The Knicks are looking to clinch against the Celtics, who are not going away easily. While Carmelo Anthony is off to somewhat of a better start than Game 4 -- he has 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting -- the Celtics have surprised the Knicks with their quick tempo. The Celtics have eight fast-break points; the Knicks only have one. In addition, the Celtics have made the Knicks pay with their weak defensive rotations.
Here are five more observations from the first half:
1. No mercy. For the Celtics, it's win or go home. For the Knicks, it's an opportunity to win their first playoff series since 2000. So both teams are playing very physical, not making anything easy for each other. At the start of the second quarter, Kenyon Martin fouled Kevin Garnett, which initially resulted in a Flagrant 1 but was later removed. After the play, Martin said, "Now that's a foul!" Later on, Garnett returned the favor, smacking J.R. Smith on a drive to the basket.
2. J.R. Brick. In his first game back from suspension, Smith is 0-for-5 from the field. He's 3-for-4 from the line, has two rebounds and an assist. Besides Anthony, the Knicks have no other players in double-figure scoring. The Sixth Man Award winner needs to be that second guy.
3. Melo's timely playmaking. Compared to Game 4, he's not over-dribbling. Tonight, he's making quicker moves in isolation, and he's reading the defense well. On one possession, he got Brandon Bass to bite on a head fake and later he slipped behind him for a layup. In the first quarter, he dished to Raymond Felton for a jump shot and then Pablo Prigioni for a 3-pointer. Entering tonight, Melo only had four assists in the entire series, but he already has two in the first half.
4. Felton's continued penetration. All series long, he's gotten deep into the paint with ease, and consistently finished at the rim. He's taken advantage of the Celtics playing bigger in the backcourt, and that was the case again in Game 5. In the first half, he had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting.
5. Marcus Camby sighting. He got his first minutes of the series late in the second quarter, when Tyson Chandler picked up his third foul. The third-string center had an offensive put-back off of Anthony's missed layup.
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