NEW YORK — The mood around Madison Square Garden is decidedly less spirited today after the Knicks went down 3-0 in their series vs. the Celtics last night. Granted there’s no game here today, but as a member of the security staff said to me on the way in, “we might only be here for another day or two.”
It’s unlikely that this series comes back to New York. Even if the Knicks can find it in themselves to win Game 4 at MSG tomorrow night, it seems improbable that the Knicks will go on the road and win Game 5. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s body language seemed defeated during his postgame press conference last night, but today he told reporters, “We can do this. We can beat these guys.”
The question is whether or not it’s going to be worth it for the Knicks to go all out. Knicks forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire, who admitted last night that he had a “hard time putting my socks and shoes on”, said last night he did not expect to be fully healthy for Game 4.
“There is no way I will be 100 percent Sunday,” Stoudemire said. “I felt good enough to play but I wasn’t 100 percent. I feel bad for the fans. They deserve it.”
Today at Knicks shootaround, Stoudemire admitted he was feeling worse. Chauncey Billups likely won’t play Sunday, meaning Carmelo Anthony will once again be called upon to carry the load by himself. Anthony’s 42-point effort in Game 2 was an eye-opener, but he worked too hard for 15 points in Game 3, going 4 of 16 from the floor.
Anthony said all the right things today. “If we’ve got to foul somebody, if we’ve got to knock somebody out, we’ve got to do whatever we can to avoid a sweep,” he said.
Anthony can say it, but the question is: Do the Knicks mean it? Do they really want to send this series back to Boston knowing that they may not have Stoudemire and Billups there, either? We’ll learn a lot about Anthony’s character, and the character of his teammates, tomorrow night.