Brooklyn Nets hammered Chicago Bulls, while Denver edged the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers beat Memphis in the opening round of playoff matches.
NBA: New York Knicks start play-off campaign with win over Celtics
Carmelo Anthony carried his late-season scoring assault into the playoffs, netting 36 points as the New York Knicks' ran out 85-78 winners over the Boston Celtics.
Anthony shot 13-of-29 from the field and added a half-dozen rebounds and four steals for the Knicks, who were swept by Boston in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs two years ago.
The Knicks weren't the only New York team to win on the first day of the postseason as the Brooklyn Nets - in the playoffs in their first season since moving to the New York borough - dominated the Chicago Bulls en route to a 106-89 victory.
Deron Williams scored 22 points and Brook Lopez added 21 for the Nets, who earned their first postseason win since May 16, 2007.
Joe Johnson totalled 16 points and Reggie Evans grabbed 13 rebounds for Brooklyn.
As they have done all season, the Bulls made do without star point guard Derrick Rose, who hasn't returned since tearing a knee ligament in last year's playoff opener.
Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose is "most likely out" for the rest of the postseason.
Without Rose and with All-Star centre Joakim Noah hampered by plantar fasciitis, the Bulls offered little resistance.
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and Nate Robinson scored 17 off the bench.
For the Knicks, protecting their home court was much tougher against the Celtics, who led by as many as seven in the third quarter.
But the Knicks clamped down on defence, forcing Boston to make eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"This was a big game for us. We had to protect our home court. But we haven't done anything yet," said Anthony, vowing another victory on Tuesday when the Knicks host game two of the best-of-seven series.
New York held the Celtics to just eight points in the fourth and 25 overall in the second half. Boston shot 25.9 per cent in the second half.
J.R. Smith netted 15 points, while Raymond Felton added 13 points and six assists for the Knicks who held a 10-4 advantage in offensive rebounds and a 12-6 edge in second-chance points.
New York scored 20 points off Boston's 21 turnovers in the contest.
"We kept our composure," Anthony said afterwards.
"We stayed with it, corrected our mistakes and made the shots at the end."
Boston's Jeff Green scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half and Paul Pierce finished with 21 points and seven assists in the defeat.
Anthony said that even as the Knicks battle the Celtics, they and everyone in the league recognise that the city of Boston is going through a tough time in the aftermath of the deadly bombings at the Boston marathon.
"We know what Boston is going through," Anthony said. "This is the USA, one nation, one country and we've got to support each other."
Andre Miller's basket with just over a second left enabled the Denver Nuggets to edge the Golden State Warriors 97-95 at Pepsi Center in their opener - the 37-year-old scored 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.
A 37-22 final quarter was the icing on the cake for the Los Angeles Clippers, who sunk the Memphis Grizzlies 112-91 at Staples Center.
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