Needing just one more win to complete a four-game sweep over the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon, the Celtics raced out to a 23-point lead, sweated out a spirited Knicks comeback and held fast, finishing off New York with a 101-89 win, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the winner of the Miami/Philadelphia series, currently led 3-1 by the Heat.
Kevin Garnett led the C's with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 10 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo continued his stellar play with 21 points (8-of-12 from the field), 12 assists and five rebounds. The Celts shot 49 percent and opened up a 17-point halftime lead that they would extend to as many as 23 in the third quarter. Glen Davis chipped in 14 points on 6-of-8 from the floor in by far his best game of the series, helping to make up for a couple of off days for Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, who combined for 27 points but shot just 10-of-31 from the floor.
The Knicks got a top-shelf performance from Carmelo Anthony, who scored 32 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but didn't get much help elsewhere. Amare Stoudemire, questionable right up to game time thanks to his sore back, struggled his way to 19 ponts on just 5-of-20 shooting. Stoudemire gutted out 44 minutes and did grab 12 rebounds, but was clearly not himself, missing nine of 10 first half shots. Reserve guard Anthony Carter sparked the Knicks near comeback in the third and fourth quarters, scoring 11 points to go with five rebounds and four assists along with a couple pretty defensive plays. The Knicks held the Celts without a field goal for more than seven monutes between the third and the fourth. But Pierce's runner and a jumper by Rondo out of a time out with just under seven minutes left pushed the Celts lead to eight after the Knicks had cut it to four, and the home team wouldn't get any closer.
The Celts, who swept their first series since a 3-0 triumph in a first-round, best-of-five against Indiana in 1992, will now have a week off, with Game 1 of their East semis scheduled for next Sunday. The Heat and Sixers will resume their series on Wednesday night in Miami.