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Dressed for success: C’s force Game 6 with win in New York 05.01.13 at 9:41 pm ET
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Jeff Green and the Celtics took it to the Knicks after a slow start. (AP)

Jeff Green and the Celtics took it to the Knicks after a slow start. (AP)

NEW YORK — The Celtics are halfway home to history.

Jason Terry drilled 5-of-7 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points while Paul Pierce was 4-of-8 from long distance and added 16 as the Celtics overcame an early 11-point hole and stunned the Knicks, 92-86, Wednesday night in Game 5 at TD Garden. Game 6 is now set for Friday night at TD Garden, with the Celtics trailing, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series.

Jeff Green scored 18, Brandon Bass added 17 and Kevin Garnett hauled in 18 rebounds and hit a key jumper with under a minute left, as the Celtics became the 11th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after falling into a 3-0 hole. Only three have ever forced a Game 7 and none have ever come all the way back and won the series.

Boston finished 11-for-20 from 3-point range while the Knicks were 5-for-20 from distance.

Kenyon Martin and several Knicks arrived at Madison Square Garden wearing all black, making good on a promise to dress for what they predicted was a Celtics funeral. J.R. Smith, who announced the Knicks would’ve won Game 4 and swept the series if he weren’t suspended, missed his first 11 shots and picked up a double-technical with Terry midway through the fourth quarter. The game ended with a heated exchange involving Jordan Crawford, Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton as the two teams walked off the court.

But early on, things couldn’t have started much worse for the Celtics. They missed their first five jumpers from the floor while the Knicks raced out to an 11-0 lead.

Bass was the only Celtics player holding things together. Bass hit his first three shots while the rest of the Celtics started 0-for-8.

Trailing 15-6, Bass’ layup started a 14-7 Celtics run to end the first quarter and Boston trailed by just two, 22-20, with Bass tallying nine points.

The Knicks were clearly frustrated and borderline shaken by Boston’s ability to fight back. Martin picked up his third foul with 9:10 left in the second quarter when he delivered a tomahawk chop to Garnett. The call was initially ruled ‘Flagrant 1′ but was rescinded after video review.

The Knicks appeared to right the ship somewhat after that, opening a 32-26 lead on a Felton layup with 7:26 left. But the Celtics again responded with a fury. Pierce hit a pair of threes that sparked a 19-7 run to end the second quarter, as Boston silenced a very nervous Madison Square Garden crowd and took a 45-39 halftime lead. Garnett was big on the glass in the first half, with nine rebounds and 10 points.
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Celtics veterans support Jason Collins 04.30.13 at 4:23 pm ET
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Celtics veterans unanimously supported former teammate Jason Collins‘ decision to come out as the first openly gay player in major American sports in an autobiographical Sports Illustrated piece.

Collins told C’s coach Doc Rivers a few days ago and phoned Celtics captain Paul Pierce before the news broke on Monday morning. Rivers, Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and Jason Terry all expressed genuine happiness for Collins, and their words must reinforce the erstwhile Celtics center’s decision to come forward.

Here are the Celtics speaking about Collins in their own words:

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Tuesday practice notes: Doc Rivers treats Game 5 like another Game 7, at 2:19 pm ET
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Doc Rivers asking his team to take another Game 7 approach Wednesday. (AP)

Doc Rivers asking his team to take another Game 7 approach Wednesday. (AP)

WALTHAM — It’s a theme that began last weekend after the Game 3 loss to the Knicks. Every game the rest of the series is like Game 7. It worked in Game 4 as the Celtics won, 97-90, in overtime but the Knicks still lead the series, 3-1.

“Like I told them, what’s the difference between being down 0-3 and being in a Game 7?” Doc Rivers asked rhetorically. “It’s no different. It’s an elimination game. The difference is your mindset. In a Game 7 you’re thinking, ‘Let’s win it to win it.’ When you’re down 0-3, you never know. You may have a couple guys making vacation plans, thinking you can’t do it. It’s all about the mindset. And that’s what I told our guys before the game the other night and that will be the message still. Each game you win, it is a Game 7. If you advance, you just advance to another game instead of to the next round. That’s got to be our mindset.”

Rivers knows veterans like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry fully understand that message. The hope is that it’s filters to players like Avery Bradley and Jeff Green Wednesday night in New York.

“You know, Game 7s are all out,” Garnett said before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just what they are. They’re your last opportunity to survive and your mentality can’t be anything different. We have no pressure at this point. It should be an all-out mentality and you should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind and take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put [ourselves] in this position, and we can’t [complain] about too much.”

