When a 3 appears next to one team in a seven game series, a sense of desperation is evident from both squads.
The Knicks snatched a monumental Game 3 in Boston on Friday night and now they are in a position to sweep their rival in a Sunday Game 4 matinee. New York was downright surgical in its 90-76 win by defusing one of the most intense crowds in the NBA with a terrific start that featured a 16-point halftime lead.
From a Knicks perspective, the game plan remains the same as they want to slam on the gas pedal from the opening tip. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs. There are obvious benefits to a sweep – rest, confidence, and a significant amount of time to prepare for the second round opponent.
Carmelo Anthony vocalized the need for a Game 4 win in Boston, "Guys are hungry." He later added, “We really want this, we feel like it's right there in the palm of our hands."
Only three teams have forced a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in a best of seven series. The 1951 Knickerbockers, the 1994 Denver Nuggets, and the 2003 Portland Trailblazers all reached a Game 7 but failed to accomplish the feat. This is a great opportunity for New York to earn its first sweep since the 1999 season.
Anthony reiterated the importance of a sweep, "To accomplish that, would be spectacular, it would be a dream come true. I've never swept anybody."
Shifting focus to the other side, it was startling to hear the postgame comments from the Celtics camp. Paul Pierce used the word “surprising” to summarize his team’s 0-3 hole. Kevin Garnett praised the Knicks for their effort and head coach Doc Rivers seemed out of answers after starting Jason Terry on Friday night.
With that said, Boston is a proud organization and will attempt to send the series back to Manhattan for a Game 5. The last time the Celtics were swept was in 2004, several years before the “Big 3” was formed. Boston will have to overcome an inept offense, issues at the point guard spot, and a lack of firepower from the bench. Not to mention, the Knicks are fresh off their best offensive performance of the series.
Both teams will play with a sense of desperation from a different perspective but the crew that seizes the momentum early will most likely prevail in a Game 4 elimination game.