Thursday , Apr , 22 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

New York needs a win

New York, NY (Sports Network) – The New York Knicks will try and avoid
falling into a 3-0 hole in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series
tonight, as they welcome the New Jersey Nets to Madison Square Garden.

This is a best-of-seven series, with Game 4 scheduled for Sunday at MSG.

Tonight’s contest is the first NBA playoff game at Madison Square Garden since
the Knicks lost to the Toronto Raptors on May 4, 2001 in Game 5 of the first
round of the postseason.

The Nets dominated at Continental Airlines Arena in the first two games of the
series. New Jersey crushed the Knicks, 107-83, in Game 1, and pounded New
York, 99-81, in Game 2.

In Game 2, Kenyon Martin scored 22 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, as the
Nets rolled over New York on Tuesday at the Meadowlands. Richard Jefferson
netted 20 points and Jason Kidd contributed 15 points, six boards and eight
assists in the win for New Jersey.

Kerry Kittles had 16 points and Rodney Rogers added 12 in Tuesday’s victory
for the Nets, who have won 12 consecutive playoff contests versus Eastern
Conference opponents.

Stephon Marbury paced New York in Game 2 with 23 points, while Kurt Thomas
chipped in 18 points and 12 rebounds. Anfernee Hardaway collected 13 points
and 10 assists in the loss.

The Nets have four players averaging double-figures in scoring through the
first two contests, as Jefferson has averaged 20.5 points per game, Martin has
netted 19 per game, Kittles checks in at 18 per contest and Kidd is averaging
14.5 points.

Kidd has also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 10.5 assists in the first two games,
while Martin leads the Nets with 14 boards per game.

Marbury is the Knicks leading scorer at 18 points per game in the postseason,
while Thomas has been New York’s top rebounder at 9.5 boards per night.

On the injury front, New York forward Tim Thomas is expected to miss his
second game in a row with a back injury. Thomas was hurt in Game 1 after the
Nets’ Jason Collins committed a flagrant foul on him.

The Knicks have won eight of their last 10 Game 3s in the postseason, while
the Nets are 5-5 in their last 10 Game 3’s.

New York, which has never won a seven-game playoff series after losing the
first two contests, has come back win a best-of-five series after dropping the
first two games. In 1990, New York fought back from a 2-0 deficit to eliminate
the Boston Celtics, 3-2, in the first round of the postseason.

The Nets have never lost a playoff series after they were victorious in the
first two games of a series.

These two teams have met up twice before in the postseason with New York
walking away with a pair of first round victories. The last time the two
hooked up in the postseason was in 1994 when they Knicks ousted the Nets in
four games in their first step towards an Eastern Conference title.