NEW YORK The Boston Celtics came into Tuesday's game knowing as Carmelo Anthony goes these days, so go the New York Knicks. So when he got off to a fast start offensively, well, so did the Knicks. But in their haste to slow down Anthony via traps, it opened the flood gates - literally - for the rest of the Knicks who all seemingly caught fire in beating Boston, 118-110.
"They played well; no excuses from us," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I thought we over-reacted early and started trapping so early in the game; we never do that. That got everybody else activated."
Seeing New York Knicks putting up big scoring numbers isn't totally surprising, but to do so primarily with the 3-point shot, against the Celtics, is a bit unusual.
Boston came into the game with the NBA's top 3-point percentage defense with opponents shooting just 29.1 percent against them from 3-point range.
The Knicks connected on 19 of their 32 3-point attempts, the most 3's anyone has hit against the C's all season.
"They really shot the ball outstanding from 3," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "We didn't defend the 3 at all tonight. We dug ourselves a huge hole we couldn't dig ourselves out of."
Boston's shoddy 3-point defense was certainly a major factor in the game's outcome. Here's a review of some of the keys outlined prior to the game, and how they actually played out.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, Kevin Garnett, returns to the floor after C's coach Doc Rivers gave him last game off. Garnett was in a great groove scoring the ball, as well as defending and of course, rebounding. It's only one night and it shouldn't throw him totally out of whack, but Garnett is a creature of habit that does not like his routine to be disrupted. He understands the value that the Celtics place him in, knowing he has to play well and be healthy in the playoffs, for them to have any shot of making another deep playoff run. But you have wonder if missing the one game will impact his play, or possibly result in him getting off to a slow start.
WHAT WE SAW: Garnett looked a little shaky early on, but didn't need much time to find a good flow to his game. He finished with 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Carmelo Anthony: With the Knicks going with a three-guard lineup, Anthony slides over to the power forward position which means he'll be matched with Bass. Look for the Celtics to switch this often on defense. But if Anthony is guarding Bass, this might be the game in which Bass displays a low-post game. Because Anthony is strong, arguably the strongest small forward this side of LeBron James. But Bass is stronger and heavier - two factors he needs to utilize often tonight.
WHAT WE SAW: Of course the C's switched this up defensively, but Bass was never able to take advantage of Anthony in the post. Bass had 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting, but there was never a point in the game where he and the C's made the Knicks pay for their three-guard lineup that put Anthony at power forward.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo will likely be guarded at times by Iman Shumpert, an athletic, defensive-minded, on-the-ball-defender cut from the same cloth as Avery Bradley. He's quick enough to get up on Rondo and strong enough to throw Rondo off stride. But to Rondo's credit, he has figured out a way to beat every kind of defense, every kind of defender, thrown his way whose mission is to limit his effectiveness which is evident by him racking up double-digit assists in 22 straight games.
WHAT WE SAW: Rondo kept his double-digit assists streak alive by tallying 13 assists to go with 13 points and six rebounds. Shumpert spent some time defending Rondo, but Shumpert's ball pressure never seemed to bother Rondo enough to where it took him out of his game, even briefly.
STAT TO TRACK: Points will be hard to come by for both teams around the basket, a point that's drilled home when you look at the numbers in recent games. In the last 10 games, the Knicks are tops in the NBA in fewest points allowed in the paint, at 26.5. Right behind them? You guessed it. The Boston Celtics, who are giving up 27.4 points in the paint during the same period of time. It speaks to how they're defending, obviously. But it also says a lot about the opponents they have faced who rely a lot more on their perimeter shooting than pounding the ball inside or scoring off dribble penetration.
WHAT WE SAW: As expected, points in the paint were hard to come by for both teams. Boston finished the game with 28 points in the paint compared to the Knicks who had 34.