Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Knicks 88, Celtics 80

A soft smoke curled lazily over the blood-logged field mere hours after the clash. The sole sound of moaning bodies, corpses in all but name, cut the birds’ best attempt at eulogy. Groans of “GAHHHH-NEEEEEET,” and “PIEEEEAAAAHHHHCE” drew out intermittently, only to be drowned out by last breaths deluged in blood.

Amidst the carnage, a lone group of riders – no more than five in number – trotted down a small, cresting knoll and into a thin thicket of starving pines. There, ensconced beneath a makeshift covering of blankets and forest fodder, laid their General. Jason, the oldest among them, shook the man gently, noting about the General’s head a now blue-knotted wound, the result of a terrible fall just hours before.

“Coach Woodson,” he repeated, softly. Slowly, the old warrior’s eyes opened, darting around to fast assess his keepers. Recognizing them as his own, he let out a deep sigh before speaking.

“Sheeeeeit, man,” he moaned. “The fuck happened?”

“You fell off your horse, like, five minutes in,” Kidd answered. “We dragged you back here for your own safety.”

“Sheeeeeit…. Did we win? I mean, you guys aren’t piled up on some meat wagon. We must’ve won, right?”

“We won,” Kidd responded, cautiously. Pausing, he looked around at his wary countrymen, each battered and bloodied to dire degrees. “Barely. It shouldn’t have been that close.”

Now red with alarm, Woodson shot up in his place, holding his hand to head and inhaling sharply, clearly pained. “What do you mean it shouldn’t have been that close?”

Carmelo, by most accounts the legion’s strongest hand, cut through his comrades and into the General’s view. “I took care of it, man. Ain’t no thang,” he quipped.

“Yeah?” Woodson retorted, the slightest of smiles hooking the corner of his mouth. “You run the offensive we always talk about?”

“I bagged 20. Good day, you know.”

“Where’s Earl?” Woodson bellowed.

“Earl… rode into town,” said Jason. “He spent most of the day galloping around on the perimeter, doing weird horse tricks and shooting into the fray at anything shiny or vaguely in motion. There… there was some friendly fire, a few hundred casualties, but he came back at the end for some easy work.”

Woodson cut him off immediately. “But he’s OK, right? He’s GOT TO be OK! HE’S GOT TO BE OKAY!”

As he attempted to stand, his attendant lot of charges – Jason, Carmelo, Tyson, Raymond, and Camby – moved to keep him down.

“Just stay there, Coach,” Tyson implored. “Earl’s fine. We need you rested up. There’s an uprising happening in the west, out in corn country.”

“Sheeeeit. We going to Indiana? Where are the rest? Where’s Kenyon?”

For a moment no one answered. Carmelo took to rubbing his shoulder, trying not to make eye contact. Finally, with the General’s brow furrowing to a fury all too familiar, Camby spoke.

“He’s, uhh… getting the heads,” he said, sheepishly.

“Heads? What heads?”

“Garnett and Pierce, Coach.”

“Garnett…. They’re dead?”

“We think so.”

“What do you mean, ‘we think so? They’re either dead or they aren’t. What’s this ‘we think so’ shit?”

“Uhh, well, we’re pretty sure,” Camby said. “Look, after you fell, we had them on the ropes – just mowin’ them motherfucker’s down like crab grass. The divisions, man, it’s like there was some telepathy shit goin’ on – guys just knew exactly where each other was. Every time they tried to flank, we’d out-flank them – just ten steps on ‘em every time. And when they tried to take the hill, man, we rolled them fire logs down on them motherfuckers. Shit was in the bag.”

“… The hell do you mean WAS!?” Woodson shot back, now clearly panicked and in full throated screams. “How many men did we lose? How… how many divisions? Where’s Earl? Where’s Kenyon?”

Felton, ever the steady hand, interjected. “Look, things got a little hairy there for a bit. Garnett and Pierce, they…”

“They just what, Raymond?”

“Man, they were deader than dirt. And they just kept getting’ up, their blood everywhere and they was pale as shit, and we kept killin’ ‘em and they just kept gettin’ up! Before we knew it we was down three corps, then six, then twelve. We was reelin’ man. I ain’t never been so scared in my life. I was sick, dizzy. I thought we was cooked, man.”

“Wait, what started it? How the hell did they do that? How’s that even possible?

“Spells, coach,” said Camby. “They had trumpeters up there on the hills blastin’ out victory songs and shit – like, for us! Before we even won! It was some straight up reverse psychology shit – we hear that, and we see all those bodies lyin’ around.”

