Final Score: Celtics: 71 Knicks: 87
It was déjà vu at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night as Game 2 between the Knicks and Celtics was eerily similar to Game 1 Saturday afternoon. The game played out almost in the exact same fashion as the Celtics played a strong first half but the Knicks bombarded them in the second half, looking like a totally different team, to pull away and get the win. It has been a long time since the Knicks were in a position like this in the playoffs, as 2000 was the last time they held a 2-0 lead in a series; it is also the last time the Knicks won a playoff series. The Knicks have yet to do anything in the series yet, just winning their first two home games like they are supposed to and will get at it again with the Celtics Friday night as Game 3 will be played in Boston at 7 P.M. ET.
- It was unlikely, but the Knicks second half tonight actually outdid their second half from Saturday afternoon in Game 1. Tonight the Knicks held the Celtics to an all-time playoff low 23 points in the second half, as the Celtics struggled to score once again on offense, going seven of 36 from the field in the final two quarters. This is a testament also to the Knicks effort on the defensive end as they came out looking like a different team after halftime and hammered the Celtics in the second half.
- A catalyst in that great defensive play tonight was Kenyon Martin. Martin once again came off the bench and provided a spark on the defensive end as his toughness brought an edge to the Knicks on the court that Tyson Chandler provided more of tonight but still looked a little out of place. Martin picked up the slack though, grabbing 11 rebounds and punching a number of Celtics shots en route to four blocks in the game. Martin added two assists as well for good measure, as he is giving the Knicks everything and more they could ask for.
- After a dominant performance in Game 1, in which he scored 26 points, Jeff Green was held in check tonight by the Knicks defense. Tonight he managed to score only 10 points on three of 11 shooting from the field in 35 minutes. He managed to grab only one rebound, had one assist and block while committing four personal fouls. The Celtics will struggle to outscore the Knicks if Green is not making shots.
- A big reason for the Knicks playing well tonight was the fact they were able to take Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce out of the game basically from the get-go but definitely in the second half. Garnett was mired in foul trouble all night, playing only 24 minutes. It was a struggle for Pierce on the offensive end all night, even with the height advantage he held over his matchups in Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert all night, going eight of 19 from the field and picking up five personal fouls of his own. The Celtics have zero chance of even competing, let alone winning the series, if Garnett and Pierce are being taken out of the game in the fashion they have the first two games.
- Shumpert sparked a Knicks onslaught to start the second half by knocking down two three pointers that got the Knicks rolling on a 20-4 run. In that third quarter is when the Knicks pushed their will upon the Celtics led by Carmelo Anthony, who scored 13 of his 34 points in the third quarter to put the Knicks ahead for good. Anthony would shoot 11 of 24 on the night as a slow start did not keep him down for long.
- J.R. Smith received his Sixth Man of the Year award prior to the game and went on to show the fans exactly why he got it. Smith checked in early for Shumpert, who picked up two early fouls, subsequently knocking down three fade away jumpers to start his scoring night. Smith cooled down as the game wore on but finished with 19 points on seven of 15 from the field, including two of four from the foul line; one of which was a buzzer beater from 30-feet to end the first quarter.
- Raymond Felton played another great game for the Knicks, picking his spots to score effectively. Felton scored 16 points on eight of 15 shooting as he is starting to become a consistent third option behind Anthony and Smith scoring the basketball. Tonight he also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out two assists as he got stronger as the game wore on. He also played great defense against Pierce, whom he was assigned to for most of the night with Pablo Prigioni getting back into the lineup tonight. Another great stat for Felton tonight was the fact that he did not turn the ball over once.
- Whatever it is that Mike Woodson tells the Knicks at halftime to get them going he should try to do at the beginning of the game as well. For the second time in as many games in the series the Knicks played a below-average first half as the Celtics were able to go on some runs of their own and go into the half with a six-point lead. They will have to bring more intensity to start the game Friday night as you know the Celtics will be pumped up to play in front of their home crowd for Game 3, especially after the tragedy in Boston during the marathon; this will be the Celtics first game at home since those events.