2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
First Round – Game 3
Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Friday, April 22, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Knicks -2
Current Line: Knicks -3.5
Opening Total: 191
Current Total: 191.5
Money Line: Knicks -165 / Celtics +145
Carmelo Anthony has proclaimed Game 3 a “must-win” for his New York Knicks on Friday when they host the Boston Celtics as they try to avoid going down 0-3 in their best-of-seven playoff series. Anthony hopes he will have some help from teammates Amar’e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups though as the Knicks (-3.5) try to earn their first playoff victory since 2001.
The former Syracuse star did everything he could to help New York win Game 2 on Tuesday, but his game-high 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists were not enough in a 96-93 loss. Toney Douglas (14 points) was the only other Knick to score more than 10 with Billups out due to a leg injury and Stoudemire dealing with back spasms.
“I think it was more like a mental exhaustion, just knowing how hard we played, how close we were in both of those games for us to not win any of those games,” Anthony said. “It’s a must-win for us – this is the hardest game by far that we’ve played this season.”
Billups and Stoudemire both missed practice on Thursday, but the latter is expected to play through the pain in the team’s biggest game of the year. Stoudemire had 28 points and 11 rebounds in an 87-85 Game 1 loss and was limited to less than 18 minutes in Game 2, which Billups missed altogether. Stoudemire will need to produce more than the four points and five boards he had in Game 2 to get back into this series at Madison Square Garden.
Meanwhile, the Celtics have done everything they have needed to do in the final minutes of each of the first two games to beat New York and will try to win their seventh straight in the series. Point guard Rajon Rondo had a monster performance in Game 2, totaling a team-high 30 points and seven assists. Power forward Kevin Garnett also made some big plays late, scoring the go-ahead basket and then coming up with a key steal to seal the deal. Garnett did what he could to take advantage of Stoudemire’s absence, making 6 of 16 shots from the field and finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
While Boston has enjoyed success against the Knicks recently, the team is just 1-4 against the spread in the past five meetings, including 0-2 in the last two games. The total has gone UNDER in three of the past four meetings after going OVER in four of the previous six.
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