Van Gundy: Knicks need to keep their cool

Jeff Van Gundy says the Knicks can't lose their cool when times get tough on the court. Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

Former Knicks coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy says the Knicks need to keep their cool if they want to make a run to the NBA championship.

"I think poise under pressure is an incredibly importantly part of winning it all," Van Gundy said Monday in an interview on ESPN 98.7 FM's "The Michael Kay Show."

"I think, having been a apart of some teams that have gotten into some skirmishes, the ability to take what you think are unnecessary shots at you or not getting calls that go your way and ... to continue on and press on and not get distracted by those things, I think is an incredibly important part to winning it all."

The Knicks have lost their cool in several instances this season.

The most recent example is J.R. Smith's elbow to Jason Terry in Game 3 of the Knicks-Celtics series.

Smith was suspended for Game 4. The Celtics won the game in overtime and seemed to benefit from Smith's absence.

The Knicks' bench scored just seven points. Carmelo Anthony shot 10-for-35 and seemed to miss Smith, who draws attention from opposing defenders.

The Knicks have another chance to close out Boston in Game 5 on Wednesday.

"If your goal is to win it all, which the Knicks certainly have the right to think that they are in that conversation [to do], then I think they really have to keep their intensity high but also up their level of toleration for what they may perceive to be missed calls or overly aggressive play," said Van Gundy, who coached the Knicks in 1997 when a Charlie Ward-P.J. Brown fight led to suspensions and cost the Knicks a series win over Miami.

This year's Knicks have also lost their cool a few times in the regular season.

They melted down in the third quarter of a loss to Memphis early in the season; three Knicks received technicals in a pivotal run. Three Knicks were ejected in an ugly January loss to the Bulls. And, of course, there was was the Anthony/Garnett incident in January.

Three incidents over 82 games isn't significant, but other teams certainly took note.

"They've got to be able to stay in that moment and not put themselves in harm's way for unnecessary technical fouls or ejections," Van Gundy said.