Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Are the Knicks on the verge of a historic collapse?
This is the first time in franchise history that the Knicks have gone up 3-0 in a playoff series and then lost their next two games.
While that creates some uneasiness among Knicks fans, the bottom line is this: No team has ever come back from down 0-3 to win a series.
The Knicks are also in the driver's seat because Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have mostly played well in the series, and it's been rare for them this season to have a poor shooting performance two or three games in a row. But they're good scorers and find ways to adjust. That's a credit to their maturity, which Mike Woodson and their teammates have addressed this season. Another plus is that they're surrounded by several prolific veterans who have led their teams to deep playoff runs -- even the championship.
While the Knicks' funereal look before Game 5 exuded confidence, they shouldn't act too confident on the court in Game 6. That mentality got them into trouble on Wednesday night, and it showed in their lazy defensive rotations. The Celtics had some of the most wide-open looks they've had all series, and they finished at 45.7 percent from the field (the Knicks were at 39.5). The Celtics brought more of an intensity to the game.
The overall key for the Knicks in Game 6 is their half-court execution, on both ends of the floor. The Knicks are going to look to take advantage of their smaller lineups by pushing the pace, but the Celtics' transition defense has improved in the series. Therefore, when the Knicks are forced to slow it down and run half-court sets, they will need to be more clever and efficient than resorting to isolation play, like in Games 4 and 5.
The Knicks need to be more active offensively and defensively like they were when they took a 3-0 lead -- not active off the court. Enough with Smith saying things like the Celtics should be swept so he can play golf, or the team suggesting they're going to a Celtics burial with their black attire. That's only fuel for the Celtics.
The Knicks need to let their play on the court do the talking, but will it adjust well enough to stave off the Celtics?
How worried are you about a Knicks' collapse? Leave us your comments below.
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