In Game 4, the Knicks finally won a playoff game against the big bad Miami Heat, after a horrific, unprecedented 13 straight playoff losses. The 13 losses set a playoff and record and was particularly rare because it required the team to be swept consecutively in many random different years.
The key to the Knicks victory on Sunday was pretty simple; Amare Stoudemire came back from his embarrassing cut-to-the-hand injury to get a double-double and seemingly played with true purpose for the first time since Carmelo Anthony joined the team 15 months ago. For his part, Mr. Anthony was the best player on the court, ending up with 41 points.
When you get that kind of performance from your two stud All-star players you can beat any team on any given night, although even with the excellence from the Amare/Carmelo duo, the Knicks still barely squeaked it out, as J.R. Smith was dreadful from the field, reminding the Garden of John Starks in Game 7 of the 1994 Finals.
The Rockland County Times was in attendance for Game 3 and while the Knicks played okay during the first three quarters and particularly well during parts of the second quarter, they faded down the stretch. The highlight of the night for pretty much everyone at the Garden was being in the same building as swimsuit model Kate Upton. In light of the team’s uninspired fourth quarter their robust play on Sunday was a pleasant surprise.
Sadly, Baron Davis added to the Knicks injury woes in Game 4, going down with a truly gruesome knee injury. As he drove the lane his knee buckled and seemed to become unhinged. Players on both teams cringed and prayed for Davis. Murmers about Jeremy Lin ushering in a surprise dose of Linsanity don’t appear to be realistic, so for the Knicks to force a Game 6 tonight (Wednesday) will take another fantastic effort from Amare and Carmelo plus an equally outstanding offensive performance from J.R. Smith or the invisible man, Steve Novack. It’s not likely, but anything is possible.
Rangers & Devils
Oh my, will it be a repeat of the 1994 Stanley Cup semifinals? It is possible, dear readers, that you will know the answer to that question before you pick up this newspaper. Let us hope it is the case.
The Rangers are facing the Washington Capitals in D.C. tonight (Wednesday) after winning two adventurous one-of-a-kind games in this series. In Game 3 the Rangers dodged several bullets to win in triple overtime 2-1 and then in Game 5 at the Garden they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as Brad Richards scored a goal on a 6-4 power play advantage, with only 6.6 seconds left, tying the game at two apiece.
A slapshot by Marc Staal less than two minutes into overtime won the game quickly for the Blueshirts who now head back to Washington to hopefully finish it out. Meanwhile their cross-region rival the New Jersey Devils mean business this year, as legendary goaltender Marty Brodeur wants at least one more run at glory. The Rangers should win the series against the Capitals, what with destiny on their side and all, and then storm New Jersey and win that series in six, setting up a finals most likely against the red hot Los Angeles Kings.
Too early to make a prediction yet, but the Rangers have shown the potential to be a Stanley Cup winner this year, and it feels like the first time they’ve had a truly good chance to win it all since 1994. They made a nice run in 1997, even upsetting the Devils in five games in Round 2, but you never felt like it was their year. This year it could be their year, they have a real shot.
Mets & Yankees
So far in 2012 the Mets have been the fortunate sons of New York baseball, with a 17-13 record, coming up with timely hitting from surprising sources, while the Yankees must face the devastation of losing Mariano Rivera for the rest of the season and coming to terms with the lack of production from A-Rod, which is probably permanent now. On the bright side, Derek Jeter has been great and Mark Texeira is bound to heat up at some point.
Mets fans don’t want to get too optimistic as the team fizzled in 2010 and 2011 after decent starts to both seasons, but things are looking up at CitiField, and the future may be coming on fast. The Yankees may very well find themselves in a situation where they have to wait for next year, for a change. They just don’t look so great and have been hit by injuries to starting and relief pitching.
The Mets also have faced a rash of injuries but with the exception of Mike Pelfrey most of their guys should come back solid. In the meantime the minor leaguers have been making the most of their opportunity on the big stage.