From the opposite end of the thicket, another rider approached, alone. It was Pablo, the Argentine. Commissioned ahead of the campaign, Pablo had become at once an honorary legionnaire and a mascot, with the sayings and smiles to cut even the din of death.

“Shit, Pablo!” Woodson shouted, hopping to his feet with such force of will that the men could scarce be bothered to stop him.

“Coach! Mates team! I am, as they say, living!”

An audible sigh rose from the group. It had been hours since they’d seen their beloved mercenary, even longer since he made his presence known during the engagement’s first moments. He joined them now, exchanging handshakes and quick embraces, before turning to the General. “Woody Coach, your head! It grows grape bowl!” he said.

“Ahhh shit, it ain’t nothing’. How’d you do out there, Pablo?”

“I make early fire from pants! Then, arrest. Then, more pants fire!”

Sensing the General’s confusion, Kidd interjected. “Pablo’s trying to say he did some serious damage manning the cannonade. Then he took a nap, then came back and did some more damage. Then he took another nap late in the battle. We’re not really sure why.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re OK, Pablo,” Woodson grumbled, before turning to the rest of the crew. “I’m glad you’re all OK. Alright, we make camp here, hope Earl comes back with his bits intact, and we head out tomorrow.”

Another rustle, this time from the direction of the battlefield. The men drew their arms, forming a wall between them and their beleaguered General. Before they could make out the horse-mounted figure, the outline of a severed head, and the unmistakable sound of slowly-dripping blood, revealed the identity of the rider.

“Kenyon!” yawped the General.

“Sup. So, uhhh, I got these here heads,” muttered Kenyon, tossing the one in his possession onto the ground. “There’s Garnett. Pierce is in Cope’s girly-ass backpack.”

Just then, Copeland – a squire who’d fought in many a battle, but whom circumstance doomed to tend the wounded in this day’s joining – strode in behind. Reaching back and into the aforementioned sack, full of flowers by dint of its mark as rookie totem, Copeland pulled out the head of Pierce, the other half of the enemy Janus. The two riders dropped the trophies in unison, near enough their comrades’ sights to elicit gasps at once relieved and recalling dread.

There they stood, all sixteen eyes cast upon the men who’d made so many of their lives an endless hell. They’d fought these men – and many others in that much-heralded army – myriad times for control of the region, only to be beaten back in all but the most trivial of clashes. Even on this campaign, after Carmelo had guided the troops to victory after victory, here these old nemeses were again, old and spent and shells of their conquering selves. But dead? They wouldn’t believe it. Not until this moment.

A few more solemn moments past, Carmelo – the one who’d suffered the most at the enemy’s hands – approached the head of Garnett. Bending over with his healthy right arm, Melo cupped the skull like a melon, bringing it up so that he could meet its eyes, in all aspects of their madness, one final time. Just then, Carmelo felt his hand quickly warming to a burn. Dropping the head, he jumped back, only to watch as the pupils seemed to dart down from the skull. The mouth opened bearing the beast’s trademark fangs, and suddenly the head was suspended in air. The gathered now recoiled, arms drawn, Copeland’s backpack shook and, with a quick upward thrust, ejected the head of Pierce, which sped through the air and to his comrade’s side.

Within seconds, both saw their bodies reappeared; their weapons of war, .45s and mases, back in hand. The men stood there stunned, shaking, unable to aim their wares, let alone fire them. The undead began to cackle through bloody spittle. From their heads spat blue flames so huge and smoldering as to burn from many paces the men’s quivering skins. Faces fully sapped of color, the men stood motionless, as if resigned to death — this impossible death, the only one they could have known. A bright green aura — “Celtic Hellfire” to the few who’d seen it and stayed among the living, and the final sight of many more — enveloped the hellbeasts. This is how it ends.

Then, a pair of faint whistles from the northern-most quarter of the thicket. None could be sure which came first, but as the cutting air caught their ears, two long daggers – one for each enemy head – split the dead’s respective eyes. With a joint, blood-curdling scream, a pair of conflagrations, high and loud and hellish and long, sent them upward and outwards and gone in green smoke. Stillness. The specters ethered, the group looked towards the noise’s source. There in the middle distance, backed by nothing save the setting sun, stood the man they called The Faded One – given name, Shumpert.

