Final: Celtics 113, Knicks 96. Maybe after Game 2 of this series, the Celtics were a little worried that they hadn't had a decisive win yet in this series. They've taken care of that worry now, recording a blowout over the Knicks in their own building. This one was a laugher.
Rajon Rondo finishes with a triple-double — 15 points, 20 assists and 11 rebounds.
Ray Allen scores 32 points (including eight 3-pointers), and Paul Pierce outdoes him with 38 (but only six treys). The C's cruise to a 3-0 series lead.
This weekend, they'll look to finish the job. They return to Madison Square Garden at 3:30 on Sunday afternoon.
Fourth quarter, 3:45, Celtics 106-84: Ray Allen adds one more 3. For good measure, Paul Pierce drills one too.
Allen is now 8-of-11 from long range. Pierce is 5-of-7.
In case you're wondering, the single-game playoff record is nine 3s in a single game. Guess who holds that? Yep, it's Ray — twice, tied with Vince Carter and Rex Chapman.
Last time he hit nine in a playoff game was 2009, in the epic triple-overtime game in Chicago.
Fourth quarter, 6:25, Celtics 96-76: Amare Stoudemire has played 30 minutes. He's got six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
In other words, he's not himself.
The Celtics are dominating, but they're also lucky. They've emerged as the substantially healthier team in this series, which they weren't a week ago.
Fourth quarter, 9:33, Celtics 88-70: Doc Rivers is leaving his starters in the game for now. We'll see how long that lasts.
Paul Pierce just ended a 7-0 Knicks run with another jumper. Unless he suddenly runs cold for about 10 possessions in a row, a fourth-quarter collapse isn't looking likely.
End of third quarter, Celtics 86-63: You know the Celtics are having a good night when even Rajon Rondo's desperation heaves at the buzzer are going in.
Rondo reaches the triple-double with that shot. He's now got 11 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
And he might not even be the best Celtic on the floor.
Ray Allen has 26 and Paul Pierce, 25.
The Celtics are cruising to a 3-0 series lead.
Third quarter, 2:49, Celtics 77-56: Ronny Turiaf came up with a bucket in the paint at the 6:52 mark. The Knicks haven't scored since.
Four minutes is a pretty long drought. They don't seem to care about snapping out of it, either.
Third quarter, 4:30, Celtics 77-56: Rajon Rondo just made a ridiculous pass to Kevin Garnett, the length of the floor. Garnett finishes at the rim. If the crowd here at MSG wasn't already totally dead, that should just about do it.
The Celtics are on a 12-2 run. They've pushed their lead from 11 to 21 in the blink of an eye.
Don't worry, New York. You'l win a playoff game someday…
Third quarter, 6:10, Celtics 73-56: Rajon Rondo gets going on a 2-on-1 fast break against Carmelo Anthony, and he gets to the line. He makes both free throws, shockingly.
Rondo is chasing down a triple-double. He's already got nine points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.
Third quarter, 8:41, Celtics 63-50: Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each score. Again.
That's 23 now for Pierce and 20 for Allen. No one else is doing anything, but who cares? These two guys are dominating.
Amare Stoudemire hasn't been himself. The Knicks need him to get going. They can't match the Celtics shot for shot without some stats from STAT.
Third quarter, 9:41, Celtics 58-47: Ray Allen gets the second half going with a smooth 3, and Paul Pierce follows with one of his own.
These guys are thriving on the big stage. There's nothing quite like playoff basketball on Broadway, and the C's are savoring this.
Halftime, Celtics 52-44: The Knicks put together a couple of solid defensive efforts back in Boston, but they're struggling on their home court. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are lighting them up so far in Game 3.
Pierce finishes the first half with 17 points, and Allen adds 16. Combined, they're shooting 11-for-20. The Knicks are struggling to clamp down on the wings.
Carmelo Anthony puts together another huge half a basketball game for New York. He's got 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block to lead the way for the home team.
He needs some help, though.
Second quarter, 2:27, Celtics 46-37: Things get too close for comfort at 42-37, but the C's push the lead back with a quick 4-0 burst.
Pierce gets a layup off a Rondo assist. That's 16 points now for the captain. Rondo is on pace for a triple-double with five points, six assists and six boards.
Second quarter, 5:25, Celtics 40-33: Carmelo Anthony strikes back with a deep 3 off an assist from Roger Mason. That's his first 3. He's now got 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
Chauncey Billups is still out, and Amare Stoudemire has played 10 minutes but has been ineffective. It's all on Carmelo to run the show again.
Looks like he's up to that challenge.
Second quarter, 5:58, Celtics 40-30: Rajon Rondo makes a dazzling hustle play to get an offensive rebound, and he finds Ray Allen with a cross-court pass into the corner for an open 3. Nice pass, nice shot.
The Celtics push their lead back to 10.
If they don't leave their starters in for heavy minutes tonight, they might be in trouble. They need Rondo, Ray and Pierce to keep the offense flowing.
