The New York Knicks came into Game 4 looking to avoid a second consecutive playoff series sweep. The Knicks were knocked out of the playoffs in 2004 by the Nets, and they were hoping to avoid embarrassment today versus the Boston Celtics.
Unlike Game 3 at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks were able to hit their shots early and they were dictating the pace of the game. Carmelo Anthony got off to a hot start making his first two shots, and his defense on Paul Pierce was impeccable. At the 8:00 mark of the first quarter, the Knicks held an early 10-8 lead.
The Knicks were matching the Celtics' energy, and their collective team effort was far better than Game 3. New York’s front-court got a break when Kevin Garnett was taken out of the game with his second personal foul, and this opened the lane for penetrators and eliminated a defensive presence of the Celtics.
Amar’e Stoudemire’s back pains did not seem to affect his game in the first quarter, and he was playing with much more aggression than in previous games. Stoudemire’s front-court partner, Ronny Turiaf, provided the team with a boost of energy and his tenacity on the boards allowed the guards to attack in transition.
When the Knicks’ bench players were inserted into the game in the latter half of the quarter, they maintained the effort set forth by the starters and they continued to play in an up-tempo style. However, with the reserves on the floor, the Knicks lost their defensive intensity and the Celtics extended their lead before the conclusion of the period.
In the first quarter of Game 3, the Knicks were facing a double-digit lead and the Celtics had taken full control of momentum. However, in Game 4 the Knicks faced only a 29-23 deficit and were playing well against the veteran Celtics team. Carmelo Anthony led the team with 15 points, while the rest of the team had only eight points.
The Knicks were not able to hit their shots to begin the second quarter, and the team was playing mediocre defense. The Celtics bench was having a far more productive period than the Knicks’ reserves, and most of their points came inside the paint. Stoudemire began the game missing his first nine shots, and his lack of productivity hurt the Knicks' chances of reclaiming the lead. At the 7:41 mark of the second quarter, the Knicks found themselves trailing by ten points, 37-27.
The game became physical and the players broke into a diminutive altercation after Delonte West shoved Landry Fields to the ground. In retaliation, Stoudemire pushed West and the referees had to control the situation before an major fight broke out. After the scene was reviewed, both West and Stoudemire received technical fouls and the game resumed on.
The altercation seemed to fuel the Celtics players, especially guard Delonte West. After the incident, West scored on consecutive baskets and he helped the Celtics expand their lead to double digits, 42-28. The Celtics amped up their defensive intensity, and this resulted in tough, contested shot attempts by the Knicks. New York could not find any offensive success, and no player was able to beat a defender and attack the rim.
The Celtics took complete control of the tempo, and the Garden crowd was dead silent. The spectators were no longer into the game, and the Knicks’ effort in the second quarter did not give the fans a reason to cheer.
The Knicks went into the locker-room trailing by 17 points, 55-38. The Celtics once again out-played the Knicks and they dominated New York on both ends of the court.
Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points in the first quarter, but he ended the half with only 19 points. Amar’e Stoudemire shot 1-10 from the field, and his mere six points fell in comparison to Glen Davis’ 12. As a team, the Knicks shot a horrible 23% from the field, while the Celtics shot 47% and committed only six turnovers.
The Knicks played with more energy in the opening stages of the third quarter, but they dug themselves too big of a hole and could not cut the deficit to single-digits. Shawne Williams provided the team with valuable three-point shooting, but even his offensive prowess could not bring the Knicks back into the game. The Knicks tried to put together run, but Boston responded each time New York scored. The Celtics began the quarter making their first eight shots, and they opened a 74-54 advantage at the 5:37 mark of the third.
However, in the late stages of the third quarter, the Knicks amped up their defense intensity and the eventually cut the lead down to ten, 77-67. The Knicks’ run in the third began after two break-away dunks, and bench players Anthony Carter and Roger Mason Jr. gave the team much needed out-side shooting.
The Knicks were having difficulties choosing a point guard to run the offense, but Carter’s performance in the third turned out to be a boon for the team. Carter forced the team to play in a more up-tempo style, and he had the ability to drive into the lane and find open teammates on the perimeter.
The Knicks closed out the third quarter on a high note, and they headed to the bench down 82-72.
The Knicks began the fourth quarter with the same lineup that cut into the Celtics’ deficit, and the five players continued their stellar play. The Knicks began to play with more fire and energy, and the Garden crowd started to become a factor in the game. Carter pressured the Celtics’ players and he forced them to commit turnovers on consecutive plays. At the 10:23 mark of the fourth quarter, the Knicks found themselves trailing by six points, 82-76.
The Celtics were missing their shots, and the Knicks were capitalizing on misfires by either attacking in the fast-break or on the perimeter. The Knicks weren’t able to find any success on offensive in the previous quarters, but they finally connected on their shots in the fourth.
The Knicks battled strong in the second half, and it seemed as though they would extend the season. However, the Knicks could not get over the hump to reclaim the lead, the Celtics’ experienced brought them to victory, 101-89.
The Celtics closed out the game and swept the Knicks after a hard-fought Game 4. The Knicks’ fans at the Garden were clearly depressed after the elimination, but they were proud with their team’s effort.
The Knicks have a great nucleus in Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, and hopefully the front office will acquire better role player to work alongside the stars.