Shumpert approached, and the rest of the men said nothing. There, beneath where the demons had taken final leave, lay a single, white headband. To whom it belonged, they all knew — knew as well as they’d known terror all those many years. Favoring his still healing leg, Shumpert kneeled down, scooping the headband up with a single finger. He glanced first at the headband, then back at his brethren, and then finally to the headband once more and with a drawl all present knew to be that of a man who’d earned more stripes than any that long hard day, uttered but a single word.

“Taped.”

44 comments on “Knicks 88, Celtics 80

  1. A Voice of Reason

    Excellent! Absolutely excellent recap! Ah, it just feels so good..I must say that I am very optimistic about the next round. Amare may return and give us something as well! Great series win. Melo, Shumperton, RayRay, Tyson, and good/bad JR..love my team

  2. gmoney_nz

    This is by far and away the best depiction of today’s game as could have been written *slow clap* – well done fine sir

    i have never before felt such an ominous feeling of dread than what was felt in that 6 or so minute stretch where every ghost of past celtics who have haunted the knicks rose up for one last time in full force and gave us one last almighty scare before we managed to close it out. what a game… what a series….what a way to warm up for Indiana. Two lessons learnt from this series, it aint won till its won and dont talk sh*t until its all over! GO NY GO NY GO!

  3. llcoolbp

    Great recap Jim. It’s finally sinking in. I started watching this team the day they drafted patrick ewing. I was 10 then. When the decaded started I was a cocky 25 year old in med school. My life ahead of me. Life was full of endless possibilities. The knicks went to the eastern conference finals that year. 13 long years later. Much has changed in my life. Marriage, baby, the trials and tribulations of life. I’ve lost a lot of the idealism I had when I was 25. I was beat down by life, much like the knicks franchise. This is the time to rise. All things are possible again. With a renewed sense of purpose, bring on the pacers.

  4. AvonBarksdale

    Amazing recap, very Dark Tower (the good parts). Our gunslingers Earl and Melo better remember the face of their fathers coming back through the thinny to rescue past world Spike Lee from the ghost of reggie miller before our reality splits apart at junction just past Amare’s knee tear.

  5. llcoolbp

    Also I’m curious, sheed retired, he’s still hanging out with the team on the bench. How is this possible? I’m not complaining, it’s always good having uncle sheed around.

  6. jon abbey

    I am already getting nervous for the Indiana series, I hate that the turnaround for game 1 is so short. NY needs to protect home court, hopefully they can refocus quickly after tonight.

  7. BigBlueAL

    Its funny hearing Mike Wilbon say this series was good for the Knicks moving forward, even better than a sweep wouldve been.

    I sure hope so but I must say a sweep or winning on Wed wouldve kept me super confident about beating the Pacers and kept my dream alive of possibly beating the Heat. These last 2 games have really shaken my confidence in even beating the Pacers and I dont even wanna think about a matchup vs the Heat.

    But yeah maybe this is a good thing. Slightly less expectations will make the remainder of the playoffs alot easier to watch for me lol. I had been beating the drum about how easy a 1st round series vs the Celtics will be for over a month and I felt no regrets about it after the first 4 games. Last 2 games have scarred me a bit but again maybe its a good thing. Still believe Knicks should and will beat the Pacers and in this series I truly dont care how many games it will take or how ugly some of the wins might look.

  8. BigBlueAL

    jon abbey:
    I am already getting nervous for the Indiana series, I hate that the turnaround for game 1 is so short. NY needs to protect home court, hopefully they can refocus quickly after tonight.

    Im thinking each team will win a road game and the series will be tied 2-2 going into Game 5. Starting Sunday really does suck for the Knicks, would feel alot better if the series started Tuesday.

    But again in this series whatever, dont care how or where they get the 4 wins just get them.

  9. Brian Cronin

    Clearly, we should be nervous about the Pacers, but really, all the Knicks have to do is not suck to start the game and they’ll be fine. The only problem is that the Pacers are the type of team that you can’t really play from behind against. Once you are ahead, they are toast as their offense is not built for comebacks, but if you’re behind, they really don’t collapse like so many other teams do during the playoffs. Even in the Atlanta series, they either got their asses kicked (Games 3 and 4) or they pretty much led from the start (Games 1-2, 5-6).

    So the Knicks just can’t afford to have slow starts like they did against Boston in a few of the games this series.

  10. ruruland

    Seriously amazing recap. Need to keep this one near the top where it can be read a few times.

  11. ruruland

    Tony Pena:
    The Knickerblogger writers are on fire.

    Seriously, how does someone like Cavan not get paid to do this full-time when guys like Mitch Lawrence make 6 figures?