Second quarter, 8:01, Celtics 34-29: Ray Allen just threw up a lob for an alley-oop to Jeff Green. No dice.
Green is still showing some difficulty meshing with the Celtics' starters. He's got five points already, but his play has looked choppy at times.
The C's are clinging to a five-point lead. If you blinked, you missed when it was 17.
Second quarter, 10:15, Celtics 29-22: The second unit doesn't exactly come out guns-blazing. Glen Davis just bricked a contested 18-footer in the final seconds of the shot clock. The buzzer sounds.
These guys need to find a way to score without Paul Pierce on the floor. Big Baby and Delonte West are a combined 0-for-4.
End of first quarter, Celtics 27-20: You get the impression that Paul Pierce likes it here in New York. The fans are rowdy, and he feeds off of that energy. He's running on pure adrenalin, just drilling shot after shot and soaking up the boos.
The Knicks have gone on a 15-5 run to close the quarter, but this game is still all Pierce. The Boston captain has 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He's out to make a statement.
Carmelo Anthony has six points, five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal for the Knicks. He's not going down without a fight.
First quarter, 4:11, Celtics 22-5: Delonte West and Glen Davis are on the floor now. The Celtics have a huge early lead, but here's the big question — can they hold it with their backups on the floor?
West has had an uninspired postseason so far. We'll see if he can put it together in Game 3.
First quarter, 5:55, Celtics 15-5: Paul Pierce is on fire. He just nailed a 3 and picked up a chance for a four-point play off a Carmelo Anthony foul.
The lazy, unfocused, unable-to-guard-anyone Knicks have emerged again. Finally.
First quarter, 9:13, Celtics 9-0: The Celtics couldn't possibly ask for a better start. Paul Pierce is on a tear with seven points early, including two free throws off a hard playoff foul from Amare Stoudemire.
Things are already chippy. Kevin Garnett had to hold Pierce back from starting something with Stoudemire. We've still got 45 minutes to go, but emotions are already running high.
First quarter, 11:15, Celtics 2-0: The Knicks open the ballgame with a shot clock violation. The Celtics respond with a smooth jumper from an isolated Paul Pierce.
Solid start on both ends for Boston.
7 p.m.: This is the first NBA playoff game in this building in seven years. The fans here sound like they know it.
The atmosphere is electric at Madison Square Garden, with rousing cheers of "Let's go, Knicks!" mixing with other, less positive cheers directed toward Boston.
The Mecca of Basketball is back. How can you not love that?
6:45 p.m.: Mike D'Antoni addressed a throng of media members prior to tonight's game, all of them eager to hear the latest on the Knicks' two injured stars.
His answers? Amare Stoudemire is a "game-time decision." Chauncey Billups is "less than a game-time decision."
The outlook isn't good for Billups. It often isn't with a strained knee involved.
As for Amare, he's on the floor and looks healthy. He's getting a rousing "MVP" chant from the home crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Just a few minutes to game time, folks. Find a nice comfortable chair and don't move for the next two hours.
5 p.m.: Welcome to Madison Square Garden, where it's two hours to game time and all the news is of the most interesting kind: injury updates.
Amare Stoudemire has back spasms but is likely to play Friday night in Game 3. Chauncey Billups has a strained knee and his status is unknown. Shaquille O'Neal … who knows? Definitely not playing Game 3, but Game 4 and beyond are starting to look like possibilities.
Everyone's playing hurt to some extent. That's the nature of the beast. Gotta love playoff basketball.
8 a.m.: The Celtics snuck out of Boston with two unsettlingly close wins, two unimpressive games stolen on their home court from a lesser Knicks team. They've got a commanding lead in their first-round East playoff series heading down to New York, but they're not about to get carried away with enthusiasm.
"It means we did what we were supposed to do," Kevin Garnett said. "We defended our home. Now it's time to go on the road and try to steal one."
The Knicks are in the opposite position. They may be down 2-0, but they couldn't be feeling better about the way they've played to open the postseason. They've been without Chauncey Billups, without Amare Stoudemire and without the boost of home-court advantage, and they've fought two games down to the wire.
Take it from Carmelo Anthony, who dropped 42 points in a nail-biting Game 2 loss: The Knicks are just fine.
"My teammates, they feel very, very confident right now heading to New York," Anthony said. "My message to them after the game was Boston didn't do anything but take care of home court. Now we've got to go home and do what we've got to do."
Billups (knee) and Stoudemire (back) are both still up in the air for Friday night. Meanwhile on the Celtics' side, Shaquille O'Neal is out, and his return is still a total mystery. But everyone else on both sides will be raring to go.
After seven years away, playoff basketball is back at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics and Knicks, the two oldest franchises in the game, will continue their rich tradition in the mecca of basketball, in New York City.
The C's and Knicks tip off Game 3 at 7 p.m.
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