BOSTON -- Career averages and past performances mean little when facing a streaky shooter like J.R. Smith.
The New York Knicks guard entered the game Tuesday with a 14.1-point career average against the Celtics, including 16.5 points a game in two contests this season.
But Smith is the type of player who can drop 36 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder and go scoreless against the Philadelphia 76ers. Opponents have to be ready in case he has a hot hand.
He was scorching against the Celtics. Smith scored a game-high 32 points (13-24 FG, 1-3 on threes, 5-5 FT) in the Knicks 100-85 win at the TD Garden.
“He made unbelievable shots," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Smith's first 21 points came in the first half, when he powered the Knicks to a 58-44 lead after two quarters. He shot 50 percent (5-10 FG) in the second half and didn't finish his night until 3:01 left in the fourth, at which point the Knicks had a 14-point lead.
Smith equated his performance to simply playing basketball -- “Actually, I’ve stopped thinking – just stop thinking and go," he said.
The 6-6 Smith also took advantage of the gaps in the Celtics front court without Kevin Garnett. The Knicks as a team scored 50 of their 100 points in the paint.
“It feels like they didn’t have any shot blockers," Smith said. "[Chris] Wilcox played a little bit, but that’s pretty much their only shot blocker in the game. So take it to the basket, draw fouls, find some teammates that get open, and play from there.”
The Celtics will look to contain Smith when they travel to New York to face the Knicks on Sunday. They know what to expect, and what he is capable of doing on the court.
"He’s a good player," said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. "He was just knocking down shots."