By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Celtics | TD Bank Garden
When: Sunday | 1:00 PM
Where to Watch: ABC
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
Knicksnow Live In-Game Chat
New York: The Knicks spoke at length before Game Three about the challenges of playing on the road in a hostile environment. They understood the importance of taking Boston's initial punch and staying composed. While the Celtics were unable to land a haymaker, the Knicks were unfazed by a rowdy TD Garden and played their best game of the series to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
They shot 50% from the floor and 40% from 3, thanks to an all-around effort on defense that led to some great opportunities in transition. Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert terrorized the Celtics -- who have yet to find a solution for a shortage of ballhandlers -- with eight steals between them. Raymond Felton was also fantastic, with 15 points, 10 assists and two steals of his own. As the game was getting out of hand, J.R Smith got called for a flagrant foul for elbowing Jason Terry in the face, so he will be suspended for Game Four.
Boston: Facing a sweep, the punchless Celtics are playing for pride at this point. After taking leads into halftime in the first two games of the series, their offense fell flat early, rather than late, on Friday night. Doc Rivers suggested that they may have lost their spirit, and that Kevin Garnett is probably getting frustrated that his teammates are incapable of playing at his level right now.
The Numbers Game
The last time the Knicks swept a best-of-seven series was against Atlanta in the 1999 East semis.
Matchup to Watch
Pablo Prigioni vs. Jason Terry
Whereas Terry was unable to rise to the challenge in his first start in the series (he finished with a team-worst -12 rating on the night), Prigioni got the Knicks off to a hot start with three 3-pointers and continued to apply the pressure the rest of the way on his way to a team-best +13 rating. Prigioni was sensational in Game Three, only his second game back from a sprained ankle. His full-court pressure is a nightmare for the Celtics, and any shooting he can provide only adds to the effectiveness of their spread pick-and-roll offense.
What to Look For
Without Smith, the Knicks will have to find scoring punch elsewhere. With the way Boston is shooting the ball, that might not be such an issue. Expect to see Felton continue to be aggressive with the ball and Carmelo Anthony to assert himself from the opening tip. As the two sat at the podium together following Game Three, they made it clear they have no interest in playing a Game Five.