Ain’t no grave can hold the Celtics’ collective body down.
The Knicks came dressed to Madison Square Garden Wednesday dressed like Johnny Cash, all in black, and ready for an all-Green funeral. But the Celtics showed their trademark resiliency that has defined the Kevin Garnett era and beat the Knicks 92-86 in Game 5, to force a Game 6 Friday night in Boston.
The C’s are now halfway to the greatest series comeback in NBA playoff history as no team has ever come back from an 0-3 hole.
In a game filled with big Boston shots, Garnett’s elbow jumper off of two up-fakes with 48 seconds left may have been the biggest as it gave the Celtics a 90-83 lead when it appeared the Knicks may be gaining some late momentum. Garnett finished with 18 rebounds and 16 points.
Boston received double-digit scoring efforts from five different players, including Jeff Green (team-high 18 points), who hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions around the three minute mark of the fourth quarter.
Jason Terry also came up big for Boston for the second straight game, scoring 17 points off the bench. Terry’s 3-pointer with under 20 seconds to go in the first half highlighted a brilliant second quarter for the Celtics as Boston owned a 45-39 lead at intermission. The C’s also had a nine point lead, at 69-60, heading into the fourth quarter thanks to another made Terry shot from long-range.
The Celtics had a strong defensive effort as well as they contained New York super-scorer Carmelo Anthony for the second straight game. Anthony went just 8-for-24 from the floor and had missed eight straight shots at one point in the third quarter.
Paul Pierce played a team-high 44 minutes and finished with 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
Raymond Felton (21 points) kept the Knicks alive down the stretch as he routinely got to the basket. Like Anthony, JR Smith was cold from the floor, as he hit on just 3-of-14 shots to finish with 14 points.
What they’ll be saying: All the pressure now shifts to the Knicks and the Celtics have serious momentum after they were just seconds away from being eliminated in Game 4. One thing Boston must tighten up, however, is its defense on Felton, who once again abused the Celtics backcourt Wednesday night.
Terrence Williams may now be just as good of an option for Doc Rivers at point guard as Avery Bradley as Williams gave the C’s 17 quality minutes off the bench in the win. His baseline drive and dunk in the third quarter gave the Celtics a little adrenaline bump and the former Louisville star played under control throughout.