2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
First Round – Game 4
Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Sunday, April 24, 2011, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Celtics -1.5
Current Line: Celtics -3.5
Opening Total: 195
Current Total: 195
Money Line: Celtics -140 / Knicks +120
The sixth-seeded New York Knicks (42-43) were able to hang around in the first two games of their first-round playoff series with the third-seeded Boston Celtics (59-26) due to outstanding individual performances from Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Neither Stoudmire nor Anthony played well in a 113-96 loss in Game 3 on Friday though, putting the Knicks into an 0-3 hole heading into Sunday’s Game 4 that could end their season.
The Celtics (-3.5) got a game-high 38 points from Paul Pierce and 32 from Ray Allen in their latest victory and simply have too much experience. Even the youngest member of their starting five Rajon Rondo had his second straight impressive game, totaling 15 points, 11 rebounds and a game-high 20 assists. Rondo had scored 30 points in a 96-93 win in Game 2 and nearly put together a triple-double in the series opener. As dominant as this team has been in the postseason over the last few years, a series sweep has not been accomplished.
“I’ve never been part of a sweep, but I don’t like to think about that stuff – we don’t worry about that stuff,” Pierce said. “It’s about getting better one game at a time. We want to close the series, but they’re not going to give it to us.”
New York did not have Chauncey Billups available in Game 3 due to a leg injury and probably should have rested Stoudemire as well due to his back spasms. Anthony and Stoudemire combined to make just 6 of 24 shots from the field and totaled 22 points and 14 rebounds between them. Stoudemire had 28 points and 11 boards in Game 1 but struggled in Game 2, although Anthony’s 42-point, 17-rebound effort still kept the Knicks close. Billups is likely out again for Game 4 while Stoudemire has said he will not play if the pain continues to bother him.
“My game is very explosive – I love contact, I love to get to the basket, I love to draw fouls, I love to dunk,” Stoudemire said. “And so with a bad back, it’s kind of tough to play that way. There are adjustments to be made in order to be effective, but again, I don’t want to get out there and further injure my injury, and so it all depends on how I feel.”
The Knicks covered the spread in the first two games of the series as underdogs before getting blown out at home as 3.5-point favorites. They were 5-2 against the spread in the previous seven meetings with Boston before Game 3. Boston was 1-4 ATS in its previous five games overall before Game 3 and has won the last seven meetings along with nine of 10.
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