NBA Playoffs 2011: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks Game-by-Game Predictions
In Back to the Future II, Marty McFly and his arch-nemesis, Biff Tannen, fight over a copy of Grays Sports Almanac, which contains the results of every major sporting event through the end of the 20th century. The almanac's owner, hypothetically, could become an instant millionaire.
Lucky for you, I now have that almanac and know the results of the Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks playoff series that will start Sunday. So read the Associated Press reports for each game, head down to Vegas and bet $1,000,000 each time the two teams play.
Game 1: Celtics 115, Knicks 104
BOSTON, MA (April 17): Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined for 62 points and 24 rebounds as the Celtics held off a late fourth-quarter charge to defeat the Knicks, 115-104 at the TD Garden on Sunday night.
Pierce scored 15 of a game-high 35 in the third quarter, turning a two-point halftime deficit into a 10-point Celtics lead entering the fourth quarter.
Carmelo Anthony equaled Pierce's point total with 35 of his own, but Amar'e Stoudemire was hounded by the litany of power forwards and centers Doc Rivers threw at him all night. Stoudemire finished with 21 points on just 7-of-21 shooting (7-of-10 from the line) to go along with seven rebounds.
Shaquille O'Neal started and played 20 minutes, clogging the paint and forcing the Knicks to play isolation offense frequently.
Toney Douglas led a Knicks charge in the fourth quarter, cutting the Celtics' lead to 104-100 following two straight three-pointers with 2:30 left. However, Rajon Rondo then initiated a fast break and found a streaking Paul Pierce, who made a layup as he was fouled by Shawne Williams. Pierce made the free throw to make it a three-possession game.
Rajon Rondo out-dueled Chauncey Billups, accruing 10 points and 12 assists.
Game 2: Celtics 88, Knicks 86
BOSTON, MA (April 19): Ray Allen hit the game-deciding three-pointer with five seconds remaining, and Carmelo Anthony forced up a rushed miss at the buzzer as the Celtics pulled out an 88-86 win to go up 2-0 in the best-of-seven first-round series.
With the C's down 86-85 with 30 seconds remaining, Rajon Rondo killed time off the clock before driving past Chauncey Billups and finding a wide-open Ray Allen on the wing, who drilled a three-pointer to give the Celtics their first lead since the second quarter.
Jared Jeffries then inbounded to Carmelo Anthony on the wing. Anthony took two dribbles but was immediately double teamed by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. A fallaway 18-footer hit the side of the rim as time expired.
The Knicks, who were blasted by the New York media after giving up 63 points on 60 percent shooting to Boston in their Game 1 loss, played excellent defense. Rotations and help defense were crisp all night, and Ronny Turiaf held Kevin Garnett to just 12 points and five rebounds.
However, Rajon Rondo led the Celtics' defensive charge with six steals, suffocating the Knicks offense. The Knicks committed 20 turnovers, many coming on bad passes following double teams.
Still, the Knicks led by 86-81 before a Paul Pierce jumper and two Kevin Garnett free throws tied the game.
Game 3: Knicks 105, Celtics 95
BOSTON, MA (April 22): Carmelo Anthony stressed his desire to come home to New York, where he was born in 1984, the same year that Bernard King averaged 42.6 PPG in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Tonight, Anthony did his best Bernard King impersonation, scoring 42 points on 15-of-21 shooting (20 in the fourth quarter) to go along with 10 rebounds as the Knicks rode the hot shooter to a 105-95 victory.
The Celtics hung around for most of the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 94-91 at one point after a Ray Allen three, but Carmelo Anthony responded with one of his own to put the Knicks back up six. The Celtics never came within four points after that basket.
With the Knicks up 104-95 and Chauncey Billups on the free-throw line with 10 seconds left, Anthony was substituted out and left to a raucous standing ovation that lasted over five minutes.
Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and even Kevin Garnett took turns guarding Melo, each to no avail.
Ray Allen led the Celtics with 26 points on an efficient 10-of-13 night, but his performance will forever be clouded.
Game 4: Celtics 111, Knicks 110 (Double Overtime)
BOSTON, MA (April 24): In an ending that eerily resembled the Lakers' Game 6 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, Glen Davis grabbed a rebound off a Ray Allen miss and put the ball back for a layup as time expired as the Celtics struck a dagger into the Knicks' dying playoff hopes, winning 111-110 on Easter Sunday.
The Celtics, despite losing Shaquille O'Neal in the fourth quarter to a hamstring injury and Kevin Garnett in overtime following his sixth foul, outrebounded New York 70-55 and outscored them 60-42 in the paint.
Davis eluded Amar'e Stoudemire and was able to tip the ball in as time expired. The exuberant Davis ran off the court with his teammates, needing just one win to close out the series.
Anthony went cold, scoring just 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting. He missed all seven of his three-point attempts and was hounded all night with double teams from the get-go.
Amar'e Stoudemire had his best playoff game thus far, scoring 35 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Rajon Rondo once again outplayed Chauncey Billups, going for a triple double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and an astonishing 17 assists.
At the end of regulation, the nominally clutch Pierce missed an 18-footer to seal the game. In overtime, Anthony's two free throws with five seconds left sent the game to a second overtime.
After a Toney Douglas three-pointer put the Knicks up by one point with 20 seconds left, sending the Garden crowd into hysteria, Ray Allen missed an 18-footer. But Davis was there for a tip, which went off the backboard and in for the win.
Game 5: Celtics 98, Knicks 91
BOSTON, MA (April 26): In a sloppy game that featured 40 turnovers, the Celtics used a raucous home crowd and momentum from Game 4 to win their first-round series, 98-91.
Paul Pierce once again acted as the Celtics' closer against the Knicks, scoring 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. His three-pointer with two minutes left put Boston up eight points, and the Knicks never cut the deficit to seven after that. Boston led wire-to-wire.
Kevin Garnett dominated the pain with 20 points and 10 boards in Shaq's absence, who was nursing a sore hamstring.
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire combined for 50 points, and Billups had his best game of the series with 18 points and 15 assists. But the rest of the Knicks were cold from the field, accruing only seven field goals.
The Celtics move on to face the Miami Heat, who also won their series in five against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Call me a jaded Knicks fan, but I see New York losing in five...unless Carmelo Anthony goes off twice. Then C's in six.
Three factors go against the Knicks:
1. Rajon Rondo vs. Chauncey Billups Matchup
Rondo has regressed since after the All-Star break, but Chauncey Billups is still not comfortable in the Knicks offense. That, and Billups is not 100 percent following two leg injuries.
2. Celtics Frontcourt vs. Amar'e Stoudemire
Stoudemire can face Kevin Garnett and beat him in a duel. I don't think he can beat Garnett, Glen Davis, Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Nenad Krstic by himself with just Ronny Turiaf on his side. Two on five is never fair.
3. Paul Pierce, Knick Killer
He crushed the Knicks this regular season. Why should he stop now? The Celtics can play great defense and have a closer to boot.
I hate being wrong, but I'd love to be wrong here.