The New York Knicks have a (3-1) series lead over the Boston Celtics going into tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden, and so far they have done everything right. The Knicks held home court, sweeping the Celtics in the previous two games at MSG, then went up to Boston and stole one game, which is what good teams are supposed to do. For the New York Knicks, the time to finish the Boston Celtics is now, because the last thing they want to do is give the veteran Celtics hope and travel back to Boston for a game six.
The New York Knicks have only lost two games since the All-Star Break, one to the Miami Heat and one to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the two teams with the best records in the NBA this past season. The Knicks have a 12 game home winning streak and have not lost in The Garden since March 7th. A win tonight would keep both of those streaks alive headed into the second round of the playoffs, it would put pressure on opponents to be sure that they win at home, because they will know they are not winning at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks did almost sweep the Celtics, it took the Celtics overtime to beat the Knicks in game four, despite a poor shooting night from superstar Carmelo Anthony (10-35) and their second-best offensive player J.R. Smith being suspended for the contest. I am a firm believer that, even if bad and erratic J.R. Smith was playing in game four, the Knicks win that game.
There are other reasons that winning tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden is huge for the Knicks. Center Tyson Chandler is clearly playing through pain, and I have a feeling that we will learn in the future how hurt he actually was for this series, the Olympian has been sitting on the bench during the fourth quarter in favor of the recently signed Kenyon Martin (who is playing very well I have to add). Also, the Knicks have the oldest roster in the NBA, so any extra rest is good for this team. The winner of the Knicks vs. Celtics series takes on the winner of the Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks series, which is knotted up at (2-2) and seems to be headed for seven games. A win tonight gives Tyson Chandler and the Knicks older players a lot of rest, time to rehab injuries, and study the possible opponents.
The Knicks do not want to fly back to Boston for a game six with a veteran Celtics club. If they lose game five tonight, the next thing they know, they could find themselves back in the Garden for game seven, when anything could happen. Future Hall-Of-Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may be in the twilight of their careers, but they can still get it going for big games, and I expect them to leave everything on the court at The Garden tonight. If they can somehow get momentum and confidence, which they would get by forcing this series back to Beantown, the Knicks could be in trouble. New York cannot let that happen. For the sake of the players and the fans the Knicks need to finish the Celtics off tonight, and get themselves rested and ready for their next opponent. Get it done Knicks.