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Knicks vs. Celtics: Funeral talk, shaky offense costing New York

Whether it was the Knicks' off-court gimmickry or their on-court insistence on isolation, the squad was out of sorts in Game 5 against Boston, and could be trouble after taking a 3-0 series lead.


Something went wrong with the New York Knicks. After blowing out the Boston Celtics in Games 2 and 3 to take a commanding 3-0 lead, the Celtics have bounced back to cut New York's series lead to 3-2.

Sunday, the Celtics won in overtime in Game 4, thanks to a 10-for-35 shooting day by Carmelo Anthony. Wednesday, it was J.R. Smith carrying the poor-offense reins, shooting 3-for-14 after missing his first 10 shots. Everyone has their own theories about why something is amiss with the Knicks, troubling stuff as the team tries to close out the series for a third time in front of what should be a raucous Boston crowd.

If you're the type of person who believes what the Knicks do off the court had something to do with their play on it, there's plenty of fodder for you, starting with the Knicks' stunt to wear all-black before Wednesday night's game -- Boston's funeral. Paul Flannery wrote about the stunt -- and the Celtics' reaction, featuring their apparent revival from the dead -- in detail. Knicks coach Mike Woodson spoke to the media Thursday about how he'd wished he'd stopped his squad from the sartorial diss:

Tyson Chandler defended the decision, and has a title to back up his point:

Other quality off-court reasons to speculate about: Jordan Crawford's words to Carmelo Anthony after the game -- lipreaders apply -- and J.R. Smith's off-night behavior.

However, if you're one of those who thinks the result of the game was determined by how the teams played between the lines, there are even more problems, as the Knicks have become addicted to one-on-one scoring:

Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting went into detail in his postgame recap:

The amount of iso the Knicks are running isn't normal or healthy. And again: It's not that New York is just handing off to Melo or J.R. Smith and falling asleep every time down. They're doing that too often, but the other problem is attempting initial action-- a basic high pick-and-roll, the double hand-off, or more unusual pick-and-rolls with Melo as the screener or screenee-- failing, then having no other option but to go iso. Play calls get busted for all kinds of reasons-- bad screens, bad spacing, just great defense-- and the Knicks need to be ready to do some other shit when that happens.

The Knicks have thrived this season on offense, setting the record for most three-pointers made in a season and finishing third in the league in offensive efficiency. It's been sparked by several players capable of running the pick-and-roll, a floor spread with three or four above-average shooters at all times and the strong play of Anthony, who led the league in scoring while also passing prettily when teams doubled.

Whether due to strong defense by the Celtics, poor decision-making by Mike Woodson and the five players he's put on the court, or some combination of the two, the Knicks offense has become broken in this series, their season-long strong play seemingly evaporated. Despite that, they're up 3-2 in the series, with a fourth game that went to overtime and a fifth that was decided by six points. They still have two opportunities to advance with a win, but there's reason for worry.

More from SB Nation:

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