NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony started the playoffs exactly where he left off the regular season.
The NBA scoring champion poured in 36 points to lead the New York Knicks past the Boston Celtics, 85-78, Saturday in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks closed the game out with a 13-6 run after Kevin Garnett tied it for Boston, 72-72, with 8:15 left. Anthony scored eight in the burst.
Anthony's long jumper from the right side with 1:21 remaining moved the Knicks' lead to 83-76. His 3-point play on a drive and foul gave New York an 81-76 cushion with 2:31 to go.
Jeff Green led the Celtics with a playoff-high 26 points and Paul Pierce added 21 points and seven assists.
Garnett, who averaged 14.8 points during the regular season, was limited to eight points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field.
Anthony finished 13-of-29 from the floor, including 4-of-6 on 3-pointers. He was also 6-of-6 from the line. J.R. Smith added 15 off the Knick bench.
Garnett sat out most of the third quarter after picking up his third foul, but the Celtics clung to a 70-67 lead.
Boston snapped a 44-44 tie by outscoring the Knicks, 9-5, to end the half with a 53-49 advantage. The Celtics maintained the lead despite Garnett getting only six points.
Boston, however, did receive balanced scoring, as Green had 20 points, Avery Bradley scored 11 and Pierce added 10.
Anthony came out blazing in the first quarter, scoring 10 of the Knicks' first 12 points. He finished with 13, but didn't receive a lot of scoring help as only three other Knicks contributed points.
Raymond Felton, Smith and Martin combined for only 11 points as Boston held a 29-26 margin after the first.
Game 2 is Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
NOTES: Carmelo Anthony and Chris Copeland were selected Eastern Conference's Player and Rookie of the Month for April, respectively. Anthony averaged 36.9 points and 9.9 rebounds in 10 games. In scoring at least 40 points in three straight games, Anthony became only the second Knick to accomplish the feat, joining Bernard King. ... Copeland ranked fourth among all rookies in scoring (15.0) and fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.452). ... The Celtics lead the post-season series with the Knicks, 8-6. ... Kevin Garnett's 25,274 points in his career puts him in 15th place behind Reggie Miller (25,279) and Alex English (25,613. ... Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni was out because of a sprained right ankle. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Iman Shumpert.