Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 4/21/13
Down by four at halftime of game one of their playoff series against the Celtics, the Knicks clearly needed to come out in the second half with a little more pep in their step.Alas, surprising to some was the fact that it was not New York's defense that needed an injection of life, but their offense instead. Mike Woodson seemed to understand that, and had a plan for the rest of the game.During the first half, he Knicks not only kept the pace with the Celtics, but actually managed to pull away with a small lead to start the contest. Carmelo Anthony was hot early on, and Raymond Felton was calmly running the floor and keeping the offense organized. The forward looked like a star early on, and Felton's demeanor was as steady as any point guard around.But the rest of the Knicks fell flat, and eventually, the drop in intensity started to affect Anthony and Felton as well. Chris Copeland was quiet and ineffective in his first playoff start, Iman Shumpert wasn't utilized offensively, and Tyson Chandler was nowhere to be found.It's anyone's guess as to how the Knicks managed to keep the pace with Boston and keep them contained defensively without Chandler making a worthwhile contribution. Boston guarded the pick and roll extremely well throughout the contest, making it impossible for Chandler to get going offensively. He also lacked aggression defensively and on the boards as well.But as mentioned, Coach Woodson seemed to understand what had been the Knicks' difficulties come halftime. Having assessed the situation, the coach was ready to make necessary changes.At the beginning of the season, the Knicks stressed it would be their newfound wealth of veteran experience that would ultimately lead them to the promise land. Such a prophecy has been a difficult one to believe in, as many of these very veterans have gotten exhausted down the stretch, falling victim to an accumulation of various bumps and bruises, that arguably, wouldn't affect a much younger and fresher player quite as much.But as the Knicks have maintained all season long, things would all come together and make sense come playoff time. Down the stretch against the Celtics, they certainly seemed to.Having outscored the Celtics in the third quarter, New York was looking to make one final run in the fourth to take control and put their opponent away. After watching other contributors silenced in the previous three quarters, however, who would the Knicks be turning to?The answer to that question was Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin.After attempting to preserve Kidd and his minutes all season long, this is finally the time to unleash him. The point guard undoubtedly rewarded the team for their patience, letting his stellar defense propel the Knicks' offense down the stretch. Finishing with a quiet stat-sheet stuffer with 8 points, 3 steals, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, the experienced floor general clearly a set a tone for New York.That tone was certainly infectious for a number of his teammates. Anthony came alive again, knocking down buckets and making that extra hockey assist here or there in the game's final minutes. He finished with 36 points.But in addition to Kidd, it was Martin who injected the Knicks with that added aggression that wasn't provided by Chandler early on. The forward roared and soared, attacking the boards and finishing at the basket powerfully as he helped ultimately deflate Boston with the game on the line. The big man added 10 points and 9 rebounds.Though they came away with an 85-78 victory, there was a lot for the Knicks to learn from in game one. The Celtics clearly have a decent enough game plan and strategy, so it's up to Woodson and his team to counter it sufficiently. Who Woodson opts to ride with down the stretch (hopefully his group of more steady veterans) will likely dictate the Knicks' fate to keep the pace in this series.
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