The game was a preview of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, which starts Sunday at 7:00 p.m. (et) in Boston, though both teams sat most of their starters in the regular season finale.
“This is what the guys have been preparing for all year,” said Boston head coach Doc Rivers of the postseason.
Amare Stoudemire, however, did play for the first time in four games, and totaled 14 points in a little over 20 minutes for the Knicks.
Stoudemire’s return wasn’t enough against the reserves of the third-seeded Celtics (56-26), who got 19 points from Sasha Pavlovic, 17 from Glen Davis and 14 apiece from Jeff Green and Von Wafer.
The Knicks (42-40), who reached the postseason for the first time in seven years, were led by Landry Fields’ 16 points.
“It’s gonna be crucial of getting loose balls and rebounds and getting in the way of people,” said New York head coach Mike D’Antoni of the playoff meeting. “But I could be talking about any team because the formula for winning is the same everywhere.”
Stoudemire, recovering from an ankle injury, had eight points in the first quarter to carry the Knicks to a 28-27 lead.
Early in the second stanza, Pavlovic hit a pair of three-pointers during a 12-0 run, which helped the hosts take a 61-57 lead into the break.
The Celtics were up, 86-84, going into the final stanza and scored the first 11 points of the fourth to turn the close game in their favor.
Troy Murphy’s dunk four minutes in yielded a 97-84 cushion, and Boston cruised from there.