Final, Celtics 97-90: Anybody wondering what all the fuss was about with Jason Terry got their answer. Terry delivered nine of his 18 points in overtime to power the Celtics to a win over the Knicks. With that, the Celtics survive to play a Game 5 in New York on Wednesday.
The Celtics overcame a huge performance by Raymond Felton, who had 27 points and was red-hot late as well. The Knicks just went to the well with Carmelo Anthony too often. Anthony had 36 points, but he was just 10-for-35 from the field and 4-for-14 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Overtime, :28.8, Celtics 93-90: The clutch player the Celtics have been waiting for Terry to be has finally arrived, in overtime of an elimination game.
Terry has scored the last five points for the Celtics to give them a three-point lead. Pierce began the overtime taking a few too many hero-ball shots, but Garnett brought things back to ground with a long jumper. Then Terry took over from there, and the Celtics might actually scrape this one out.
End of regulation, game tied 84-84: Overtime, here we come.
The Celtics got the switch they wanted when Chandler was forced to come out to the 3-point line to defend Pierce. Pierce even got a decent, contested look at the game winner, but he missed off the front iron.
Upon further review, the officials determined there was 0.4 seconds on the clock, leaving enough time for a tap-in play. The Celtics broke down and actually let Chandler get free at the hoop, but Kidd, the inbounder, missed it. Wilcox tipped away Kidd’s attempted pass to someone else to protect the tie.
The rest of the Celtics season will last at least another five minutes.
Fourth quarter, :18, game tied 84-84: Garnett, again. The Big Ticket collected the ball after Pierce passed out of a double-team and cashed in an 18-footer to tie it up. The Knicks then went back to Anthony, who missed again, twice, making him oh-fer his last six shots, counting the free throws.
Fourth quarter, 1:18, Knicks 84-82: Anthony, never known for being particularly clutch, is coughing up again. He has missed his last two shots, both gimme jumpers, plus he just muffed a pair of free throws.
Fortunately for New York, Felton is still hot. He dribbled off a screen and drained a jumper.
Copy and paste that previous sentence in a Word document about 1,000 times, and you will have the story of this series.
Fourth quarter, 2:17, game tied 82-82: If your den is painted green and adorned with framed Larry Bird jerseys on the walls, this does not look good.
The Knicks have battled back to tie it up again, getting a clutch corner three by Shumpert and a driving layup by Anthony, who split two defenders and banked in a shot over Terry. Now the Knicks have control again, with Shumpert tracking down an offensive rebound, giving the Knicks another play after this timeout.
Oh yeah, and Bass finally fouled out. So, there’s that.
Fourth quarter, 4:56, Celtics 78-76: If anybody should want an early vacation, it is the 36-year-old Garnett. But he is not playing like it. As soon as the Knicks knotted the score on a pickpocket steal and layup by Shumpert, the Celtics went to Garnett in the post and he delivered with a right-handed hook shot.
The biggest issue for the Celtics now is just getting the ball upcourt to run their offense. The Knicks tapped the ball away at the point of attack on back-to-back Celtics possessions, making for an embarrassing look for the Celtics. They just cannot get into their sets. Think they are still better without Rajon Rondo?
Fourth quarter, 7:59, Celtics 74-69: Pierce and Green are each working on scoring totals in the mid-20s to 30s, but the story of this game, as with the series, is Bass’ play.
The natural power forward keeps causing problems for Anthony defensively. He is nimble enough to keep with the quick-footed Anthony and too strong for Anthony to bully. Bass knocked the ball away from Anthony on a drive attempt, helping the Celtics extend their lead to five. The Celtics may not survive, but it won’t be because Bass did not give them enough.
End of third quarter, Celtics 68-65: Felton will not be denied.
In a matchup that was supposed to favor Boston, Felton is absolutely schooling Bradley. And this is the fourth straight game in which he has done so.
Felton scored 16 points in the third quarter, capping it off with a 28-footer that he put up without any doubt it was going in. The Celtics, who led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, are reeling.
Third quarter, 2:40, Celtics 65-55: Chip, chip, chip. Despite some odd calls that went the Celtics’ way, the Knicks keeping chipping away at the lead in a testy third quarter. Felton has hit a few massive threes, including one just a moment ago to cut Boston’s lead to 10 points.
The Knicks are taking tons of threes and pouncing on the long rebounds when they miss. The Knicks now have 10 offensive boards, nearly three times as many as the Celtics, who will have a hard time continuing to contain Anthony now that Bass has his fifth foul.
Anthony and Chandler each have four fouls, too. Getting those two in further foul trouble should be the Celtics’ top priority now.
Third quarter, 6:44, Celtics 59-47: Here they come. The run we all knew the Knicks had in them is in progress, as they have outscored the Celtics 12-5 to begin the second half.
The Celtics’ offense is getting into one of its funks, while things are starting to get physical. Garnett went to the bench with foul No. 4, while Green and Bass joined him with four each. The Celtics already have two second-half meltdowns on their resume in this series. Do bad things really come in threes?
Halftime, Celtics 54-35: It goes without saying that getting a big halftime lead is the best-case scenario for the Celtics. If they get ahead by enough, the Knicks might decide it’s not worth it to expend the energy for a comeback and call it a day early to look forward to Game 5.
The Celtics closed the first half on a 19-7 run to take their biggest halftime lead of the series. The lead grew even though Garnett and Green were on the bench for the last two minutes. Terry is playing well, surprisingly, hitting a pull-up jumper with one-tenth of a second on the clock. He also drove and dished to Bass a few minutes earlier for a baseline jumper.
Pierce and Green are humming along after shaky starts, checking in with 17 points and 15 points, respectively. Anthony is having a night to forget so far, with 16 points largely coming at the free throw line. He is 3-for-15 from the field and 10-for-11 from the line.
