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Middle Kingdom Previews: Game 3

The Celtics have home-court and Robert Randolph's new song. The Knicks have the talent.


大家好, P&T!

I just got back from my wedding in beautiful Changchun - the only city on Earth in which I've seen a man stop his car in the middle of the street so he could pop open his trunk and pull out a broadsword to attack the driver of a bus I was on. Try to guess which of the following questions I DIDN'T hear at my wedding:

  1. "How much do you weigh?"
  2. "Is everyone in your family as fat as you?"
  3. "Why is America trying to destroy World Peace?" (The concept, not the Lakers' forward)
  4. "What kind of meats do foreigners eat?"
  5. "Is it true that foreigners can detach their jaws and swallow animals whole, like anacondas?"
  6. "Can I send my son to live with you in America for a few years so he can learn English?"

Check the answer at the end of this article.

So far, the 2013 Eastern Conference Playoffs have gone pretty much according to plan - the 1,2 and 3 seeds all took care of business at home, and the only compelling match-up has been the 4-5 - meaning everything is running smoothly and to the Knicks' benefit. I know, kids...I'm scared too!

The Knicks have won five games in a row against Boston. How rare a fete are we looking at here? Pretty damn rare. Here's a list of all the five-game winning streaks New York has compiled over Boston in the shot clock era:

Rk Team First Last Games
1 New York Knicks 2013-01-24 2013-04-23 5
6 New York Knicks 1993-04-08 1998-01-19 21
20 New York Knicks 1970-10-13 1971-11-26 8
22 New York Knicks 1968-12-18 1969-03-01 5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/26/2013.

The first two games of this series proved what most basketball observers knew deep-down but were often afraid to admit, for fear of shattering the sacred "playoffs are a whole 'nother ballgame" narrative: this Knicks team is clearly better than the Celtics. They have the best far. They have the best farther than far. Hell, with Kenyon Martin playing out of his mind, and with Tyson Chandler hopefully shaking off some of the rust in Game 2, the Knicks probably have the better defense at this point.

All that being said, this Game 3 in Boston can't be taken lightly. The game is already being played up as "The Last Stand of the Boston Celtics," and it certainly has a "last stand" feel to it. Given the very real playoff stakes, the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett history, and the fact that this will be the first Celtics game in Boston since the tragic events of last week, I'm sure every fan in Boston and New York expects the Celtics to come out strong on Friday night.

Oh yeah...Friday night. How could I forget? Toward the end of the regular season I analyzed New York's surprising run of success this year on Friday nights. So what does Robert Randolph, a.k.a. the Knicks' Antichrist, decide to do? He writes a new song! This is not good, people.

As you may have guessed, the Knicks haven't won a Friday night playoff game in quite a while. Their last Friday night playoff win came at MSG on May 19, 2000 - Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, against Miami. For those who don't remember, that was a magnificent series - the Knicks fell behind three games to one, and fought back to win the next three, clinching the series by winning Game 7 in Miami. They wouldn't have made it to Game 7, however, had they not defied Robert Randolph, who was probably casting hexes in his high school jazz band at the time, by winning Game 6 on a Friday Night. My favorite line from that evening:

Basic Box Score Stats
Kurt Thomas 4:00 0 2 .000 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/26/2013.

Kurt Thomas, ladies and gentlemen! That's three fouls in four minutes - and we're talking about an old-school, turn-of-the-century Knicks-Heat series, when men were men, and fouls were fouls. Using the Historical Foul Converter I just invented in my head, I reckon Kurt's three fouls would equal roughly 16 flagrant fouls today. I couldn't find any game footage, but here's a nice clip of the pregame ceremonies:

If you know of a better description of those Heat teams than "a few crusty bitches and a handful of rag-tags", I'd sure like to hear it.

You'll have to go even back even further into history to find the last Knicks Friday night playoff win on the road: May 19, 1995 - Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, at Indiana. Let's just not talk about Game 7, shall we? Current NBA referee Haywoode Workman played in that game, so be on the lookout for him - if he's crewing tonight's game, we are screwed. Also, doesn't "Haywoode Workman" sound like some kind of 12th century Middle English name you might find in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer?

Quoth Haywoode Workman: "Yon Kyckerbocker forward of goodly power doth trod unto paynted soil nigh three seconds greater. God granteth Bos-towne shire free throws of technycal nayture!!!

So the Knicks have all of this working against them; do they have anything working in their favor? They do have vastly superior players...if you're into that sort of thing. There's this guy, maybe you've heard of him, by the name of Carmelo Anthony. He did some fine work this season - 28.7 PPG with .449 FG%/.379 3P% - to which the basketball world replied: "Who gives a crap? Show us something in the playoffs."And what has he shown these past two games, against the league's 7th-ranked defense? How about 35 PPG with .453 FG%/.600 3P% (!!!). There has been a brief period in both games where Melo has gone cold, prompting a wave of panic throughout Knicks websites the world over: has Melo lost it? Have the Celtics figured him out?, and no. In both games Melo saved his best for last...which is a good thing, I believe. Here's hoping the Knicks can keep this game close through the first half (again) so that Melo can take over (again). It's high time the Knicks took the Atlantic crown from the Celtics once and for all, and here's hoping the best player in the Atlantic is the one who seals the deal.

Chinese Wedding Quiz Answer: #5 - though it is possible someone asked me...I don't know the Chinese word for "anaconda"

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