The Knicks showed up in black suits to Game 5 Wednesday night against the Celtics. For most of the first half of Game 6 Friday in Boston, it felt like the Celtics were already in their coffins. But a late surge in the second quarter kept the Celtics within striking distance, and the Knicks lead by a 39-27 margin after a first half in which they had the upper hand without question.
Here's our review of the keys to Game 6:
1. Will the Knicks stop running so much iso?
They've certainly run much better offense for the most part, getting Pablo Prigioni three treys in the first quarter and assisting on nine of 15 made field goals. But isolation addict Carmelo Anthony's quiet first half had plenty to do with his play in iso situations.
Anthony was just 5-of-12 from the field in the half, for 14 points, and took just two threes, missing both; four of his nine shots inside the arc were midrange jumpers, and just two went down. Anthony did add two assists and five rebounds in the half, but his recent shooting slump seemed to still be ongoing until the final minute, when he hit the Knicks' last shot of the half despite contact.
J.R. Smith didn't help much, either: the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year has three points on five shots.
2. Can the Celtics keep hitting shots?
In a word, no. In more words than no: a terrible, terrible half from the field still hasn't buried Boston.
The Celtics shot 23.5 percent from the floor in the first half, as the Knicks did an excellent job of keeping them out of the paint and Paul Pierce struggled mightily, going 1-for-10 from the floor. And before two consecutive threes by Jeff Green and Jason Terry sparked an 8-0 run, the Celtics made just six of their first 29 shots.
Terry has five points on that three and a fast-break lay-up, so he hasn't been the spark that he was in Game 5, but, in fairness, no one has been a spark for the Celtics
3. Can the Knicks dodge Kevin Garnett's bullying?
Garnett has been excellent defensively, helping keep the Knicks out of the paint and pulling down five rebounds. And he's been good offensively, making a team-high three shots. But he's been unable to impose his will as he so often has in his Celtics career, and got whistled for an offensive foul on one attempt to post up against Anthony.
So far, the Knicks have done a good job of making Garnett a mean-mugger, instead of suffering a mean mugging.