BOSTON -- The New York Knicks played tough defense from the start and pushed the Boston Celtics to the brink of elimination.
Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points and Raymond Felton had 15 points and 10 assists, leading the Knicks to a 90-76 win over the Celtics on Friday night, giving New York a 3-0 lead in the opening-round, best-of-seven series.
The Knicks moved one victory from their first playoff series win since 2000.
"We set the tone defensively tonight and we were active," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "That's the way you're going to win on the road."
J.R. Smith scored 15 points for the Knicks before getting ejected for a flagrant-2 foul after he elbowed Jason Terry with 7:06 to play.
Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Boston. No NBA team has ever come back from an 3-0 deficit.
"Closeout games are always tough," Woodson said. "I just told our guys at the end of the game, 'Let's be humble. You followed the game plan and it worked.'"
Anthony has never felt the happiness of a playoff sweep. It's something he'd like to experience.
"To be honest with you, to accomplish that we be spectacular," Anthony said. "It would be a dream come true. I never swept anyone. I've been on the other side of (the floor). I know they'll come out and play hard."
Felton was on the other end of a sweep during his days with Charlotte.
"We're up 3-0. I want to keep it going," Felton said. "We're really hungry. We feel like it's right in the palm of our hands."
The Celtics know they have history against them.
Boston has advanced to the at least the second round every year since Garnett arrived, winning a title and losing in the NBA Finals. The Celtics lost to Miami last year in the Eastern Conference finals.
"Listen, you're down 3-0, it's a simple message, 'You have to win the next one,'" Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "That's where it starts."
Jeff Green led the Celtics with 21 points and Paul Pierce had 17, but Pierce had a dismal shooting night, going 6 of 15 from the field. Kevin Garnett added 12 points and 17 rebounds.
"Just play together," Green said. "We got a lot of easy looks tonight and missed a lot of easy layups. I think that affected us on the defensive end."
After a rough shooting start, Anthony scored eight points during an 11-4 run in the final four minutes of the second quarter, helping the Knicks open a 47-31 halftime advantage.
"I just thought in the second quarter that we got so frustrated with our offense that we let up defensively," Rivers said.
The Celtics walked off the floor at halftime to a spattering of boos from a home crowd that came charged up to try to help them. Instead, it left many in the sellout crowd wondering if they may have seen the last season of Garnett, who came in with the now-departed Ray Allen, and carried Boston to the 2008 NBA title.
The Knicks won the Atlantic Division for the first time since Garnett came to Boston in the summer of 2007. Now, they have the Celtics on the edge of elimination.
NOTES: The Celtics played their first game in TD Garden since the Boston Marathon bombings. At the end of the first quarter, the team honored first responders, including members of the Boston, Watertown and Cambridge police departments, FBI agents and doctors and nurses from local hospitals in their "Heroes Among Us" program. ... There was heavy security outside the Garden, with bomb-sniffing dogs around the outside and inside of the building. ... Rivers said guard Avery Bradley missed part of Thursday's practice with a "stomachache." Rivers also said Garnett wasn't bothered during Thursday's practice by the hip pointer he suffered in Game 2. "He looked good," Rivers said. ... Boston guard Rajon Rondo, out for the season after he underwent surgery for a torn ACL on Feb. 12, shot free throws on the court about an hour before tipoff.