Did Sunday’s Game 4 OT win instill more confidence in the group as they hit the road?

“Don’t know,” Rivers answered. “I’m hoping that we had confidence to begin with, but I honestly don’t know. I think we are really looking forward to the next game.”

What was clear to Rivers and his coaching staff from watching film is that another 18 turnovers Wednesday in New York like they had on Sunday will end the season. Aside from turning the ball over, the Celtics need to repeat their offensive flow of the first half, when they shot 50 percent and built a 19-point halftime lead.

“Well, we have to repeat it,” Rivers said. “It’s clear when we play a certain way, and that’s in an attack mode, not settling offensively, moving the ball, getting in transition, we’re hard to stop. It’s also clear when we get into the half-court and slow the ball down we’re not that hard to stop and that’s obvious.”

Other nuggets from Tuesday practice from Doc Rivers:

Second chance points. Frustrating for KG? “That’s frustrating for him. And some of them were switches where we switch and Chandler is underneath with a guard. We got called for two face guard block outs, which is legal. And I think we have to explain that honestly to our official, because it doesn’t look legal and I agree with them in that, but it actually is a legal position. We’re telling our guards instead of backing up, turn around and face guard them and block them out that way. Your’e not going to get the ball, but they’re not going to either. So that’s something we’re trying to do. but their guards got a lot of rebounds too. Shumpert hurt us on the glass. Jason Kidd hurt us on the glass too. So we can’t give up the extra shots with the turnovers and the offensive rebounds and expect to win tomorrow on the road. We just can’t do that. So we have to definitely fix the turnovers first and then the rebounds second.

On admiring KG for hard work it takes to get ready? “No, people have no idea what he goes through, and you can’t unfortunately. But it really is watching him just in there now doing all the stuff that they’re doing, the stretching. He just plays because he loves it, and it’s will. A lot of guys would just not play anymore. The fact that he does and to the level that he does it, I mean he’s a rebounding machine for us right now, and we need it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jason Terry: ‘Hopefully, the floodgates will open’ for Celtics offense at 1:35 pm ET
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Jason Terry ready to take his best shot at the Knicks in Game 5. (AP)

Jason Terry ready to take his best shot at the Knicks in Game 5. (AP)

WALTHAM — For Jason Terry and the Celtics offense, the hope is that Sunday’s Game 4 is a sign that the fuse has been lit.

The veteran point guard was asked before Tuesday’s practice if his 18-point performance on Sunday in Game 4 – which included a season-saving 9-0 run at the end of overtime – is a sign that his offensive game is coming around at the right time.

“I’m just feeding off the fact that I don’t want to go home right now,” Terry said. “I feel like we have a lot of basketball left with this particular group. If we win, we get another opportunity to come back here and play another game.

“We just know that if we can score 90-plus points, we’re going to have an opportunity to win. We’ve doing a decent job defensively of holding them under their season average but offensively, we’ve struggled. We started to get a little bit of a breakthrough the last game. Hopefully, the floodgates will open and we’ll have one of those performances.”

Indeed, the Celtics scored 97 points in Sunday’s 97-90 Game 4 win, though they needed 53 minutes to reach that figure.

“It’s just staying persistent, staying in the moment and knowing every possession is critical,” Terry said. “You can’t turn the ball over. That’s been a struggle for us this series. If we don’t turn it over, we stay persistent and keep defending the way we are, we’re going to have a great chance shot to win the game.”

Is that Terry’s veteran message to other Celtics?

“This is what I’m saying,” Terry said. “This is my approach. If it feeds on to them, hopefully, it does. If it doesn’t, I still have to go out and play like that for myself to be right.”

Of course, Game 5 in New York will be a hostile environment. Some – like Kenyon Martin predicted on Monday – might call it a funeral for the Celtics season. It was Martin who suggested everyone at Madison Square Garden wear black for the occasion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kenyon Martin guarantees Celtics ‘funeral’ in Game 5 04.29.13 at 11:25 am ET
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Kevin Garnett, Kenyon Martin

Kevin Garnett and Kenyon Martin like to talk. (AP)

On his way into TD Garden on Sunday, a Celtics fan who watched his team fall into a 3-0 hole in the first round admitted, “It feels like I’m going to a wake.”

Celtics guard Jason Terry, who provided the sunshine in a Game 4 victory, must have felt it, too.

