Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 4/24/13
For the Knicks, winning game one of their playoff series with the Celtics was simply about beginning to take control. Winning game two meant that New York began to silence the nay-sayers who believed the Knicks should still be considered underdogs.Despite getting swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs just two seasons ago, the tables have now turned, and the Knicks truly look like a top team in the Eastern Conference.Because the Celtics are still a gritty team led by two future surefire Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, it's clear they won't go down easy. Boston went back and forth with the Knicks in game two, even taking a small lead into the second half.But the Knicks are proving to be the more dominant team with the game on the line. Though New York's offense looked slow and stagnant throughout the first half, they came out raring to go in the second half for the second straight game.It was then that the shots began to fall. Carmelo Anthony fought through double-teams when he could and looked towards the basket as he hit fade-aways against Boston's plethora of defenders. When he couldn't go the basket, Anthony had to look for his teammates, racking up those extra hockey assists.But it was up to the forward's teammates to get open, and playing against the Celtics' defense, sometimes that can prove to be difficult. Still, there wasn't all too much movement in the second half. The difference however, on offense, was that Raymond Felton came to play.Going to the basket with an aggression Knicks fans have craved for quite a while, Felton attacked and slipped through Boston's defense with a cookie-cutter attack. Pouring in the points as he sprinted to the basket, Felton added 16 points to complement Anthony's 34.And then there was J.R. Smith, of course. Fresh off winning this season's "Sixth Man of the Year" award, the swingman provided an offensive spark and some excitement off the bench. He added 17 points of his own.The trio of Knickerbockers may have poured in the points to help New York stay afloat in game two, but it was once again their defense that shut Boston down and ultimately won game two.With 2011-12 "Defensive Player of the Year" Tyson Chandler all but non-existent for the second game in a row, it was Kenyon Martin who helped silence the Celtics' offense. The loud and proud forward was all over the place defensively, soaring in to grab rebounds and roaring out ever time he attacked Boston's offensive line for a block. Much like the Knicks have desired, Martin has served as the type of veteran presence that knows how to change the defensive culture and ignite the Knicks instantly on that side of the floor. He only added 4 points, but grabbed 11 boards and swatted away 4 blocked shots.As they shut down the likes of Garnett and Pierce offensively, the Knicks worked to also neutralize them defensively too. New York drew five fouls on each player and made sure to get into their heads. Both players seemed to check out of the game mentally early on as frustrations began to mount.With such a victory, the Knicks have taken control. It'll be difficult to win in Boston, so it was important that the Knicks deflate the Celtics by winning the first two at home.New York deserves to be where they are, and proved to the basketball world (at least for a couple of nights) that they're in fact the better team. Sweeping the Celtics would be nice, but if the Knicks could come away having split the two games in Beantown, they should still be content enough to come back to the Big Apple and win the series at home with confidence.
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