The Knicks remain in search of their first playoff win in 10 years because they couldn’t close out the Celtics in Sunday’s Game 1. Here are three ways to insure the Knicks won’t be facing a 2-0 deficit when they return to Madison Square Garden for Game 3 on Friday.
1. Still more defense
The Knicks played an overall outstanding defensive game. But Chauncey Billups' expected Game 2 absence with a sprained left knee will have a huge impact on that end. Replacement Toney Douglas will have to step up. If not, offensive-minded coach Mike D'Antoni will have to figure out something. Keeping Landry Fields out there after the job he did on Ray Allen in the first quarter should help.
2. Hot hand
The Knicks have to shoot better overall than they did during a horrific second half. Feeding the hot hand is the way to do it, and on Sunday that person was Amar’e Stoudemire, not Carmelo Anthony (1-of-11, three points in the second half). So why did the ball end up in Anthony’s hands for the last shot after Stoudemire had scored 12 fourth-quarter points on 6-of-7 shooting? Because the Knicks never tried to get it there. Set up a play to free up Stoudemire in the paint in the final seconds and you’ve got a better shot.
3. Deny Rajon
Rajon Rondo is quite a force for Boston, as evidenced by his pinpoint inbounds pass for a Kevin Garnett jam that took all of half a second in crunch time. Rondo did similar things all game when he wasn’t scoring himself, and finished a rebound and an assist short of a triple-double. Better to front the 25-year-old point guard and make him work to score than to allow him the space to use his great vision to find teammates hovering along the baseline.