Hadfield: Just who, exactly, is leading this Celtics-Knicks series?

No one is quite sure, as of today, if Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony has the upper hand in this series. (Getty Images)
No one is quite sure, as of today, if Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony has the upper hand in this series. (Getty Images)

I have a question I need your help with, dear reader: As it stands today, Thursday, May 2, 2013, are the Celtics leading their first round series against the Knicks? It’s a fair question, actually.

Technically speaking, ESPN, Yahoo, NBA.com and other national outlets have the Knicks currently ahead in the matchup, with a three games to two advantage, as the two teams reunite for what should be a spirited atmosphere in Boston for Game 6 Friday night. But at the conclusion of the Celtics grit-and-grind win in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, the collective reaction has largely dismissed New York’s upper hand, mostly citing the Knicks’ remarks about funerals that never happened and premature golfing trips prior to Game 5 coming back to haunt them.

“I don’t know what everyone’s talking about, getting comfortable and feeling good,” Kevin Garnett said following Boston’s Game 5 victory. “We’re down 3-2. It’s not like we evened it up and we’re going back home. No, we’re down 3-2, so I don’t know what being comfortable is about.”

Confidence is a funny characteristic. You have it then, rather suddenly, almost on a whim, you don’t. Since losing back-to-back games, we’ve arbitrarily decided the Knicks, are without confidence. Meanwhile, we’ve also retroactively confirmed that the Men In Green never wavered in their confidence.

“We’re not getting over-excited, that’s the thing,” Paul Pierce added. “When we lost our games we didn’t get too down and now when we won a couple we’re not getting over-excited. You’ve just got to maintain a certain calm.”

Before we dig any further, I have another question: Do we think there’s something to the Confidence Conundrum? Like its cousin, Momentum, and its crazy uncle, Clutchness, there can be no tangible value placed on Confidence. We debate body language, aggressively read into quotes, and try to pinpoint who, exactly, has The Look and who’s reacting to playoff adversity like Ray Liotta in the last 25 minutes of GoodFellas.

“Momentum means nothing right now,” Jason Terry explained. “This is all about grit and grind. One possession, one quarter at a time and see what happens. We have nothing to lose.”

From Boston’s standpoint, there’s a comfort zone with this particular predicament, not because they’ve been here before, but because they’ve been here, with their backs up against the wall, for a week. The Knicks mindset has undoubtedly morphed over the past day, while the Celtics shifted gears, living on the edge since last Friday night.

If we’ve learned anything, it’s not about the last 245 minutes; just the next 48.

Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__


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