Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The Knicks are in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, and their stay could be just as short.
The Nets swept the Knicks in four games that year, and the Celtics are on the brink of breaking out the brooms again this year.
New York is in an 0-3 hole entering Game 4 Sunday at Madison Square Garden, but Carmelo Anthony would like to push the series to a Game 5 Tuesday in Boston.
“The most important thing is just how much pride we got,” Anthony said Saturday after practice. “I don’t want to get swept. We don’t want to get swept so we gotta go out there and leave it all out there on the court, see what happens.
“Every play, every hustle play, if we gotta foul somebody, if we gotta knock somebody out, we just gotta do whatever we gotta do to prevent a sweep.”
The Knicks will likely be without Chauncey Billups for the third straight game because of the injury to his left knee, though president Donnie Walsh sounds like he would like to bring Billups back next season. The team holds a $14 million option on the 34-year-old guard.
Amar’e Stoudemire said he felt “a little bit worse” a day after managing just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting in Game 3, and indicated he wouldn’t play if his stiff, sore back doesn’t improve after treatment Saturday and Sunday.
“The back is extremely painful right now, but it’s tough to say I just can’t go,” he said Saturday. “It’s the postseason. We have a lot at stake here. We’re trying to get a win tomorrow. But if I can’t go I’m pretty sure my teammates will continue to play hard hopefully and try to get a win.”
Stoudemire didn’t quite concede the series, but he came close.
“It will be great to win a game but due to the situation right now, a couple guys are injured, it’s going to be tough,” he said.
After announcing last summer that “The Knicks are back,” Stoudemire now sounds as if he realizes his first season with the team is coming to a rapid close.
He sounds like he’s looking forward to next season and beyond.
“That’s what you have to build on is the winning mentality, knowing that the franchise is now a winning franchise and we’re looking to build,” he said.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh echoed those sentiments.
“I think we’ve got try to do the best we can [Sunday] and go after the game and see if we can bring it back to Boston,” Walsh said. “But our future’s gonna be pretty good. And that’s the only thing I can say right now. And I’m not using that as an excuse or anything else.
“I think it was good for us to get in the playoffs. We see what we need to have and what we don’t have, and we have to get work to make sure we have it.’
Still, there is the matter of Game 4, and Anthony understands he may have to drop 40 or 50 points in order for his team to have a chance.
After pouring in 42 points and grabbing 17 boards in Game 2, he managed just 15 points on 4 of 16 shooting in Game 3’s 113-96 loss, a performance that inspired boos from the fans.
“I’m not thinking about the boos, man,” he said. “It doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t affect us.”
Instead of playing alongside Stoudemire and Billups, Anthony now finds himself teaming up with second-unit players like Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Roger Mason and Jared Jeffries.
“I mean, it’s about us, man,” he said. “I would love to sit and say it’s about me, I can do it by myself.
“But it’s about us. We gotta go out there and fight. We gotta leave it out there on the court [Sunday].”
Anthony has been swept before with the Nuggets — and he didn’t like it.
“It’s a sad feeling,” he said. “And I definitely don’t want to experience that anymore.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.