The New York Knicks defeated a beleaguered Boston Celtics team on its home floor on Friday night to take a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. After two stellar efforts in Games 1 and 2 at home, the Knicks continued the trend in Beantown last night. The Celtics were flat all game after an emotional run-up as the team played its first home game since the Boston bombings almost two weeks ago. The ineptitude was primarily on the offensive end as the Celts shot only 40% from the field and turned the ball over 18 times. The 18 turnovers led to 26 Knicks points.
Once again, the defense of both teams was relatively good as the combination of Jeff Green and Brandon Bass made Carmelo Anthony take some tough shots. Despite the tough defense, Anthony still managed 26 points, making some clutch buckets in the second half to maintain the Knicks lead. On the other side, Paul Pierce was held to 17 points on a measly 6 of 15 from the field. Keep in mind, this is a guy who has killed the Knicks over the years and has given this club a ton of heartbreak both in the regular season and in the playoffs. Perhaps the only bright spot for Boston in this game was Kevin Garnett, as he registered a double-double with 12 points and an impressive 17 rebounds.
With the Knicks up 16 at the break and the energy at TD Bank Garden nearly zapped, many felt that the Knicks had already won, including the Celtics players. It was shocking to see the lack of heart from a group of veterans that know what it takes to win playoff games. With little resistance, the Knicks won handily in the end by a score of 90-76.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Knicks guard JR Smith was assessed a flagrant-two foul for elbowing Celtics guard Jason Terry across the face. Smith was ejected and could possibly face a suspension for Sunday’s Game 4. However, the Knicks may not even need Smith when all is said and done. This Boston team is not one that has shown it can deal with adversity, whether that be in-game poor play or dealing with a string of bad games.
The Celtics now find themselves in a position in which no NBA team has ever clawed back from. In NBA history, teams down 0-3 in a playoff series have a record of 0-103. Not a good sign for a team that already looked defeated even when victory was still within reach. But a very good sign for a Knicks team that has played solid throughout and is on a role. Look for the Knicks to win the series in no more than five games and meet up with the Pacers in round two.