The last time the New York Knicks won a playoff series, Carmelo Anthony was a sophomore in high school. And tonight, with the help of Anthony, the New York Knicks have advanced to the second round of the playoffs with an 88-80 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Now, if you didn’t watch the game, an 88-80 final score would seem fine but going into the fourth quarter of this game, the score was 75-49 Knicks. That’s right, the Celtics outscored the Knicks 31-20 in the final quarter and nearly stole this game from them.
Coming into the game, people kept bringing up the 2004 American League Championship Series, when the New York Yankees had a 3-0 series lead and ended up losing the series to the Boston Red Sox. It was the city’s rallying cry. If the Red Sox could do it, so could the aging Boston Celtics, right?
The Knicks had a 3-0 series lead heading into Game 4 in Boston. They lost that game which they weren’t too upset about because it was thought that they could clinch the series at home but when that didn’t happen, the 2004 talk started. Then tonight, after leading by 26, they were in the midst of a fourth quarter collapse of epic proportions on the TD Garden court in Boston of all places.
While Knicks fans were reaching for drinks, cigarettes and anything else that would help to calm their nerves, Celtics fans had some hope that their team was going to make something historic happen but it didn’t.
Luckily for the Knicks and their fans, Anthony hit a clutch jumper to give the Knicks an 81-75 lead and then hit a 3-pointer. That was followed by a three-point play from J.R. Smith and the Knicks were on their way to the second round.
Anthony finished with 21 points, Smith with 13 and Iman Shumpert scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to help the Knicks capture their first playoff series victory since reaching the 2000 Eastern Conference finals. Just to give you an idea of how long ago that was, Patrick Ewing and Latrell Sprewell were on the team.
As for the Celtics, Paul Pierce finished with 14 points on 4-18 shooting, including 1-9 from the three. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 21 points and Kevin Garnett finished with 15.
The big question this offseason for the Celtics is whether to keep the core of the team together, namely Pierce and Garnett, or to break them up. That group helped Boston win their last title in 2008 and earned a trip to the finals in 2010 where they ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Next up for the Knicks, the Indiana Pacers. That series starts on Sunday.