The Celtics knocked off the New York Knicks 101-89 at Madison Square Garden on Easter Sunday, becoming the first team of 2011 to advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett played phenomenal, leading the Celtics to victory with individual double-doubles. Rondo finished with 21 points and 12 assists, while Garnett scored 26 to go along with his 10 rebounds.
Boston’s defense came out stellar, and baffled and bruised the Knicks by holding them to just 38 points in the first half. The Knicks once again seemed completely overwhelmed by Boston’s playoff mentality and physical defense, and played without motivation for much of the game once the Celtics had taken an early lead.
The C’s were up by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, and appeared virtually unstoppable on offense with stellar playmaking from Rondo, and countless post-up scoring plays from nearly every member of the team. They were fiercely and consistently taking advantage of one-on-one opportunities in the post against the weak Knicks’ defenders.
However, complacency became the theme of the second half, and the Celtics let the Knicks back into the game with frequent turnovers and dismal defense from their second unit. As a result, New York’s players and fans alike finally showed some signs of life, and they put up 34 in the third quarter and soon closed the gap to just 4 points with seven minutes left in the game.
The comeback was fueled by Amare Stoudemire, who started for New York despite his back injury, and 35 year old backup point guard Anthony Carter. Coach Doc Rivers became furious with the Celtics, and called a timeout during which he paced around the court and did not say a word to his team. The Knicks’ comeback was ultimately squashed once Doc restored his starting lineup to the floor in the final quarter.
Stoudemire missed his first nine shots, and finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds on just 5-19 shooting, while Carmelo Anthony finished with 32 points and 9 rebounds. New York’s two stars were not enough to handle Boston’s Big Four and team mentality, and the Celtics showed what makes them the better basketball team. With the sweep, they will rest up the next week or so in preparation to take their talents to South Beach.