HOW THE GAME WAS WON: With 11 seconds left and the Knicks leading, 85-84, Ray Allen came off a screen set by Kevin Garnett. Toney Douglas fell and Ronny Turiaf was late in helping, leaving Allen wide open for a left-corner 3-pointer that hit nothing but net, and gave the Celtics a two point lead. Carmelo Anthony had one last chance to win the game, but his 25-foot 3-pointer missed as time expired, giving the Celtics a 87-85 win, and a 1-0 lead in the series.
WHAT IT MEANS: All season long, the Knicks had heard they were an offensive machine that paid little attention to defense. But New York had one of its best defensive performances of the season, holding the Celtics to just 43 percent shooting from the field while going into halftime with a 51-39 lead. Still, the Celtics showed why they’re the defending Eastern Conference champions, executing down the stretch when it was necessary. Boston outscored New York 8-3 in the final two minutes of the game, while forcing Carmelo Anthony to attempt two highly difficult 3-pointers. The bottom line is the Knicks showed they belonged, but the Celtics showed they’re still the more experienced, veteran team.
ORANGE WATCH: Anthony had a forgettable playoff debut with the Knicks, going 5 for 18 from the field for 15 points. He also had five turnovers and spent most of the first quarter on the bench after picking up two early fouls. One of those turnovers was a key offensive foul with 21 seconds left and the Knicks up by one. The former Syracuse star was trying to fight for position with Paul Pierce and the two players got tangled, but Anthony was whistled for the foul, setting up Allen’s final shot.
STAR GAZING: Amare Stoudemire scored 28 points and had 11 rebounds. He was by far their best player, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter, including eight in a row at one point. But Stoudemire barely touched the ball in the final two minutes. All five starters for the Celtics reached double digits with Allen (24 points), Pierce (18) and Garnett (15) leading the way. Rajon Rondo nearly had a triple double with 10 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
INJURY REPORT: With one minute left in the game, Chauncey Billups drove down the lane and collided with Jermaine O’Neal, missing the layup. Billups limped off the floor and didn’t return and his status for Game 2 is in the air. Billups has had two thigh injuries since coming to the Knicks, but losing Billups at this stage would be a blow to their chances of beating the Celtics.
WHAT’S NEXT: Game 2 will be on Tuesday in Boston.Wesley Cheng