Celtics Very Much Alive As Series Heads Back To Beantown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — J.R. Smith came back. His shot didn’t.

Smith returned from his one-game suspension and joined his Knicks teammates in wearing black as they prepared for the Boston Celtics’ “funeral.”

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“Well, we was going to a funeral, but it looks like we got buried,” Smith said. “Basketball is a very humbling game.”

Especially on nights like Smith had.

The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year missed his first 10 shots and finished 3 of 14 from the field as the Celtics stayed alive with a 92-86 victory Wednesday night, cutting New York’s lead to 3-2.

The Knicks didn’t have much of a choice but to wear their all-black street clothes after the loss.

“I’m done with this black stuff,” said Smith.


Forget the funeral. The Celtics are still very much alive.

“I’m just answering basketball questions,” Kenyon Martin told a Boston reporter after the game when asked about the black garb, according to the New York Post. “If you want to talk about basketball, we’ll talk about basketball.”

New York’s outfits may have keyed up the Celtics. The stunt also had one columnist seething.

“Perhaps these jokers should have remembered that two weeks ago bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon that killed three people, injured 264 and damaged that city and this country. … It was disrespectful. It was inappropriate. It was wrong-headed,” wrote Bill Reiter of FoxSports.com. “And, even if you want to argue falsely that the two things are not connected – if you want to try to kid yourself that 16 days should be enough for a city to wipe away the blood and scars and pain and let another city mock its mourning – there’s still good sense. A minor clue by any of these players should have been enough to have put a stop to it.”

Mike Vaccaro of the Post wrote that the idea was “as galling as it sounds, especially given the events in Boston. … Nice. Very classy.”

Smith received a loud ovation when he went to check in during the first quarter, but heard a few boos by the third. They will likely be deafening on Friday, the kind usually reserved in Boston for a Lakers player.

“We didn’t protect our home court like we wanted to and we have to go into a hostile environment and try to get another one,” Smith said. “We’ve got to go home, eat our humble pie and come back and play Game 6.”

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Celtics, who need two victories to become the first NBA team to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

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“We’re still down. Our mentality has to be all-out,” Garnett said. “It can’t be anything (else).”

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but was just 8 of 24 in another dismal shooting night for the Knicks, who blew a big lead in this game and now the series. They face an unwanted trip back to Boston instead of the rest this aging roster could surely use before the second round.

If they get there.

“I think we’re fine,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “Sure we would’ve loved to close it out and move on, but nobody said it would be easy.”

The Knicks would host Game 7 on Sunday.

“I told you from Game 1 that this wasn’t going to be a breeze, it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, them guys were going to fight and they’re showing some fight right now,” Anthony said. “They threw a couple punches at us now and it’s time for us to do the same.”

The Celtics were the first of the eight NBA teams that have come from 3-1 down, beating Philadelphia in 1968, and put themselves on the short list of teams that have erased a 2-0 deficit the next year in the NBA Finals.

So perhaps it would be fitting if they were the first to overcome 3-0.

“I think so. I mean, I think that would be wonderful, and someone’s going to do it and I want it to be us, obviously, since that’s the situation we’re in,” Rivers said before the game. “Someone will do it, and I really want to be a part of that.”

He’s still got a chance.

The Knicks limited the Celtics to 75 points per game while winning the first three, and nearly came back to win Game 4 on Sunday even without Smith. So they felt good even after missing their first chance to wrap it up, when Anthony was 10 of 35 in an overtime loss.

Point guard Raymond Felton said the Knicks still feel in control of the series “for sure.”

“I mean, this is what playoff basketball is about. Yes, we wish we could have swept them, yes we wish we could have won that game tonight. Sometimes things don’t happen that way,” he added. “Things aren’t always pretty, things aren’t always the way you want them to be. We’ve just got to grind it out and go get a win.”

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