KNICKS 85 CELTICS 78 GAME 1 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
The Celtics got exactly what they wanted.
With that said, the Knicks were simply a cut above their rival on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. New York pulled away late in the contest to topple Boston 85-78 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony led the home team with a game-high 36 points, including the dagger deep in the fourth quarter of action.
A back-and-forth game for three quarters eventually led to a pivotal final frame when the Knicks offense executed down the stretch. Raymond Felton hit a fading jumper to start the fourth quarter and Kenyon Martin completed a crucial old fashioned 3-point play to give New York a 72-70 lead at the 9:25 mark of the fourth period.
Four minutes later, J.R. Smith connected on an acrobatic layup in the paint while Kevin Garnett was whistled with his fifth foul. Anthony raced out on the fast break for an open court bucket and suddenly New York created some space with an 81-76 lead and only 2:31 remaining on the game clock.
As mentioned above, Anthony delivered a clutch bucket over Green by sinking an 18-footer in a straight jacket to extend the Knicks advantage to seven points.
New York sealed the deal when Anthony reacted to Boston’s double team at the top of the arc and he sent a bullet pass to Kenyon Martin for the layup.
Both teams shot around 40 percent from the floor but the Knicks managed to hit nine 3-pointers as opposed to five for the visiting team. The Celtics also committed 21 turnovers in the defeat.
Jeff Green finished with 26 points and was the offensive catalyst for Boston as he scored 20 of those points in the first half of action. The Celtics held a 59-43 lead at the break while New York only had two players in double figures.
Boston forced the Knicks into some isolation play early in the contest and the road team found success by sending cutters into the lane on the offensive side of the floor. However, the Celtics offense fizzled down the stretch as Paul Pierce only posted four of his 21 in the fourth quarter. Garnett registered just eight points in the loss. Boston was limited to 25 points in the second half, eight in the fourth quarter, and 25.9 percent shooting in the third and fourth periods.
New York had to adjust its starting lineup by placing Iman Shumpert at the shooting guard spot and highlighting Chris Copeland at small forward. Head coach Mike Woodson needed to make the change due to Pablo Prigioni’s absence (ankle injury).
Smith scored 15 points and grabbed five boards, Martin contributed 10 points and nine rebounds, and Felton dished out six assists.
Jason Kidd was an X-Factor on both sides of the floor. The veteran defended Pierce on several possessions in the late stages and he tallied three of the Knicks 15 steals in the win.
New York owns a 1-0 series lead with Game 2 set for Tuesday night.
Knick of the Night:
Anthony’s aggressive 13-point first quarter set the tone for the Knicks. He scored 36 and hauled down six boards. The All-Star worked on the defensive side of the floor with four steals as well.
The Celtics bench combined to score only four points.
The Knicks and Celtics return to MSG on Tuesday night for Game 2, which is scheduled for a 7 PM tipoff on MSG Networks. Both squads will have time to make adjustments during Sunday and Monday practice sessions.