Knicks hold off Celtics, end playoff drought

David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks to their first playoff series win since 2000.For the first time in 13 years the New York Knicks have won a playoff series, defeating the Boston Celtics 88-80 in Game 6. The last time the Knicks won a playoff series was in the 2000 Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat, the same year that Carmelo Anthony was a sophomore in high school.

How improbable was this win for the Knicks?

Prior to Friday night’s win, the Knicks had lost their last four games they had played with a chance to clinch a playoffs series. That was the longest current streak of its kind, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Knicks had also lost nine of their last 10 road playoff games and were 0-6 all-time on the road in Game 6 when leading 3-2.

And Anthony had advanced past the first round just once in nine previous postseason appearances.

What went right for Knicks?

Carmelo became the Closer. Anthony scored seven of the Knicks last 11 points over the final 3:50 of the fourth quarter to help the Knicks hold off a comeback bid by the Celtics.

Most PPG by Knicks Player vs Celtics
Playoff Series All-Time

From 3:50 in the 4th quarter on, Anthony passed the ball just twice on eight touches and made two of his four shot attempts. He had 29 passes on 40 touches prior to the closing stretch, making only 5-of-19 field goals.

The Knicks were able to take away a key part of the Celtics offense in Game 6 - their jump shots. The Celtics scored just 25 points on 30 percent shooting on jumpers in Friday's loss, with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green making a combined 4-of-17 jumpers.

Boston attempted a series-low 30 jump shots on Friday night after averaging 46 jump shots and 47 points off jumpers per game in their previous two wins against New York.

What went wrong for the Celtics?

Simply, they couldn’t find the basket until the final nine minutes of the game.

The Celtics were trying to become the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing in the series 3-0. Instead, they become the eighth team to lose the series in six games after losing the first three games.

Boston scored 27 points in the first half, the third time this postseason they scored fewer than 30 points in a half. In fact, the three lowest-scoring halves in franchise postseason history in the shot clock era each came in this series – Game 1 (25 points) and Game 2 (23 points).

The Celtics scored 49 points in the first 38 minutes and 11 seconds of the game, and then 31 points in the final nine minutes and 49 seconds. Through three quarters they had more turnovers (16) than made field goals (15).

Boston averaged just 82.3 points per game in this series, its fewest scoring average in a best-of-7 postseason series in franchise history.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Game

This is the fourth road win for the Knicks against the Celtics this season. New York is the fifth team in NBA history to beat the Celtics four times in Boston (regular season and playoffs included) in a single season: the Indiana Pacers did it twice (2003-04 and 2004-05), the Chicago Stags in 1947-48 and the Knicks also in 1947-48.