PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Jermaine O'Neal
Key Reserves: F Jeff Green, G Delonte West, F Glen Davis, C Nenad Krstic
Key Injuries: Shaquille O'Neal
Knicks Projected Starting Line-up:
PG: Toney Douglas
SG: Landry Fields
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire
C: Ronny Turiaf
Key Reserves: F Bill Walker, C Jared Jeffries, G Anthony Carter
Key Injuries: G Chauncey Billups
After seven dreadful seasons, the New York Knicks will host a playoff game at the world-renowned Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have been absent from the post-season for nearly a decade, and fans have not seen their team play at the Garden in mid-April for a long time. However, with the additions of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, the "Playoffs" logo is finally back on the MSG floor.
The Knicks are currently playing the Boston Celtics in their first round match-up, a divisional rival they have faced many times before. The first two games of the series were held in the TD Garden in Boston, and the Knicks lost both games by a total of five points. Games 1 and 2 were decided in the final seconds, and the Knicks failed to put away the Celtics despite holding leads in the waning seconds.
The Knicks fell the Celtics in Game 1 after a desperation three-point attempt by Carmelo Anthony, and in Game 2 they lost after Jared Jeffries fumbled the ball to Kevin Garnett. The Knicks could have had a 2-0 series lead if they closed out the games in Boston, but instead they are looking at a 0-2 hole. To create more despondency, the Boston Celtics are 33-0 when leading a best-of-seven playoff series 2-0.
However, the Celtics have often times lost their energy during stretches of the season and their fairly old roster may not be able to run with the Knicks for two more games. The Knicks have a clear advantage when it comes speed and youth, and they must exploit that advantage for the two games in Manhattan. Although New York fell short in both games in Boston, they battled strong with the defended Eastern Conference champions. The Knicks can put themselves in the best position to win by playing a full 48 minutes of committed basketball, and by matching the Celtics' energy. The Celtics will try to win the pivotal Game 3, but the Knicks must counter Boston's focus. More importantly, the Knicks must find a way to execute down the stretch of games.
The Madison Square Garden crowd will be ready to cheer for their beloved team, and the Knicks' players must feed off the energy in the arena. The Garden has been host to some of the most memorable playoff games in NBA history, and if the past has any indication, the crowd will be loud and hostile tonight. The Knicks will have the upper-hand if Game 3 hangs in the balance, and the crowd will provide the team with an extra boost during crunch time. Although the Celtics have performed well during road playoff games, they cannot prepare themselves for the atmosphere that will be present tonight. In order to walk away victorious, the Knicks will need a stellar performance from themselves and their faithful fans.
Three Keys to a Knicks Game 3 Victory:
1. Feed off the Garden's energy
2. Execute down the stretch
3. Other players must step up