City Sports Report

It’s the Same Old Song, But with a Different Meaning… by Marc “Razz” Rasbury

I know that all of you New York Knicks fans out there are frustrated as all hell that New York blew two golden opportunities to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.  We should be use to it by now.  The last four games against the Celtics have come down to close contests in the final minutes, with Boston snatching victory from jaws of defeat all four times.  Experience wins out here but take heed Knicks fans. These heart breaks will serve as a catalyst of better days ahead.  
UCONN’s head coach Jim Calhoun stated the reason why his Huskies won the National Championship is that he had Kemba Walker and the other teams did not.  The reason why the Celtics keep on beating the Knicks this year is that they execute in the final minutes of their games and Knicks do not.  It is as simple as that. Both games of their first round playoff series demonstrated that.
In game one, the Knicks failed to get Amar’e Stoudemire the ball in the final moments after he was killing Kevin Garnett and Boston for most of the fourth quarter.  In game two,  Carmelo Anthony passed up the opportunity to score the go-ahead basket and deferred to Jarred Jefferies of all people to win the game.  In Melo’s case, he made the right decision.  Garnett made a hell of a defensive stop against a player in Jefferies who is not comfortable finishing plays.  Folks killed Anthony for forcing the shot in the closing seconds of game one and criticized him for passing with the chance to take the lead in game two. 
In both cases the Knicks just did not execute down the stretch. This team will learn to finish out games. It might be next year but at least they are making progress.
I would like to see the Knicks take out the Celts, but until they learn to close out these games it aint going to happen.  Just compare how Boston executed down the stretch in Tuesday’s game.  First KG scores a pivotal basket over Jefferies to give the Celtics the lead and then steals the ball from Jefferies on the next possession to secure the game.
The future Hall of Famer did it on both ends of the court. That is the difference between being up 2-0 and being tied or down 0-2.  The main reasons why the Celtics are masters of pulling games out in the final moments are that they have been together for four years and they have three future Hall of Famers who are committed to playing on both ends of the court.
But as I look at the way the Knicks played in both of their defeats at the hand of the Celtics, I come away encouraged.  I can’t believe that they are actually playing defense.  Except for a few plays where Rajon Rondo went through the Knicks’ D as if it was the Path of Least Resistance, the Knicks contested most jump shots, dived on the floor for loose balls and played great help-side defense. In game two they outrebounded the Celts 53-37, snatching 20 on the offensive end alone, and that was without an injured Stoudemire.
And, the younger role players are getting a boatload of experience in this series.  Toney Douglas, Shawne Williams and Landry Fields are learning on the fly what playoff basketball is all about.  That is going to help them next year in the regular and post seasons.
Obviously the more Amar’e and Melo play together, they will learn how to play better together. Both can score but they are good passers as well.  Just like the Celts got KG the ball where he wanted it, the Knicks will learn how to get their teammates the ball where they can be most effective. Melo had a monster game in game two, scoring 42 points and pulling down 17 rebounds.  He reminded me of his childhood hero Bernard King in doing so. Amar’e did his thing in game one.  Therefore, when they get it together, the Knicks will be among the East’s elite.  I just hope Amar’e and Chauncey Billups can return for game three.
I love to see the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals but I am content with their progress. Just remember what this team was like this time last year. Let me remind you, they were a mess, and their season was over. A year later, they are exciting and are giving us hope. This is the first time in almost a decade that they have played beyond the April 15th tax deadline.  They have taken more than baby steps and they are going in the right direction.


  1. MJM

    April 21, 2011 at 6:58 pm


    You are so right about the Knicks and their failures at the finish line, but I still want to “keep hope alive” as I am sure you do too. mjm

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