Knicks win first series since 2000
by Sean Highkin, USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks have advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. The Boston Celtics, who were down 3-0 in the series before winning the last two games, nearly overcame another incredible deficit, but the Knicks ultimately won 88-80.
Trailing by 26 in the third quarter, Boston went on a 20-0 run, but it wasn’t enough to make up for three quarters of poor shooting. Through the first three quarters, Boston shot 31.9% from the field as a team, totaling only 47 points entering the final period.
Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points, but the Knicks’ offense was carried by its guards. Iman Shumpert played a key role at both ends of the floor, scoring 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and playing lockdown defense on Paul Pierce. Pablo Prigioni scored 14 points, and Raymond Felton added 10.
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BOX SCORE: Knicks 88, Celtics 80
The Celtics’ fourth-quarter run was keyed by Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, with Bradley making several key defensive plays leading to fast-break baskets. Boston cut the deficit to four points with three minutes remaining, but a three-pointer by Anthony with 1:32 on the clock effectively ended Boston’s run and season.
This game marks the first first-round exit for the Celtics since Kevin Garnett joined the team in 2007. It may also be the last stand of Boston’s big three. Pierce has a $5 million buyout for the final year of his contract, and the 37-year-old Garnett may opt for retirement if the Celtics go into rebuilding mode.
The Knicks advance to the second round and will play the Indiana Pacers, who eliminated the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. The series begins in New York on Sunday.