Playing in the third contest on a Sunday that had seen the West's seventh and eighth seeds topple their conference's top two teams, the New York Knicks came within 11 seconds of continuing the chaotic trend of the NBA Playoffs' eminently enjoyable opening weekend. Unfortunately, the guy they left open loves nothing more than putting order to chaos, and he's hit more 3-pointers than any player in NBA history.
With the Boston Celtics trailing the Knicks 85-84 late in the fourth quarter of their first-round matchup's opening game on Sunday night, Ray Allen — he of the relentless pregame ritual, the unyielding adherence to routine and the Poland Spring stroke — found daylight behind the arc at the left elbow after coming off a Kevin Garnett screen. Calmly, cooly and inevitably, Allen rose, fired and finished.
A frantic final Knicks possession ensued, yielding a deep Carmelo Anthony 3-pointer that found iron, and just like that, Boston had held serve with an 87-85 win that gave them a 1-0 lead in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Of course, "just like that" doesn't really sum it up.
For starters, "just like that" leaves out how the game got to be in Allen's hands in the first place. That story starts with Boston chopping a 12-point halftime deficit down to five entering the final frame by locking the Knicks up in the third quarter, ends with Anthony being whistled for a controversial offensive foul against Paul Pierce with 21 seconds remaining, and features a beautiful set-piece inbounds lob from Rajon Rondo for a Garnett dunk in-between that brought Boston within a point.
(After the game, Knicks guard Anthony Carter told the New York Daily News that the team "had never come across a similar lob in their film study." Of course, NBA Playbook's Sebastian Pruiti had, which is why your favorite basketball team should probably hire Sebastian Pruiti.)
"Just like that" also leaves out how Allen got so open on the game-winner, which Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni attributed in part to an illegal screen/clip by Garnett on New York guard Toney Douglas, according to Newsday's Alan Hahn. Here's a blurry screenshot of the alleged trip-in-question, in case you want to get your grassy knoll on.Daily News' Bill Lawrence — that the New York Knicks "did not lose the opener of their first-round series because they got jobbed," but rather because in "the final half-minute, [the Celtics] executed beautifully, while the Knicks couldn't." (To be fair, Lawrence also leaves out the part about the Knicks missing 19 of 24 third-quarter shots to let Boston get back within striking distance. Don't forget that there's 48 minutes to these games.)
It leaves out Carmelo's nightmarish outing, which saw him pick up two fouls in the game's first 88 seconds, miss 10 of his final 11 shots and produce just 15 points on 18 attempts, and Amar'e Stoudemire's eye-opening beast of a performance, and the worrying fact that the Knicks couldn't, or maybe just didn't, find a way to get him the ball in the final three minutes. It leaves out the unlikely resurrection of Jermaine O'Neal, who hit all six of his field goals and blocked four shots to turn the game in Boston's favor defensively, and the uncertain prognosis for Chauncey Billups, whose left knee buckled with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, leaving New York's backcourt in turmoil going forward.
It leaves out, y'know, the story, which is why Kelly goes Behind the Box Score and beyond the highlight. But that 30-second clip sure does give you a hell of an ending.
The Celtics and Knicks start writing a new story on Tuesday night. Game 2 tips at 7 p.m. ET.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to peruse the dagger elsewhere, thanks to JulyFishHD.
- Boston Celtics