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Sweep revenge? Knicks try to close out Celtics in 4

The New York Knicks will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal with the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.

The Knicks haven't won a playoff series, let alone swept one, since the spring of 2000. They took out the Toronto Raptors, 3-0, in the first round that year, beat the Miami Heat in seven games in the conference semifinals, and fell to the Indiana Pacers in six in the East finals.

The Celtics swept the Knicks in the first round just two years ago.

"I mean, to be honest with you, to accomplish that would be spectacular, it would be a dream come true," Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said of the prospects of a sweep. "I've never swept anybody."

Anthony has never even gotten out of the first round of the playoffs before. But that doesn't stop him from having a rational demeanor about Sunday's game.

"We know Game 4 is win or go home for those guys," he said. "I've been on that side of the pole plenty of times and I know that feeling. I know the type of energy they're going to come out and display here on Sunday. We just have to be prepared for the punches that they throw and everything they put out there on the basketball court."

Speaking of punches, or at least elbows, the Knicks will play without NBA Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith on Sunday. He was slapped with a one-game suspension for an elbow that struck the chin of Celtics guard Jason Terry in Game 3.

Energy or effort was not an issue for the Celtics in Game 3.

The Celtics played their first home game in Boston since the tragedy at the Boston Marathon almost two weeks ago. The C's were scheduled for a home game on April 16, the night after the bombings, but the game was canceled.

Despite the anticipation, the Knicks jumped out early on Friday night and led by five after the first quarter. The lead ballooned up to 16 at the half and the final was 90-76.

"I just told our guys at the end of the game, lets be humble," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson. "We followed the game plan and it worked. We have a day to sleep on it and get ready for Sunday's game and we've got to treat it just like we did tonight."

The Celtics have just struggled to put the ball in the basket. They haven't cracked 80 points in any of the three games in this series and haven't shot better than 41 percent.

"I thought we wanted it so bad, we were so anxious," Celtics star Paul Pierce said of Friday's setback. "You want it so bad and you rush, and get real anxious. And I thought that's what we did tonight. I thought we played hard, had some good looks. The ball just didn't bounce our way."

Head coach Doc Rivers tinkered with his starting lineup Friday. Veteran Jason Terry started in the backcourt with Brandon Bass coming off the bench.

"The reason I did it: I was just (trying) to alleviate some pressure from Avery (Bradley.) I just think all the ball-handling that he's doing -- it's just too much, honestly," said Rivers.

The Celtics have clearly missed All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, but this is a proud group.

Pierce had 17 points in Game 3 and Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 17 rebounds on Friday.

If the Celtics prevail on Sunday afternoon, Game 5 would be Wednesday in Madison Square Garden.