Thursday, May 2, 2013

Celtic Pride, 2004 Red Sox, and the Men in Black.

They can go from brilliant to asinine to in a New York minute. That is precisely what the New York Knickerbockers have done. Perhaps it is cognitive. They become unhinged at the slightest provocation. Unless Will Smith called and requested a hoops homage, the team's decision to dress in all black to ostensibly preside over a mock Celtic playoff burial  was about as bright  as the guy who robbed the liquor store next to the police station. From JR Smith's "inadvertent elbow," to his ill-timed trash talk, bad judgement and the Knicks seem to sync like bad hair and Donald Trump. It simply underscores the fragility of that little thing called momentum. When you are up 3 games to zero, mentally tough teams are locked-in on sucking the life out of the opposition and closing out the series. Not the Knicks. Their first-round playoff drought dates back to 1999. Until this year they have won a grand total of three post-season games. Their unearned arrogance is steeped in some opague  logic and fake tough-guy bravado.  Providing fuel to fire up the listless Celtic team is just what the Knicks did not need. The battle-scarred, championship-lathered Celtics are imbued with  the mettle of 17 banners hovering above, global empathy from the recent Boston terrorist act, and the still fresh memories of their brethren in Fenway's 2004 historic resuscitation from a 3-game World Series deficit to defeat the  New York Yankees.

As they head back to Boston, still up 3 to 2 , do not think for a  minute the Knicks are not feeling a wee bit tight. After, finally winning the division and seemingly toying with the Celtics after three games , the pressure is on. There is a lot at stake.  For championship-famished Knicks fans, Melo may become the new A-Rod-and at least he has a ring.  Carmelo Anthony is weighed down by his playoff impotence. Melo's iso-heavy, ball-stopping, highly-inefficient scoring prowess  has seen success beyond the first round only once in 9 years. Sure he has made tremendous strides this year by learning  to make plays for teammates and play both sides of the ball. But franchise players endure the burden of failure and success like a too heavy anvil draped around your neck. It can feel like Sisyphus in hades.  On the other hand, JR Smith is trying to fumigate the stench of  his litany of off-the-court  transgressions and perpetual on the court erraticism. Winning Sixth-man of the year will be for naught, if the Knicks succumb to a collapse of historic proportions.

Coach Woodson will also feel the wrath of 40 years of pain, if he can not make the requisite adjustments and win this series. His over reliance on three-point ball and unimaginative  iso-ball, is devoid of any weak side plays, half-court flex-motion sets, old school back-door cuts, give-and-go, or post-ups. Play-off ball is about adjustments and adjustments to the adjustments.  Forget the 52 wins and winning the division. If the Knicks suffer another first-round flame out  ........things in NYC will get really, really hot for Woodson, Melo, and Smith. Go ask Willie Randolph and Mark Sanchez. Everything is bigger in NYC-that includes winning and playoff self-immolation.

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