The Boston Celtics didn't exactly erase the demons of their tumultuous regular season taking on the Knicks last night. However as the saying goes: A win is a win, and they'll take it in whatever form it comes.
The Celtics relied on one of their old heads (not that there are many young heads on the roster to begin with) as Ray Allen hit a game winning three point field goal with under 20 seconds remaining. It was part of Allen's team leading 24 points on a night when he started slowly.
It may be harsh to say the Celtics were lucky considering this is the playoffs. However it cannot be denied that things certainly went their way in this game. Carmelo Anthony got himself into early foul trouble in the first half which subsequently led to a 5-18 record from the field. In the final minute one of New York's most important pieces Chauncey Billups left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury. Two plays later, Anthony was called for a questionable offensive foul against Paul Pierce costing the Knicks a chance to ice the game.
At this point Rajon Rondo took the ball down the court and fed Allen from an off ball screen. The mercurial shooting guard pulled up above his defender and shot the ball with pinpoint accuracy to make the game 87-85 in Boston's favor.
There were still 11 seconds left on the clock however. The midseason trade for Carmelo Anthony was done for these very moments by the Knicks. Melo, as he is affectionately known in New York, leads the league in last possession game winning baskets since he entered the league according to ESPN's statistics.
Fittingly he matched up to Ray Allen with time running down and looked to win the game with a three pointer rather than settle for the tie. Anthony couldn't do what Allen had just done and his attempt fell short of the rim.
Anthony may be Mr. Clutch from inside the arc but Ray Allen leads the league in go ahead three point attempts with less than 24 seconds on the clock since 2007.
It was a fitting end to a game that had started so poorly for Carmelo. New York may take confidence from the fact that they only lost by two without getting production from their main scorer. However the loss of Billups could be huge as Rajon Rondo neared a triple double last night (10, 9, 9) with him in the lineup. Imagine what he will do against Tony Douglas in game two?
The second game of this seven game series takes place on Tuesday night at 7 ET in TD Garden.
The Celtics are now 5-0 against the Knicks this season.
This is the second time this year that they have hit a last possession shot to win the game. Paul Pierce did the honours during the regular season in New York.
Shaquille O'Neal was inactive as Jermaine O'Neal started in his place. O'Neal didn't miss a field goal all night scoring 6-6 for 12 points and giving the team 23 minutes.
Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen both played over 40 minutes for the game. Allen's game winning three pointer was his third of the night of only five attempts. Allen has now made an NBA-leading seven go-ahead 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime since 2007.
Chauncey Billups' status is uncertain for Tuesday's game.
The Knicks have lost their last three playoff series since beating the Miami Heat in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2000.
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