If this is how the playoffs are going to go for the Celtics, their fans had better schedule a lot of relaxation time between games. Ray Allen's 3-pointer from the left wing with 11.8 seconds gave the Celts a stirring, come-from-behind, 87-85 win over the New York Knicks in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first round series in the 2011 NBA Playoffs
Carmelo Anthony launched a shot from long range with four seconds left but it barely grazed the front rim and was rebounded by Kevin Garnett, allowing the Celts to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Allen led the Celts with 24 points, 18 of them in the second half, making 3-of-5 from deep while adding six rebounds. Paul Pierce had 18 points and held Anthony to just 1-of-11 shooting in the second half, Kevin Garnett posted 15 points and 13 rebounds and Jermaine O'Neal had his best game as a Celtic with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, four rebounds (three offensive) and four thunderous blocks.
The C's were looking less like a championship caliber team and more like the inconsistent mess they've resembled for the past six weeks in the first half, trailing 51-39 at the break and getting outscored 28-15 in the second quarter, shooting 41 percent to the Knicks 54 percent in the process. But there was a renewed intensity after halftime, especially on the defensive end, which allowed Boston to get back into the game. The C's cut the Knicks lead to five to close out the third quarter before the two teams traded punches in the fourth. The Knicks went back ahead by as many as five in the final frame, as Amare Stoudemire did his best to take over. Stoudemire scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth, showcasing one monstrous post move after another in the process. But it was Anthony who took the last shot for New York, a rushed, contested 3-point attempt from well beyond the arc.
Anthony, who finished with 15 points, was called for an offensive foul away from the ball on Pierce with 21 seconds left and the Knicks up one, setting the stage for Allen's heroics. The Celts had trailed by three with 35 seconds to go after a huge 3-pointer by Knicks guard Toney Douglas. But the Celts executed a perfect alley-oop from Rajon Rondo (10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists) to Garnett to cut the New York lead to a point.
The Celts got just eight points out of their bench and shot just 44 percent from the floor on the night, issues that will need to be addressed before Game 2, which will be played on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Knicks may be without point guard Chauncey Billups, who left late in the fourth quarter with a strained knee, and did not return.