The Boston Celtics cruised to an easy 113-96 victory over the New York Knicks in game three of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at Madison Square Garden (MSG) in New York on April 22, taking a 3-0 series lead and pushing the home team to the brink of elimination.

It’s been said that every star player loves to play under the lights of MSG, and Celtics guard Ray Allen was no exception. The future Hall of Famer ripped New York for 32 points, shooting 11-of-18 from the field and 8-of-11 from the three-point line. Celtics star forward Paul Pierce also had a hot shooting touch, scoring a game-high 38 points on 14-of-19 attempts, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Rajon Rondo added his sixth career playoff triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists. His 20 assists set a new Celtics playoffs record, breaking the mark previously held by legendary guard Bob Cousy. But Rondo insisted the credit for the win should be given to Boston’s front court, for freeing up the team’s shooters for open shots.

“I would say our bigs are getting Ray and Paul open,” Rondo said during the postgame press conference. “Ray and Paul made them pay.”

Meanwhile, New York’s star players struggled as Carmelo Anthony failed to build on his 42-point performance in game two. Instead, Anthony scored just 15 points, while star forward Amare’ Stoudemire was slowed by back spasms, scoring just seven points with three rebounds. Forward Shawne Williams led the Knicks with 17 points scored off the bench.

“It’s tough knowing that Amare’s not 100 percent, Chauncey Billups is not 100 percent and we’re just trying to find our way on the fly right now,” Anthony said after the game. “That’s a tough situation but I think that would be making excuses if I sit here and say that they beat us because we’re not at full strength. We’ve still got guys that have to go out there and play, so I don’t want to use that as an excuse.”

Boston now has a chance to sweep the series, with game four tipping off in New York on April 24.