Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/13/14
They are the team that does not fold. They stare halftime deficits in the face and laugh, knowing that they can more than make up the difference in the second half. They know they simply need to flip the switch, turn up their intensity and leave their opponent flustered, opening the way for another playoff victory. The Celtics brought that pedigree into their first-round playoff series, but after two games in New York it is the Knicks that have stormed back after clamping down defensively in ways that previous editions of that team never could. In a display of matinee mediocrity, the Celtics fell apart in Game 1, shooting 25 percent from the field in the second half and mustering a grand total of eight points in the fourth quarter. Everyone said they could not possibly be worse than that in Game 2. They tried. With Jordan Crawford spearheading the assault on the structural integrity of the rims at Madison Square Garden, the Celtics shot 19 percent from the field — seriously, 19 percent — in the second half of an 87-71 loss, dropping them into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series. Much of the credit for the Knicks’ turnaround has gone to Carmelo Anthony, who surpassed 30 points for the second time in as many games in this series. Truthfully, Anthony has been brilliant. In Game 2, he bounced back from a rough start shooting-wise to pour in 19 of his 34 points after the break, while dishing out a very Melo-esque zero assists in 20 second-half minutes. The man who deserves the most credit for the Knicks’ renewed dedication to defense, however, is coach Mike Woodson. Some very smart analysts have broken down how the Knicks’ defense has improved schematically this season, and Tyson Chandler‘s transformative work in the middle should not be undersold. But the biggest change is visible even to observers who can not tell the difference between a pick and roll and a pickle roll. The Knicks just believe they can get stops. That is a quality the Celtics are used to having, but in the first two games, when there was a stop to be made, the Knicks were the team that came through. By the fourth quarter of Game 2, the Knicks switched every screen, even when it left a 35-year-old big man like Kenyon Martin guarding Jason Terry on the perimeter. They just didn’t care. They knew Martin would be able to check Terry, and their confidence oozed into the crowd. The Celtics went into the game intending to exploit whichever mismatch arose with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green. As it turned out, none did. Even when 6-foot-1 point guard Raymond Felton was forced to defend the 6-foot-6 Pierce, the Knicks did not view it as a mismatch. They viewed it as an opportunity — to create a turnover, to run, to score in transition. Remember, this is less than a third of the way into the amount of games the NBA has allotted for the series. The Knicks protected their home floor, which is what good playoff teams are supposed to do, and now the Celtics have a chance to protect theirs. Even after two awful second halves, the Celtics should not be dismissed yet. Still, the Celtics have to feel a little queasy. This is not the same sort of Knicks squad that used to tense up when the game got tough. These Knicks respond to adversity, take whatever the Celtics can throw and give it right back. There has to be something unsettling about seeing a hated rival beat you at your own game. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Cormier tells Jones to get his s-- together

Fans holding 'Free Tom Brady Rally' at Gillette Stadium

Josh Hamilton to be activated by Rangers

WATCH: Top CB recruit makes insane catch doing backflip

Biggest surprises of the MLB season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Marcus Mariota leads NFL in jersey sales for May

Report: Scott Skiles frontrunner for Magic coaching job

Shanahan: injuries are not why Robert Griffin III struggles

Kyle Korver ruled out for remainder of playoffs

Randy Moss attends cancer survivor's graduation

Roger Staubach shares thoughts on Greg Hardy

Warriors crush Rockets in Houston to take 3-0 series lead

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell whiffs on horrible golf swing

Brian Matusz ejected for having foreign substance on arm

PHOTO: Don Cherry wears wild suit even for his taste

PHOTOS: Gigantic sinkhole at Jack Nicklaus golf course

WATCH: Memphis player catches defense sleeping, scores

WATCH: Astros turn around-the-horn triple play

French Open Women's preview: Who will make the quarters?

WATCH: Bryan Price gets ejected before game starts

WATCH: Vin Scully narrates fan's marriage proposal

WATCH: Harper, Matt Williams have special handshake

The Yankees are succeeding despite the numbers

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Vin Scully narrates marriage proposal

Pats fan's obituary defends Brady

Marlins players skip own charity event

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.