The Knicks are an atrocious 11-for-38 from the field. Smith’s absence certainly impacts that, but it cannot be the only reason the Knicks could not hit the broad side of a barn. The Celtics have contended better with the pick and roll than they have all series, plus the Knicks have helped out by going 2-for-10 from deep.
Second quarter, 2:04, Celtics 42-30: When Garnett went out, Green picked up the slack. Now the Celtics see if someone else can pick up the slack for Green, who also goes to the bench with three fouls.
Green is playing one of his most emotional games as a Celtic, driving to the hoop and drawing all sorts of contact. After one physical drive, his momentum took him into the crowd and he yelled at the fans, bringing out a brief ovation. Green now has 15 points, but the Celtics are going to need to survive the final minutes of the first half without both him and Garnett.
Second quarter, 5:51, Celtics 35-26: This officiating crew is not having its best game. Green almost had a conniption when he was whistled for a loose-ball foul as Pierce hauled in a rebound, on a play that looked like it was initiated by Chandler. Then they made an extremely late charging call on Anthony, bringing confused looks from several players on both teams.
In basketball-related news, Garnett picked up his third foul and needed to go to the bench. That has not been good news for the Celtics lately. Let’s see how they fare without him this time.
Second quarter, 8:51, Celtics 30-17: Forgive us for not sharing the crowd’s enthusiasm after Terry tossed a perfect alley-oop pass to Garnett for a slam. The Celtics have pushed their lead to a game-high 13 points, but they are doing it with Richardson on the floor.
Smith’s absence might be hurting the Knicks, but even if the Celtics lose this game, Smith will be back for Game 5. That means 16 points worth of bench scoring and an immediate cure to New York’s rotation problems right now.
But, hey, dunks!
End of first quarter, Celtics 22-17: It is nice that Terry is egging on the crowd, but the best way to get the fans into the game would be for him to hit a few shots.
He did drain a sweet crossover step-back jumper over Anthony, but then he and Bradley — who may be the Celtics’ worst player in the series thus far — could not hook up on what should have been a sure layup for Bradley.
Pierce has seven points, tying Anthony for the game high, but do not be very impressed with that stat. Pierce has given up at least that many points with his utter failure to play any sort of defense or box out. Kidd, 39, nearly out-jumped Pierce for an offensive rebound after Pierce just kind of drifted after a Knicks miss.
First quarter, 2:56, Celtics 18-12: As strong as the Celtics’ start was, they lead by just six points, and their offense has gotten back to the disjointed look that doomed them in the first three games. To make matters worse, Pierce just sort of looked at Steve Novak when the Knicks sharpshooter set up at the top of the key.
Novak, as he does, bottomed out the 3-pointer. If there is one rule the Celtics should follow in this series, it is not to leave Novak. Chalk that up as one of many oversights for them in the playoffs.
First quarter, 6:24, Celtics 12-5: For the third time in four tries, the Celtics are off to a hot start against the Knicks. They hit four of their first six shots, and though they cooled down a bit since, the Knicks continue to misfire.
The Celtics are playing decent defense, but the Knicks’ struggles have more to do with simple missed shots than anything the Celtics are doing. The Celtics have blanketed Anthony and shut down New York’s pick and roll so far, but Shumpert and Felton also missed wide-open jump shots that would have made this score look much different.
12:37 p.m.: Both the Celtics and Lakers are trying to fend off sweeps on Sunday, an embarrassing state for both proud franchises.
I did some digging around and found that the Celtics and Lakers have never been swept out of the first round in the same year. The last time — and only time, from what I can tell — that both teams have been swept out of the playoffs in the same year is 1983, when the Celtics got the broom in the conference semis and the Lakers got bounced in the Finals by the Sixers.
12:10 p.m.: The one-game experiment of Jason Terry in the starting lineup is over. Brandon Bass, who safely could be called the Celtics’ best player in the first two games of the series, is back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench in Game 3.
The rest of the projected starters are below.
11:50 a.m.: Not having J.R. Smith will affect the Knicks, but just how much is debatable. The Knicks have gotten plenty of production from the rest of their role players and reserves so far, so there is little reason to believe Smith’s absence will hamstring New York too much.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson declined to comment on Smith’s suspension prior to the game, but he did not seem very concerned with losing the reigning Sixth Man of the Year for one game.
“Next guy up,” Woodson said. “We’ve got James White, Quentin Richardson. [Chris Copeland's] still sitting over there. We’ll shuffle our lineup and go from there.”
Woodseon and Celtics coach Doc Rivers have played a game of one-upmanship to see who can tell the most half-truths to the media, but that one by Woody might take the cake. Everybody in the building would be shocked if White or Richardson played a major role in Game 4, including White and Richardson.
Based on how the Knicks have gone forward this year when they have had injuries or other absences to key players, expect the Knicks to go with more two-point guard looks with Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton. Also look for Iman Shumpert, who has played a lot of the three in this series, to possibly get some more minutes at shooting guard with Steve Novak taking off at the wing forward.
8 a.m. ET: The Celtics have put themselves in this situation. By failing to put together 48 minutes of solid basketball in any of the first three games of this series, the Celtics are left with a must-win Game 4 on Sunday against the Knicks.
Lose, and the summer starts early. Win, and they play again in a Game 5 on Wednesday and improve their chances of winning this series from none to slim.
J.R. Smith will not be a part of the action, as the Knicks guard was suspended a game by the NBA for intentionally elbowing Jason Terry in the face in the fourth quarter of Game 3. If the Knicks keep playing like they have been, Smith will have the best seat in the house to watch his team knock out the Celtics.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 1 p.m. ET.