what Shump can bring to the floor. But Game 4 saw Woodson let Shumpert prove himself on the floor in critical moments, and Shump mostly delivered. Though he bricked some open looks early in the game, he found his stroke – including a couple of late-game threes – was active on the boards, and played rookie-season-style, aggressive defense. In general, Shumpert’s game is almost always dictated by his own aggressiveness, and if he continues attacking on both ends, he’ll warrant more big minute games.
Final Grade: B
Tyson Chandler- 31 minutes, 5 points, 2-3 FG, 11 rebounds, 1 blocks, -6
Thus far, Game 4 was the most normal looking Tyson Chandler we’ve seen in the series. His patented Tyson tap-backs were in full bloom, giving the Knicks very critical extra possessions, he defended the rim and most pick-and-rolls actively, and even threw down a beautiful alley-oopfrom Felton. One small complaint: roll to the basket harder to suck in Boston’s defense or open up his own looks in the pick-and-roll.
Final Grade: B+
Kenyon Martin – 22 minutes, 4 points, 2-4 FG, 6 rebounds, -1
Martin wasn’t able to rekindle his early series effectiveness. Though he was competent on offense in this one, the Celtics seemed more intent on attacking the rim when Martin was in, and despite his violent swat attempts, he actually doesn’t do that much for New York’s defense. Sometimes a little dose of K-Mart is exactly what the game calls for, but other times, he just doesn’t bring that much. Thankfully in those times, the Knicks now have a healthy Chandler.
Final Grade: C
Pablo Prigioni – 28 minutes, 3 points, 1-6 FG, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 1 TO, +1
Prigioni’s gnat-like qualities were on full display in this one. Prigioni pestered ball-handlers and inbound passers with his quick hands and clever tactics, earning him a few minutes of air-time discussion about what type of bug he really is. Though he missed mostly good looks, his presence of the floor seemed to help the Knicks on both ends, and he arguably deserved to be playing at the end of the game instead of Kidd.
Steve Novak – 7 minutes, 3 points, 1-3 FG, 1 rebounds, -9
Novak’s contributions were pretty limited, but he was a part of a pretty futile group that flat-lined to begin the miserable second quarter. The Celtics are simply too disciplined to leave Novak unguarded, and his impact elsewhere isn’t felt.
Final Grade: D+
Jason Kidd – 37 minutes, 0 points, 0-3 FG, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 TOs, -5
Kidd’s three-pointer has disappeared at a bad time, but his presence on the boards, ability to cover multiple positions on defense, and do things like telling Felton to stop complaining to officials are all pretty great. He was effective in this one, though his minutes were definitely boosted by J.R. Smith’s absence, and it still seems like Prigioni could’ve brought more on offense.
Final Grade: B-
Quentin Richardson – 3 minutes, 0 points, 0-2 FG
Richardson’s impact on Game 4 of this series will, for me, forever be represented by his smacking the ball off the bottom of the rim on a reverse layup attempt. That, and seemingly trash talking Paul Pierce from the Knicks bench late in the game.