It took them a while — more than 16 quarters to be exact — but the Boston Celtics finally registered their first victory in the opening round of their 2013 postseason campaign. The overtime victory over the New York Knicks hasn’t exactly boosted their NBA odds, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Any other direction would’ve been entirely wrong. Down three games to zero, susceptible to being swept altogether and never looking particularly threatening at either Madison Square Garden or TD Garden, the Celtics needed the Game 4 win as a sign of life. Lethargy and fatigue, it seemed, had come to define the veteran ball club and lined up against a fiery Knicks club, that spelled disaster.
There’s a reason that New York has 14-1 odds of winning the NBA championship, even after Game 4 — compared to Boston’s dreary 250-1 mark — and the quality of their roster is only half of it. Through the first three games of the first round, the Knicks have appeared scrappier, more energetic and considerably more determined than their Boston counterparts.
The C’s have had no answer for Carmelo Anthony, one of basketball’s purest scorers firing on all cylinders, or the depth to match New York’s bench and the seemingly infinite combination of competent lineups Mike Woodson is capable of fielding.
Through four, Boston has been led by veteran Paul Pierce, whose 21.3 points per game have kept the Celtics remotely competitive. Forward Jeff Green trails Pierce on the list with an admirable 20.8 mark of his own.
Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry have cracked double digits for the C’s, but neither has been influential enough to help their club gather some momentum. Without Garnett functioning as an inside presence, and without Terry providing the acute offensive bursts he came to be associated with as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, the Celtics may be short-staffed.
It certainly appeared that way until the series traveled from New York to Boston. Now that it’s on its way back, can Pierce, Green, Garnett and Terry prove that they’re not only capable of, but hungry enough and determined enough to fight their way into the Eastern Conference semifinals?
Strange things tend to happen in the NBA postseason. Stranger yet when veterans as time-tested and decorated as these Boston Celtics come into the picture.