Stoudemire Only Star On Court In Knicks-Celtics Playoff Preview
NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Knicks and Celtics needed the rest more than a playoff tuneup.
Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony sat out the regular-season finale for New York. Only Amar’e Stoudemire needed the work.
“I wanted to get a little rhythm going,” said the Knicks forward, who scored 14 points in 20 minutes on Wednesday night after missing the previous three games with a sprained left ankle. “I was in better shape than I thought I was.”
Avery Bradley scored a career-high 20 points as Boston’s “B” team beat the Knicks’ second string 112-102 in a game both teams treated as a chance to rest rather than as a rehearsal for their first-round playoff matchup. Glen “Big Baby” Davis had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Sasha Pavlovic added a season-high 19 points as the Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak.
Landry Fields had 16 points and seven rebounds for New York (42-40), which finished sixth in the conference to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Boston (56-26) finished the regular season with the No. 3 seed in the East.
The Knicks will return to Boston to open the Eastern Conference postseason on Sunday night.
And neither team was giving much away.
A crowd of 18,624 that came to see Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen instead got Von Wafer, Carlos Arroyo and Pavlovic. Shaquille O’Neal, who has played 5 minutes, 29 seconds since Feb. 1, also sat out.
The Knicks rested Billups and Anthony, and relied heavily on Derrick Brown, Bill Walker and Roger Mason Jr.
At least the fans got to see Stoudemire, who had not played since April 6.
“I actually enjoy whenever I see guys like that in games like this,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “We call them ‘ballers.’ Some guys just like playing. If we had a vote, Paul would’ve played. It’s in their blood. They just love playing. I think Amare is in that category, too. He’s just a baller.”
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said Stoudemire needed to get back on the court.
“I’m really glad we got him 20 minutes,” D’Antoni said. “That worked out. I was holding my breath the whole time, but it was good. He said he felt well, and it’s a good start.”
Bradley, Boston’s first-round draft pick who had scored a total of 32 points in 30 games this season, shattered his previous career high of five points. Wafer and Jeff Green had 14 points apiece, and Nenad Krstic had 13 for the Celtics.
“It still helps to see what some of the guys did,” Rivers said. “But we pretty much know.”
Boston led 84-74 before the Knicks scored eight straight points near the end of the third quarter. But the Celtics scored the first 11 points in the fourth to pull away.
Notes: The Celtics were wearing special warmups to acknowledge Monday’s Boston Marathon. Stoudemire was unaware of the tradition, saying, “Patriots Day? I thought football was on strike.” … Celtics who didn’t dress: Allen, Garnett and O’Neal. Knicks who didn’t dress: Billups, Anthony and Andy Rautins. Pierce and Rajon Rondo sat on the bench in uniform but did not play. … Green gave the pregame fan appreciation talk usually given by Pierce. … Pavlovic drew a technical in the third quarter for his response to Walker’s flagrant foul on a 3-pointer. Pavlovic, who made the basket, got two shots to make one free throw.
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