Madison Square Garden: The X-Factor

I spent the majority of my weekend jumping head first into the New York sports scene. For a kid living in Savannah, GA, these opportunities are few and far between, so I tend to relish them.

Everything started late Saturday afternoon, when my beloved Mets took Game 2 from the Phillies in Philly, and won their first road series against those bums for the first time since 2010 (Yes, shut up, I know its April. But I take my victories when I can. So back off!). This year, the Mets are quickly turning into a really fun team to watch. It’s always awesome entering a season with no expectations and soaking in when the team does well. Such a relief. Anyway…

After that, the puck dropped for Game 2 of the Rangers/Senators series at The Garden. As someone who has grown to love the New York Rangers over the last few years, I can say without hesitation that there is no sports environment more exciting and thrilling than Rangers fans, at home, in the playoffs.

For starters, in my opinion, there is no sport better than professional hockey to watch live. In my life, I have seen about 250 Mets games (seriously), 10 Knicks games, 4 Giants/Jets games, 2 Rangers games and 1 Canadiens/Senators game in Montreal (I was in Montreal, felt like the right thing to do). If you take an average game of the three sports, as in no thrilling finish, just your lock, stock and barrel victory for the home team, no game is more exciting from beginning to end then a hockey game.

That, and the Blueshirts faithful are nuts. They’re emotionally involved in the game from pre-game warm-ups until the final horn. Its incredible.

OK, where am I going with this, I know you’re asking. Even though the Rangers dropped a tightly contested Game 2 to the Senators (still pissed), that momentum from the night before at Madison Square Garden carried over to Knicks/Heat.

And that was huge. I’ve said it before, there is no arena in sports that serves a bigger home-court advantage than a lively Madison Square Garden. Did the Knicks eventually fall to the Heat? Yes. But, that wasn’t because the Heat really outplayed the Knicks. In fact, it was pretty amazing the game was so close considering Carmelo Anthony (42) and J.R. Smith (16) were the only players in double figures.

After a strong first quarter, the Heat looked rattled throughout the rest of the game. I’ll admit, I was unable to watch the final minutes. I had to walk away to do some things before heading to work while the score was 75-73 Knicks. But, from what I saw, with that crowd, if the Knicks were able to take just one game in Miami should these teams meet in the playoffs, I think they could take the series.

It comes off as cliche and tacky, but in New York, us, we, the fans, we make such a huge difference. We bring The Garden to life, giving it a heart beat and cranking up the atmosphere to unbelievable levels. Madison Square Garden becomes the X-Factor, particularly against the Heat, considering of all the concerns surrounding them when the pressure is on.

Sure, the Knicks lost. But, if fans aren’t considerably more upbeat with the outlook of facing the Heat in the playoffs after Sunday’s game, they need to reconsider.

The Garden could haunt the Heat in a Game Six environment.

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Tags: Carmelo Anthony J.R. Smith Miami Heat New York Knicks

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