After the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference -- the Bulls and Heat -- failed to finish their opponents off in Game 4 of their respective series, the Boston Celtics rode a superb defensive effort to pull off a sweep of the New York Knicks.
This marked just the third time in the last 30 seasons the Celtics posted a sweep in a seven-game series in a round before the NBA Finals. Each of the past two times the Celtics rode that momentum and won an NBA Title.
Boston's defense led the way as the Celtics held the Knicks under 100 points in each of the four games. This coming after the Knicks averaged 106.5 points per game this season, second-best in the NBA.
Boston held New York to just 34.1 percent field goal shooting in Sunday's game, and just 38.5 percent for the series, the best field-goal percentage defense by any team thus far through the playoffs.
Knicks Offense This Season
The Knicks great equalizer throughout the regular season was the three-point shot, however Boston disrupted that as well. New York shot just 32.6 percent from distance in the series, down from their regular season percentage of 36.8, which was eighth-best in the NBA.
The Celtics also shut down the Knicks' transition game during the series. After averaging just under 15 points per game in transition during the regular season, Boston held New York to under 11 points per game in fast-break situation during the series.
Offensively, while Ray Allen and Paul Pierce carried a large share of the load, the series belonged to Rajon Rondo who controlled play and tempo throughout. Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists in the series clincher, his seventh career 20-point, 10 assist game in the playoffs.
Rondo’s 48 assists led to 110 points for the Celtics in the series. They averaged 27.5 points off of Rondo assists in the first round, up nearly three points per game from the regular season.
GarnettOne very encouraging sign for the Celtics was the emergence of Kevin Garnett on the offensive end in Game 4. After scoring just 36 points in the first three games of the series combined, Garnett exploded for 26 points, 20 of which came in the second half.
He also added 10 rebounds, snapping a streak of 16-straight playoff games without reaching the 20-point, 10-rebound plateau.
While the offense was a welcome addition, by far his greatest contribution to the series was his defense on Amar'e Stoudemire. The Knicks forward gave it a go in Game 4, and while he scored 19 points, he needed 20 shots to do so, making just five of his field goal attempts.
Stoudemire was not the same after his injury in the series. Game footage showed he was 7-of-11 on isolation plays, scoring 16 points in Game 1. The rest of the series, Stoudemire went 3-of-19 in isolation and scored just 10 points.