  12. art vandelay

    If we go by the Bill Simmons playoff logic (not saying that it is sensible or anything), we have the best player in the series in Melo (if he exerts his will and they don’t revert to total iso-ball to end the game as they did tonight)…..I think when we turn it up our D is as good as Indiana’s……will be a matter of which teams can make shots and create, and I think we have the advantage there…..I still don’t trust JR Smith in any sort of big spot…would like to see shump get minutes in spite of him, honestly….shump is starting to finally resemble his old self from mid-season last year….will be a war but I think Knicks prevail….the whole fitting STAT in could be a quagmire, though…would have liked to see Prigioni more in q4 tonight but apparently Woodson has no faith in him in a big spot for whatever reason…

  13. JPC's Wifey

    ruruland: Seriously, how does someone like Cavan not get paid to do this full-time when guys like Mitch Lawrence make 6 figures?

    Seriously ruruland, thank you! I often ask the same question. This one topped the charts honey. You know how much I hate war stories, but you kept me on the edge of my seat when the heads of Pierce and Garnett resurrected. I kind of knew how it would end though. My poor, old Celtic legends.
    I’m psyched for you Knickerbockers though… Onward to the second battle!!!!

  14. johnno

    After watching Shumpert last night, how pissed off would you be at Rose if you were a Bulls fan? Nate Robinson is puking on the bench, Noah is dragging his leg up and down the court, Deng is in the hospital getting a spinal tap and tweeting that he will play if the doctors let him, all on the same day that Rose says that he doesn’t want to play because his “muscle memory” isn’t where he wants it to be. Wow. Imagine how the fans and media would react if it were LeBron or Melo were spouting such nonsense.

  15. Jim Cavan Post author

    Thanks for the kind words, y’all. Glad you liked it. And congrats to everyone. Cathartic doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  16. carl

    Best article I have ever read about the Knicks. You are by far and away the best sports-writer, period. Unfortunately, the editors of the sports sections don’t want wit, intelligence and insight. Come to think of it, that applies to the rest of the sections in the newspapers and TV.Good thing we have the internet. It took me half the article to figure out who Earl was-I was thinking of the Pearl. Now let’s get the Pacers.

  17. GHenman

    great recap Cavan! Knickerblogger has replaced the NY tabloids for me. There is a big difference between almost collapsing and collapsing. I think Shumpert is our x-factor. If he can continue to play like this, he could be the player that gets us over the hump.

  18. lavor postell

    johnno:
    After watching Shumpert last night, how pissed off would you be at Rose if you were a Bulls fan?Nate Robinson is puking on the bench, Noah is dragging his leg up and down the court, Deng is in the hospital getting a spinal tap and tweeting that he will play if the doctors let him, all on the same day that Rose says that he doesn’t want to play because his “muscle memory” isn’t where he wants it to be.Wow.Imagine how the fans and media would react if it were LeBron or Melo were spouting such nonsense.

    Exactly. Rose really needs to keep his mouth shut right now. Look if he’s not going to play in the playoffs people would probably rather here that versus things about only God knowing or that he’s not mentally ready yet. Anybody that thinks Rose shouldn’t feel any obligation to come back should probably just be forced to watch Shumpert’s highlights from last night’s game on repeat.

  19. mokers

    Great post Jim.

    I would like to think that there was a lot of other things that the Knicks had to battle yesterday that we couldn’t see. Woodson let that run go way too long before putting in Shump, who was the best player in the gym the whole night. I like to think Woodson kept them in there because knowing what that pressure is like and getting through it will help them as they move on, but wow.

    Really glad the knicks have home court against the pacers.

  20. d-mar

    I got chills reading that recap. Brilliant stuff Jim.

    (Can’t wait to see what you come up with when we beat the Heat!) (-:

  21. Z-man

    I concur, Jim. Those green bastards were like ghouls that just wouldn’t freakin’ die.

  22. lavor postell

    mokers:
    Great post Jim.

    I would like to think that there was a lot of other things that the Knicks had to battle yesterday that we couldn’t see. Woodson let that run go way too long before putting in Shump, who was the best player in the gym the whole night. I like to think Woodson kept them in there because knowing what that pressure is like and getting through it will help them as they move on, but wow.

    Really glad the knicks have home court against the pacers.

    You know it’s frustrating because there are times when Woodson demonstrates tactical acumen and an ability to come up with creative half court sets that maximize our shooting ability and free Melo up with space to operate in his comfort zones. Then we’ll go through obscenely long stretches where we simply hope Melo and/or JR can get hot and carry us with unsustainably hot iso shooting.

