J.R. Smith made it clear he believes the Knicks would’ve won Game 4 had he not been suspended. As for who he was suspended for elbowing, he’s not yet ready to speak of him.
“Huh? Who? I don’t even know who that is. I’m sorry,” Smith would say any time either the elbow incident or Jason Terry’s name was brought up.
The only time Smith acknowledged Terry’s existence was when he alluded to the fact Terry engaged in questionable tactics, causing the Smith to swing his elbow.
“[Terry’s action] was [below the belt], but it doesn’t matter. ... There are some things that just don’t need to be discussed,” Smith said.
Smith, who acknowledged he’s “vital to the team,” then concluded that he’s learned his lesson. But in doing so, he may have also inadvertently given the Celtics some bulletin-board material.
“We had a minor hiccup, but then again we still had a chance to win,” he said. “I’m just glad to be back and move on. … But, oh yeah, it [the series] would’ve been over. I’d have been playing golf today.”
Instead, the Knicks got back to work on Tuesday, two days after a tense defeat in Boston.
But as heart-wrenching as the loss was, considering the Knicks fought all the way back from a 19-point deficit and forced overtime before falling in the extra frame, their spirits are still very high.
“We can’t think that because we’re up 3-1 that they’re just going to hand it to us,” Carmelo Anthony said about the Celtics’ resolve. “They did a great job of competing and fighting back in Game 4. But now we have a chance to do something special here.”
Head coach Mike Woodson added that he didn’t have to warn his team about overconfidence and he trusts his squad will be focused.
Woodson is a veteran of the game and knows how playoff momentum can swing in an instant. The reason Woodson and Co. are so guarded against overconfidence is because should the Celtics upset the Knicks in Game 5, it sends the series back to Beantown for Game 6. Then all the pressure falls at the feet of the No. 2-seeded Knicks
First thing’s first, though, said Woodson, who noted his squad is totally locked in to close out the series in Game 5.
“Well, it’s big-time urgency on our part, [but] we played the regular season for this. We were able to go to Boston and get a game on the road, so now we’re in position to close this out at home,” Woodson said. “This is a new group in these playoffs, and in playoff basketball anything is liable to happen. But if we play with high energy, we usually come out with a win. .. Close-out games aren’t easy, but I feel confident playing here.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.