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Celtics Sweep Knicks in NBA Playoffs; 76ers Avoid Elimination

The Boston Celtics swept the New York Knicks to become the first team to advance to the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs. The Philadelphia 76ers won to avoid a 4-0 rout by the Miami Heat.

The Celtics beat the Knicks 101-89 at Madison Square Garden in New York yesterday, while the 76ers defeated Miami 86-82.

The 4-0 series defeat means the Knicks, who returned to the postseason for the first time in seven years, still haven’t won a playoff game since April 29, 2001. The Celtics may now have a week’s rest before their second-round series, against Miami or the 76ers.

“We’ve played very well when we’ve had rest and preparation time,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters.

Also last night, the New Orleans Hornets beat the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers 93-88 to tie their series at two games apiece. The Atlanta Hawks lead the Orlando Magic by three games to one after an 88-85 win. Atlanta can wrap up the series with a win in Orlando tomorrow.

Carmelo Anthony of New York had a game-leading 32 points and nine rebounds, while Amar’e Stoudemire added 19 points for the Knicks. Kevin Garnett led the record 17-time NBA champion Celtics with 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points.

The Celtics led by as many as 23 points and held on for a fifth sweep in a seven-game series after the Knicks closed to within four points in the final quarter.

Last-Minute Rally

At Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the Heat led by six points with 95 seconds to play before Evan Turner made a jump shot for the 76ers to cut Miami’s lead to 82-78.

Philadelphia followed up with two 3-pointers, the last one from Lou Williams with 8 seconds to play, to seal the win. It was Philadelphia’s first victory in seven meetings with the Heat this season.

Trailing 3-1 in games in the Eastern Conference series, the 76ers head back to Miami for Game 5 on April 27.

At New Orleans Arena, Chris Paul led the Hornets with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists against the Lakers. Game 5 is scheduled for tomorrow at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“We know that we’re capable of winning there,” Paul said in a televised courtside interview. “So we’ve got to go out there ready to play.”

In the day’s other game, Jamal Crawford scored 25 points as the Hawks beat Orlando at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 29 points and 17 rebounds.

Today, the Oklahoma City Thunder will seek a 4-0 sweep of the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs will try to tie its series against the Memphis Grizzlies at two games apiece and the Dallas Mavericks will host the Portland Trail Blazers looking to take a 3-2 lead in their series.

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