Iman Shumpert’s arms were flung out by his sides, an airplane flying down the court, as he mimicked Jason Terry’s signature move. He had just hit a 3-pointer to increase the Knicks’ lead to 20 points in the second half of Game 6 at TD Garden Friday night.
It was a moment of antagonism in a game that saw Shumpert outplay all of his teammates, leading them into the second round of the NBA playoffs. And it was a moment that he had planned.
“I was watching film on the game they won in New York, and my brother pointed out to me when I was watching it that he sort of flew over me and disrespected me,” Shumpert said. “I kind of had it in the back of my head the whole game.”
That three, though, wasn’t Shumpert’s biggest moment. That came in the fourth quarter, when a Shumpert steal and layup ended the Celtics’ 20-0 run and sent the Knicks on the path to their 88-80 victory that ended the series.
As Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, “Shumpert, tonight, was their best player.”
He finished with 17 points, second only to Carmelo Anthony’s 21, hitting all three of his 3-point attempts. He added six rebounds and provided ferocious defense.
“He’s been keeping his head,” teammate J.R. Smith said. “Last year he was kind of fiery and so ready to get to the playoffs, kind of overly excited. This year he’s more confident, settled down. He’s developed a great jump shot — people can’t leave him open. He’s been playing great.”
Shumpert missed the playoffs last season after ACL surgery, but this year he showed up as the biggest presence for the Knicks at the biggest opportunity in his first postseason.
He seemed to be everywhere on defense, bolstering a unit that was the strength of the Knicks, who suffered through some uneven offensive performances throughout the series.
“I think that my teammates start to trust me a little more every game,” Shumpert said. “Defensively, they’ve always pushed me, always have trusted me to do my job. With the energy of the playoffs, I think it just took a step up.”
Try, try again
Anthony had missed 19 straight 3-pointers in the series before finally hitting one with 1:43 to go in the game, bringing the Knicks’ lead to 9 points. It was a dagger that ended a tough stretch for Anthony. “Somebody, like myself — as a scorer — you always believe that the next one is going in,” Anthony said. “You should never put any doubt or play with any doubt out there on the basketball court. It’s all about what happens in the next play, what you do the next play. I’m a big believer if you miss three, you miss four in a row, the fifth one can go in.” . . . Tyson Chandler again was a force for the Knicks on the boards with 12 rebounds, nine offensive. He added 9 points in the game. “I felt 100 percent tonight,” Chandler said. “It’s absolutely the best I’ve felt the entire playoffs, obviously coming off the neck injury. Tonight was the first time I came in the game feeling 100 percent and being able to go through my regular routine.” . . . Steve Novak did not participate in the team’s shootaround, and was ruled out of the game because of back spasms. “He’s got some stiffness and can’t move,” coach Mike Woodson said. “I just think it went out, locked up on him.” Novak was not able to return for the second half in Game 5 after suffering the injury.