Hidden Keys for NY Knicks to Win First-Round Series

Mathias Ask@@MathiasAskCorrespondent IIApril 25, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks dribbles against Brandon Bass #30 of the Boston Celtics during Game two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 23, 2013 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have taken a commanding 2-0 lead against the Boston Celtics after exorcising a couple playoff demons that have been haunting them for over a decade.

The Knickerbockers have been playing solid playoff basketball in the second halves of both games to shut down Boston, which has been performing at historically low levels

But while the Celtics’ horrible offensive display and Carmelo Anthony’s dominance are the obvious reasons why the Knicks are going to win this series, there are several keys being overlooked. 

Here are a couple of other reasons why the Knicks are going to win based on the first two games.

The Knicks can trust their bench players to step up in big moments when they need them to.

Take Iman Shumpert for example. He had only six points in Game 2, but they were big-time plays. The Knicks were down 42-48 coming out of the first half, but two quick three-pointers by Shumpert tied the game up.

New York followed up by taking a 62-52 lead, and it continued to hold that lead for the rest of the game. 

Shumpert is 3-of-5 from downtown in this series, and while he and the rest of the team are wisely leaving the heavy lifting for Melo, hopefully he can keep showing those positive signs. Those two baskets in Game 2 were a big step for him.

The Knicks have history on their side, because the Celtics have not won a series after being down 2-0 in 44 years.

To say that this is not a comfortable position for Boston would be an understatement. The Knicks used to be its punching bag but not anymore, and it doesn't know how to respond.

All the interviews coming out of Boston during this series reek of a certain sense of desperation, whether it’s Jeff Green saying the Celtics aren’t making shots they normally make or Doc Rivers talking about extreme circumstances and the need to do something.

J.R. Smith has been solid in this series so far, going 7-of-19 for 15 points in Game 1 and 7-of-15 for 19 points in Game 2. However, his numbers improve quite a bit once you factor out the times he was guarded by Avery Bradley. 

Bradley had the Sixth Man of the Year on lockdown during the second quarter, in which Smith was perfect against every other Celtic. 

The Knicks should be very happy that Bradley only guarded Smith on one field-goal attempt in the entire second half. However, as long as J.R. can make shots like this, the Knicks don't have anything to worry about. 

The Knicks have been doing a great job at staying out of foul trouble as opposed to the regular-season series against the Celtics, and I’m looking at you specifically Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony had three and two personal fouls in the first two games of the playoff series, as opposed to the regular-season series, in which he had three games with four fouls and one with five. Do I also need to mention the Honey Nut Cheerios incident

Melo is the Knicks’ best player hands down, and they simply can’t afford for him to get worked up. The best way he can respond is to do exactly what he’s doing: Keep the fouls to a minimum and continue putting up 30-plus points.