The Knicks are one step closer to finally getting out of the first round of the NBA playoffs.
At the same time, New York most likely ended the current batch of Celtics’ reign, as they dominated in a 90-76 win in Game 3.
Led by Carmelo Anthony’s game-high 26 points, the Knicks took a commanding 3-0 series lead and have put the Celtics’ season on life support. But bigger than Anthony’s scoring was the fact that the Knicks’ defense held the Celtics below 80 points for the third consecutive game.
The Knicks sat every starter but Pablo Prigioni by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, with New York up 68-52. Prigioni enjoyed a breakout game as he tallied all nine of his points in the first half – all on 3-pointers.
Boston was led by Jeff Green’s 21 points, but they didn’t matter much because the home team was overmatched essentially from the opening tip. Paul Pierce added 17 points, while Kevin Garnett had 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds in a losing effort.
Anthony began Game 3 shooting just 2-of-7, continuing his trend of starting slowly, but he rebounded nicely to finish 12-of-25 from the field. He was also aided by point guard Raymond Felton, who enjoyed a career night with 15 points and a career playoff-high 10 assists.
The Knicks’ win was huge in many aspects, as they’re not only one game away from an unthinkable sweep, but they also earned their first road playoff win in 12 years and their first playoff win in Boston in 23 years. One more victory and they’ll have the chance to rest and wait for a likely second-round matchup with the Pacers.
What we saw ...
1. He actually shot and scored
Prigioni wasn’t the best player on the floor, but he was maybe the coolest. It is Prigioni’s first venture into the fierce NBA playoffs, but the 35-year-old rookie never wavered – not as the Celtics tried to get the partisan crowd in a frenzy at the start of the game, and not even as the Celtics tried to pressure the Knicks guards early to get them out of rhythm. Prigioni only had nine points, but the fact that the often-reticent shooter squeezed off six shots is newsworthy. Larger than that impact, though, was his calming influence on offense as the lead guard and his game-high five steals on defense set the tone.
2. Lived by the 3
The Knicks started hot from behind the arc (4-of-8 in the first quarter) and stayed that way for most of the game (11-of-27) to keep the Celtics on their heels. New York, which set an NBA regular-season record for most 3-point attempts in a season, was led by Prigioni’s three triples. Boston, conversely, is not known for their long-range efficiency and it was painfully obvious they couldn’t keep pace. They shot only 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) on 3-pointers.
3. Bench Mobbed
The Knicks didn’t need much scoring because the Celtics couldn’t find the bucket either, but their bench did enjoy some success. New York’s reserves held a 30-10 advantage over their Boston counterparts. J.R. Smith, who was ejected for throwing an elbow at the head of Jason Terry late in the fourth quarter, led all subs with 15 points. Steve Novak added eight points on 2-of-3 shooting on 3-pointers, but even that output would’ve led all Boston reserves.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.