By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Celtics, Game 6 | TD Garden
When: Friday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
Knicksnow Live In-Game Chat
New York: After going up three games to none, the Knicks have stumbled in two attempts to close out the rival Celtics. What was an exceptional offense and a league-average defense during the regular season has flip-flopped, and the result has been more isolation than any team in the playoffs and a trip back to Boston for Game 6 tonight.
Carmelo Anthony continues to carry the scoring burden, but the Celtics have succeeded in making his looks difficult. Raymond Felton has provided a boost with his penetration, Iman Shumpert has been dynamic with his tenacious ball pressure and Tyson Chandler has regained his All-Star form on the glass. The Knicks will need all this, as well as improvement from J.R. Smith (3-for-14 shooting in Game 5) to finish off Boston. As Coach Mike Woodson said, "Now it's a series," but the Knicks stil control their own destiny.
Boston: The Celtics' offense has come alive in the past two games, relatively speaking. After scoring 78 points or fewer in the first three games (all losses), they've found a way to manufacture quality looks and converted them to the tune of 97 and 92 points to bring the series to 3-2. Kevin Garnett has been a man possessed, pulling down 52 rebounds in the last three games and making the right play when his team needs it.
The Numbers Game
After winning the NBA scoring title with 28.7 points per game, Carmelo Anthony has actually raised his average in the postseason to 30.7.
Matchup to Watch
Raymond Felton vs. Avery Bradley
Felton's play on both ends of the floor has been one of the most consistent aspects of the Knicks' success this series. In only his third career playoff series, he's averaging 18.4 points, 5 assists and 4.6 rebounds a game, in addition to gritty defense on Paul Pierce and other, often bigger, Celtics. Bradley has provided his usual suffocating defense, but Felton has continued to find room to breathe as he slices through the paint. With Chandler becoming more of a threat in the screen-and-roll game, Felton could be a huge factor in a Knicks clincher.
What to Look For
As mentioned in the link above, both teams have gone to smaller rotations as the series comes down to the wire. The Celtics are essentially going with six guys, give or take a few minutes from Terrence Williams. Mike Woodson noted that hed like to give more time to Pablo Prigioni, likely at the expense of Steve Novak...The Knicks are eager to close out the pesky Celtics, but they have found out that Boston won't just go away. They've begun to hit some of the open shots they couldn't earlier in the series, and so it will be up to the Knicks to apply consistent pressure and close out on shooters.