Hamilton: Knicks Take Boston in What Was Secretly a ‘Must Win’ Game

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“Must win” is probably one of the more overused expressions among NBA fans, and especially Knicks fans. But Thursday night in Boston, it would have been appropriate.

To most around the NBA, Carmelo Anthony’s team is fugazi.

The Knicks don’t rebound particularly well. Their defense is inconsistent. They are going to set the NBA record for 3-pointers hoisted in a season.

They’re not bruisers, they’re not bangers. From here, they look to be the quintessential “win 55 games and lose in the first round” team.

They’re not tough. If you pound on them, they’ll crumble.

Back on Jan. 7 against the rival Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden, all of that was true. And Anthony’s 6-for-26 shooting performance and subsequent pursuit of Kevin Garnett proved it.

On Thursday night, 17 days later, the Knicks had a chance at redemption. Collectively, the squad had an opportunity to not only keep the Brooklyn Nets at bay in their bid to overtake the Knicks for the Atlantic Division lead, but the Knicks had an opportunity to extend Boston’s losing streak to five – their longest of the season.

The Knicks had a chance to prove they are no longer merely the punching bag of the Bostonians and that ‘Melo’s Knicks, today, were actually able to win a game at the TD Banknorth Garden – unlike in 2011, when the Celtics swept the Knicks out of the playoffs.

The Celtics may be older and the cast of characters slightly different, but green is green. The same way the Miami Heat were able to overcome the Celtics is the same way the Knicks need to prove that they can.

And that all starts with a road win. The Knicks hadn’t won in Boston since 2006, when Steve Francis was their leading scorer and Garnett was still in Minnesota.

Make no mistake, as the Knicks seek to maintain their place atop the division and in the
conference contender conversation, they needed a victory that could build some momentum. Heading into Boston, the Knicks were just 4-5 in January and hadn’t won three consecutive games in more than a month.

So yes, it was a must win.

That the Knicks did is cause for excitement.

How they did?

That is cause for giddiness.

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