The Knicks took the Celtics lightly in Game 5 last night.
THE KNICKS FADE TO BLACK
For a team with their limited success the New York Knicks do have a tendency to get a bit full of themselves. In the spring of 1974, in Hartford to announce his team would play some regular season home games at the city’s brand new Civic Center when it opened the following winter, legendary Celtics general manager Red Auerbach joked that the spring before the Knicks had won the NBA title and by the end of the summer 13 books came out about it. His punch line wasn’t far from being accurate. Last night, with a 3-1 lead over the Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs the Knicks players showed up for game five at Madison Square Garden with black suits, which they hung in their lockers for a planned post game funeral for the Celts. Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and company weren’t in the mood for a wake. Garnett and Green led the Celts to a 92-86 win that sends the series back to Boston for game six. The Knicks still have a 3-2 lead and could put the Celtics away tomorrow night, but they’d be well advised to leave the Blues Brothers outfits home. The dynamics have changed considerably. The Celtics now have the momentum in the series, with two straight wins, including their first road win over a team with a winning record since March 6th, and they’re back on their home court. They’ve been tough in Boston all year, despite the embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Knicks in the emotional aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. Still, you’d have to be crazy to pick the Celts to beat the rejuvinated Knicks in this series, but the Knicks were crazy to take the Celtics lightly in game five. If they want to use those black suits, they’d be appropriate attire for burying that attitude. The Knicks have tasted a lot of success this season and it’s gone to their head. The Celtics have tasted a lot of success over their history and it serves them well against any upstart wannabes, like the Knicks, who haven’t won an NBA title since that one in 1973. The Celtics have won six of their 17 in the interim, one of them since the last time the Knicks were even in an NBA final. In the last 13 seasons the Knicks have made the playoffs just five times. In the last decade they’ve won just two post season games. The Celts are perennial playoff advancers. Teams like that should never be given an inch, giving them a sixth game at home after taking a 3-0 lead is tantamount to giving them a mile. If the Celtics force game seven it won’t matter where it’s played, all bets are off. While the Yankees disabled list was claiming 60 percent of their top position players, Mets fans were burning up the New York talk show lines, planning a wake in the Bronx. The Yankees have a history of winning, the Mets don’t. Winners can dig deep into their pedigree and find ways to win. Mets fans would gladly change places with their brethren across the East River right now. If the Knicks don’t lose the black suits, and the attitude that goes with them, it may just be their own funeral they’re wearing them to. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.