GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Confidence could come easy, given the way the Knicks won the first two games of the their first-round series against the Celtics. They held the Celtics to 8 points in the final quarter of Game 1 and 23 points in the second half of Game 2. There was little Boston could do to dent New York’s defense down the stretch in either game.
And yet, the Knicks said all the right things after practice Thursday before traveling to Boston for Friday’s Game 3. They acknowledged that winning on the road isn’t easy, especially when that home is Boston, especially with what the city has endured since the Celtics last played a home game.
“After Game 1, we had to act as if we were down one,’’ Jason Kidd said. “And in that second half, that third quarter, we acted as if we needed to win that game. That’s the same approach we’ve got to take in Game 3. We’ve got to act as if we’re down.’’
As they keep repeating, those first two games were in Madison Square Garden and, so far, they’ve only held on to their home court.
“Boston is a talented team,’’ Kidd said. “We’ve got to find a way to win on the road, and we know that they’re going to come with their best game tomorrow night.’’
Added Carmelo Anthony, “We’re going in there trying to win the game. We can’t go in there trying to knock them out. We take one possession at a time.’’
The Knicks will get their chance at TD Garden on Friday.
“It’s going to be hostile for us,’’ J.R. Smith said. “Boston, if you’re the home team, it’s a great place to play. If you’re the away team, it’s a nightmare.’’
Because of that, coach Mike Woodson had called getting his team to remain composed “a main focal point as we go in for Game 3’’ in his conference call Wednesday. He added, “We can’t get caught up in all the hoopla that’s going to surround this game.’’
Despite the fact no NBA team has come back from a 3-0 series deficit, the Knicks said they just want to get through Friday night. That’s what they need. They can worry about Sunday when it comes, whether they’re up 3-0 or 2-1.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,’’ Tyson Chandler said. “The only thing we did was protect our home court, which was what we were supposed to do.’’
The hoopla includes the fact the Celtics are returning to Boston after a difficult and emotional time since the Marathon bombings. Chandler, who watched New York deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, was asked about the effect of tragedy on a city and a fan base.
“If anybody knows struggle and tragedy, it’s the city of New York, so we understand very well what they’re going through,’’ Chandler said. “We expect them to play with pride for their city, which they’ve been doing. These games haven’t been easy.’’
A pain in the neck
Meanwhile, the Knicks are trying to get Chandler back to health. He hasn’t played well in the first two games coming off a neck injury. “Tyson is a major piece to this puzzle,’’ Woodson said. “The fact that he was off — he’s lost a little weight — and we’re trying to get his strength back up.’’ . . . Asked if there would be a measure of redemption if the Knicks were able to sweep the Celtics, after having been swept two years ago, Anthony said, “If that happens, I would be super duper happy, excited about that. I can’t lie. But I know that’s going to be tough.’’