Rapid Reaction: Knicks 85, C's 78 (Game 1)
THE NITTY GRITTY
Carmelo Anthony ended on the upswing during a roller-coaster night, scoring 36 points on 13-of-29 shooting to go along with six rebounds and four steals over 41 minutes. J.R. Smith added 15 points on 7-of-19 shooting, while Kenyon Martin had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks. Jeff Green scored a team-high 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting for the Celtics but disappeared a bit in the second half (1-of-5 shooting, 6 points). Paul Pierce added 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds over 39:11 but couldn't shoulder the scoring burden by himself in a second half in which the Celtics scored just 25 points (eight in the fourth quarter) on 7-of-27 shooting (25.9 percent).
In a two-point game midway through the fourth quarter, Kevin Garnett (8 points, 9 rebounds over 36:36) picked up his fifth foul trying to prevent a Smith layup. Despite playing the next three minutes without him, Boston had multiple chances to tie the game. Instead, a bad pass by Pierce led to an Anthony layup that had New York out front 81-76 with 2:31 to go. After a turnover and a Jason Terry missed 3-pointer, Anthony made a 21-foot jumper to push the lead to seven with 81 ticks to go and essentially seal the victory.
AN UGLY THIRD
The Celtics and Knicks combined for 10-of-35 shooting (28.6 percent) in the third quarter. Boston missed its first four shots and turned the ball over twice. Its bench, which doesn't sit until the first field goal by the team, couldn't hit the chairs until Bradley's layup with 8:24 to play in the frame (and there was a timeout before that). The Celtics had a little burst later in the frame, opening as much as a seven-point lead, but the Knicks got it down to a one-possession game heading to the final quarter and pulled away when Boston's offense went from cold to icy.
MORE REGULAR-SEASON JET
Terry pledged to ramp up his game in the postseason, suggesting he would wipe away six months of struggles by being the big-game player that was his calling card in Dallas. Terry missed all five shots he put up Saturday -- including four beyond the arc -- and was scoreless in 20 minutes. With Boston leaning on guard-heavy lineups (neither Chris Wilcox nor Shavlik Randolph played), the contributions from reserve guards was a major disappointment. Boston's bench -- Terry, Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford -- combined for four points (all free throws by Lee) and missed all seven shots it took.
WHAT IT MEANS
This will be a tough one for the Celtics to swallow. At times they played some excellent basketball, getting a monster first half from Green and leaning on their defense when their offense went stagnant. But the Celtics got sloppy with the ball (21 turnovers for 20 points), and no one beyond Pierce could make shots at key times in the second half. The offense was a major concern coming into the playoffs, and Boston absolutely cannot endure the sort of lulls it did in the second half Sunday. There are two days off before Game 2 on Tuesday night at MSG. The series shifts to Boston for Games 3 (Friday) and 4 (Sunday).
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