There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims, and that was the last time it was quiet for a while. First responders and other personnel were greeted with loud cheers as they were brought onto the floor during timeouts, and a tribute to the city's strength played on the overhead video board during a first-quarter stoppage.
But the Knicks' dominance wore down even the most spirited supporters, just the way LeBron James did in his 45-point performance in Game 6 of last year's Eastern Conference finals in the last playoff game here.
Rivers said he was aware of some of his team's shortcomings, with the absence of Rajon Rondo leaving the Celtics without a point guard. But Rivers — himself a former point guard — couldn't have imagined his team would be this unable to get into an offense, finishing with 18 turnovers that led to 26 Knicks points.
He started Terry for forward Brandon Bass, trying to find a way to get another ball handler on the floor. But it couldn't fix the Celtics' shooting and didn't really help much with the ball handling, as Terry had his dribble taken right away from him on one third-quarter possession when Boston briefly looked ready to get back into it.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett missed layups on the same possession to start the game, and it was clear right from there this wasn't the Celtics' night — or their series.
"Right now at this point, just take it one game at a time," Green said. "They haven't won it yet."
Garnett had 12 points and 17 rebounds, while Pierce missed six of his first seven shots and finished with 17 points.
The Celtics were within three early in the second quarter before Prigioni and Smith hit 3-pointers in an 8-0 run that made it 34-23. The Celtics had held Anthony in check until then, but he got hot late in the half while they remained ice cold.
Back-to-back jumpers had the defense keying on his jumper, so he spun toward the basket to catch an alley-oop, and Felton followed with a 3-pointer to make it 47-29 with 58 seconds left in the half. Green made a layup for the final basket of the half, then the Celtics walked off to boos.
Boston cut it to 49-38 and Terry was dribbling up the floor on a fast break when Prigioni stepped in and swiped the ball away from him. The Knicks missed a shot, but Prigioni grabbed the rebound to set up a 3-pointer by Anthony. Felton followed with another basket to make it 54-38, and Boston's momentum was gone for good.
The Knicks later led by as many as 21.
Boston has been held to 78, 71 and 76 points in the series.
NOTES: The Knicks' last sweep of a best-of-seven series was when they beat Atlanta in the 1999 East semis. They swept Toronto in a best-of-five series in the first round the following year. ... Rivers, on being fined $25,000 by the NBA on Thursday for his criticisms of the officiating in Game 2. "Usually the way it works, once NBA security calls, they're not calling to tell you they love you," he said. "Listen, like I said to them, I didn't get fined for being wrong. I got fined for saying it."
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney