One down, three to go; Celtics outlast Knicks in overtime to force Game 5
Don't let us win today. Then we got Pedey (Pedro Martinez) tomorrow..we got Schill (Curt Schilling) Game 6..then Game 7..anything can happen in Game 7.
-- Red Sox 1B Kevin Millar before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. Boston trailed 3-0 in the series before rallying to win 4 straight.
I'll admit that the Celtics coming back and winning four straight games, and becoming the first NBA team in history to erase a 3-0 series deficit is unlikely. Very unlikely even. The Knicks were a much better team than the Celtics during the regular season, and completely outclassed Boston during the first three games of this series. The C's are injured, old and not getting consistent production from anyone on the roster outside of Jeff Green. Despite all the reasons why they shouldn't win this series, the fact of the matter is that until a team wins four games—the series isn't over. And that's why the Celtics and Knicks played today, despite cries from many that the series was over before the game even had begun.
For the first time this series the Celtics showed up and played a game worth talking about. Sure we had seen it a bit in the first halves of Game 1 and Game 2, but the second half performances in those games were so dreadful that it didn't matter.
The C's beat the Knicks 97-90 in overtime behind massive performances from Paul Pierce (29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assist), Kevin Garnett (13 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists) and Jeff Green (26 points and 6 boards). Boston came out with their "big" starting line-up, starting Brandon Bass alongside Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Kevin Garnett. The Knicks were forced to play without 6th man of the year, and their 2nd leading scorer, J.R. Smith after Smith was handed a 1 game suspension for elbowing Jason Terry in Game 3.
Boston dominated the first half behind huge performances from Pierce and Green, leading by 19 at the break. The Knicks struggled to find any semblance of offense without Smith, as Anthony started the game shooting 5-19.
However as good as the Celtics were in the first half, they were that awful in the 3rd quarter, being outscored 30-14 as Raymond Felton exploded for 16 points in the session. The crowd, buoyed by several thousand Knicks fans exploded as the Knicks cut the C's lead to just three points by the end of the quarter. New York has outscored Boston 101-63 in four 3rd quarters this series, with their performances in Games 1, 2 & 4 completely changing the outlook of the game.
New York completed the comeback in the 4th quarter, forcing OT as the Paul Pierce missed a 22 footer at the buzzer. The Celtics had 18 seconds to work with but came away with a contested Pierce jumper, and no, this is not copy and pasted from any one of 200 other Celtics games over the past fifteen seasons—the Celts yet again went with the clogged toilet offense.
Thankfully for the Celtics and their fans, it didn't matter as Jason Terry bailed the C's out. After 85 games of underperformance, Terry canned a pivotal three late in OT to give the Celtics the lead, and another bucket and a pair of free throws sealed things for the Celtics.
It was ugly, chippy and frustrating at times..but in many ways..it was perfect. The Celtics of these past six seasons have rarely been pretty, and it's only fitting that it took an ugly, grind it out game for the C's to avoid elimination.
On to New York, where a hungry Knicks team will look to win a playoff series for the first time in 4,727 days in front of a rabid crowd. It will be tough..but somehow I don't think the Celtics would want it any other way.