Woodson: 'Big-time urgency' in Game 5
April, 30, 2013
By Ian Begley and Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Mike Woodson and the Knicks don't want to go back to Boston.
Both the coach and his players are urgent to close out their first-round series with the Celtics in Game 5 at home on Wednesday.
"It's big-time urgency on our part. We played the regular season for this," Woodson said after Tuesday's practice. "It should be a nice, loud gym in our favor and I'm expecting our guys to step up and play."
The Knicks had an opportunity to close out the series on Sunday, but lost in overtime to the Celtics.
They did not have J.R. Smith in Game 4 due to a suspension. Smith will be back in Game 5. And the Knicks will be back at the Garden, where they went 31-10 in the regular season, the best record in the Eastern Conference.
They are 2-0 at home in the playoffs. New York beat the Celtics by an average of 11.5 points in the first two games at the Garden and held them to 48 second-half points in two games.
"I feel good about playing in front of our fans and these guys do, too," Woodson said. "It's going to be a loud arena tomorrow night and I'm hoping we can get everything finished off so we can get ready for Round 2."
WHAT'S NEXT FOR STAT? The Knicks and a source close to Amar'e Stoudemire believe the power forward will return to action in the second round, if the Knicks beat Boston. He's recovering from right knee debridement done in early March.
Stoudemire was present at Tuesday's practice, going through some drills with his teammates. Afterward, he worked on his post-ups with assistant coach LaSalle Thompson, who guarded him and applied physical contact. Stoudemire's moves were aggressive and somewhat quick, and after shooting free throws, he ran up and down full court a few times.
While Stoudemire looked fluid on the court, he'll have to adjust to 5-on-5 scrimmages, while getting his wind up. His conditioning is still not there yet.
ANOTHER RAY DAY? Yes, Smith and his 18.1 points per game are returning for Game 5, but Raymond Felton can't take his foot off the gas. His series averages of 17.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals have given the Knicks a different, effective dimension beyond Smith's and Anthony's scoring.
"He has been huge," Kenyon Martin said Tuesday. "He is keeping Avery Bradley and [Jason] Terry and those guys honest so they can't load up on Melo or J.R. I think [Felton's] aggression will open up the floor that much more."
How huge has Felton been? When he has been on the bench during the series, the Knicks have a negative-22.1 plus-minus, but a plus-13.6 when he's playing. Anthony said he hasn't been surprised by Felton's progression. He credited the point guard's play on Sunday for helping the team force overtime.
"He spearheaded that whole comeback in Game 4, making shots, putting the pressure on them," Melo said. "In the second half, we only had two, three [turnovers], and we got back to playing the way we know how to play. ... He's been our guy. He's been making great decisions for himself and everybody else. He's stepped up this playoffs."
COPE-ING WITHOUT: Some of the Knicks were surprised that Chris Copeland didn't play Sunday, despite Smith's absence.
"I just decided to go with [Steve] Novak, and it's tough right now to play him and Novak together," Copeland said. "If I find a spot in between somewhere where I can throw Chris in there, I'll do that. The fact we're up 3-1 right now, I like our position and where we are, and he might have to sit and wait. I don't know."