    I’d be shocked if Pierce or Garnett is still on the roster come training camp next year. Both of those guys still have immense trade value and I’m sure there will be contenders who would be interested, particularly in Garnett.

  23. DCrockett17

    I don’t fear Indiana one bit. Indy is more efficient defensively but that’s about it. As you can see below, Indy has to WAY out-shoot to win b/c they’re so turnover prone.

    Gm 1, Nov 18 (W, 88-76): RBs: 48-47 NY; TOs: 19-8 NY; eFG: .451 – . 406 NY

    Gm 2, Jan 10* (L, 81-76) : RBs: 51-48 NY; TOs: 12-10 NY; eFG: .424 – .371 IN .

    Gm 3, Feb 20 (L, 125-91): RBs: 54-39 IN; TOs: 21-15 NY; eFG: .601 – .366 IN

    Gm 4, Apr 14 (W, 90-80): RBs: 45-32 IN; TOs: 26-11 NY; eFG: .494 – .492 NY
    *Melo DNP; we started Kidd, Brewer, Copeland, Camby and Chandler

    Indy is slightly MORE turnover-prone than Boston if you can believe it. So, they’re going to give it away around 20 times a night. They have to outshoot a lot of empty possessions. Add to that, Indy has seen as much of bottom of the roster (e.g., Solomon Jones, Ronnie Brewer, and James White) as they have of Iman Shumpert.

  24. d-mar

    lavor postell: You know it’s frustrating because there are times when Woodson demonstrates tactical acumen and an ability to come up with creative half court sets that maximize our shooting ability and free Melo up with space to operate in his comfort zones.Then we’ll go through obscenely long stretches where we simply hope Melo and/or JR can get hot and carry us with unsustainably hot iso shooting.

    I’d be shocked if Pierce or Garnett is still on the roster come training camp next year.Both of those guys still have immense trade value and I’m sure there will be contenders who would be interested, particularly in Garnett.

    Not so sure about Pierce’s trade value, I think his stock took a big hit this series. He looked old and his shot looked broken for most of the series. Garnett may have a good year or two left to help a contender.

  25. mokers

    The fear of Indiana for me is that Woody doesn’t have a plan outside of Melo taking a beating from West every night. I think we can handle him, but if Carmelo isn’t running well against the Heat, we don’t have much of a chance. This really could be the series where even 10 or 15 minutes of STAT would be helpful and Woodson did play a few minutes of Martin and Chandler together so perhaps there is hope.

    I think Melo’s shooting will come back, but they have to get him more open looks from 3. I really like the way Shump is coming on, but again, Woodson has to realize what he has going on. If JR doesn’t have or Felton starts to take bad shots, bring in Shump or prigs to get things right.

    I still give the Knicks a puncher’s chance, but they’ll need Brookly or Chicago to give the heat some trouble in order to have a chance.

  26. Tony Pena

    I gotta say, those 5? straight isolation sets were ballsy, but in some ways the worst stretch of the series. Add in one simple screen, and whaddaya know, some space and a good shot. Just a hair bit more creativity.

  27. ptmilo

    If this literary execution of all previous attempts at the art of game blurberry is available free of charge, capitalism is slightly broken. But safeguard your gift. If Dave Berri were to learn that a single swipe at Game of Thrones fan fiction could forever change the way people viewed a basketball game, you might see some lunch-expunging misuse of multivariate regression with a Middle Earth twang coming to a newspaper near you, forthwith.

  28. Tony Pena

    By the way, ‘Hubert Davis’, Melo said in post game interview that they figured that Celtics would assume that Melo would try to come out guns blazing, so they tried using Melo as a decoy in the beginning and “see where he fit in the rest of the game”. So the guys are thinking huh!

  29. ephus

    That is one awesome recap.

    The Knicks defense through the first three quarters was the best I have seen. Helping the helper of the helper. Switches went like clockwork. Felton bodied up Pierce in the post. Double teams came late in the shot clock and with larceny in mind. At least three times when the Celtics thought they had an advantage in the post after a switch/double, someone peeled off to steal the entry pass.

    48 minutes of d like that beats Indiana every night and Miami on most nights.

    This is a great time to be a Knick fan!

  30. Clyde_10

    Truly inspiring recap. I have enjoyed your skills all season. I totally agree with the poster who reference Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series. Perhaps Carmelo is our Roland and the Larry O’Brien is the Dark Tower. One can only hope!

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