“The guy was mouthing off before the game,” Knicks forward Kenyon Martin told the New York Daily News. “He told me, ‘You’re not dancing at my funeral today.’”

Terry’s 18 points, including the C’s final nine in their 97-90 overtime win, made true on that promise. So, Martin made his own vow to lay the Celtics to rest in Game 5.

“We’re ending it Wednesday,” Martin told the Daily News, requesting his teammates “wear black. Funeral colors.”

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Paul Pierce: ‘I had a certain calmness’ about Game 4 04.28.13 at 9:17 pm ET
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Paul Pierce (here in Game 2) wouldn't let the Celtics go without a fight in Game 4. (AP)

Paul Pierce (here in Game 2) wouldn’t let the Celtics go without a fight in Game 4. (AP)

Paul Pierce wasn’t preoccupied with “what-ifs” heading into an elimination game Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. What if the Celtics lost? Could this be the last game in a Celtics uniform for the captain who is signed through next season.

“To be honest, I was calm,” Pierce said. “I had a certain calmness about the game today,” Pierce said after scoring a team-high 29 points in a 97-90 overtime win against the Knicks that kept the season alive and sent the series back to New York for Game 5 Wednesday night.

Pierce played nine seconds shy of 50 minutes on this day that his Celtics career might have ended. He didn’t want it to end like this, on his home court, blowing a 20-point third-quarter lead and missing a trademark iso shot that would’ve won the game in regulation.

“Yeah you know every game is tough in the playoffs,” Pierce said. “We had a sizable lead, but we understood that they could make a run. They’re a good team. But you know, we gotta limit their runs. We gotta be better, especially in the third quarter. That’s been our Achilles heel in this series, and so hopefully we can look to improve upon that in Game 5.”

Pride is a word that gets thrown around a lot but the Celtics showed a lot of it in the fourth quarter when the Knicks had already gotten back into the game and could sense the kill. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry rallied the troops.

“Yeah, there was a lot of pride,” Pierce said. “Us, as [leaders] of the team, we’ve got to instill it in these guys. You saw with the attitude before the game, we knew we were gonna come out with the force we did today, and it carried over into the game. And this crowd. You gotta give a hand to this crowd. They really gave us a boost. Everytime I look up there, you feel it, you see it, you hear it; there’s just so much pride when you look around, the banners, the crowd and everything going on with the Boston Celtics history.”

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Doc Rivers on Jason Terry: ‘He brings sunshine’ at 6:24 pm ET
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Doc Rivers knew Jason Terry was fired up and still ticked off from the J.R. Smith elbow on Friday night late in Game 3.

That fire and determination paid huge dividends on Sunday in a 97-90 overtime, season-saving win at TD Garden. Terry drained the go-ahead three with 1:32 left in overtime, as he scored the final nine points of Game 4.

Was it the elbow that Smith threw that got him fired up?

“He was definitely vocal,” Rivers said. “Someone said it [Saturday]; maybe that elbow – who knows? [Terry] said it changed the events for all of us. Definitely Jason Terry was angry that it happened. He let his teammates know yesterday and today. But he’s just a fighter. I’ve told you that before. You know, I didn’t know him until this year and I said it the other day: he’s just one of those guys you want around your team, whether he’s playing or not. He brings sunshine. There’s guys – I would say probably most of you guys, you bring those dark clouds every time I see you – a couple of you don’t. But the sunshine-bringers, that’s who you want. And Jason Terry is one of those guys.”

Terry scored 18 points in 41 minutes off the Boston bench, both playoff highs so far.

“He was great,” Rivers said. “You know, that’s what he does. He’s made so many big shots in his career; you knew in transition…It’s amazing, you know, you guys don’t get to see it but when you watch all the guys, and not just Jason Terry, but when you watch them practice on the floor on their own, they work on certain shots. And that’s the shot, that transition three is something he works on all the time. And you knew once he got it what he was going to do. I thought it was interesting when you watch the play, I thought Jason Kidd knew it too. Because you could see him coming from the basket, from them playing with each other. So it was a big shot. And the other shot he made was big as well. So, that’s what he does. That’s good.”

Rivers said the go-ahead three wasn’t the only huge shot Terry made in his 9-0 run.

“Yeah, yeah, but the five were big,” Rivers said. “The three, and the two off the pick, those were huge. I’ll take all of them, but the five, they were huge.”

Here is the rest of Doc Rivers’ postgame press conference from Sunday.
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