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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 The call was initially ruled ‘Flagrant 1′ but was rescinded after video review.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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Game 5 pregame notes: Doc Rivers says ‘I want to be part of’ making NBA history at 5:53 pm ET
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Doc Rivers will urge his team to focus possession by possession in Game 5. (AP)

Doc Rivers will urge his team to focus possession by possession in Game 5. (AP)

NEW YORK — Doc Rivers had a prediction of his own Wednesday night, less than an hour before Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. Reminded that the Celtics have erased historic deficits in the past, such as being down 2-0 and 3-1. But neither they nor any NBA team in history has come all the way back from 3-0 down to win an NBA playoff series.

How appropriated would it be for the Celtics to be the first?

“I think so,” Rivers said. “I think that would be wonderful, and someone’s going to do it, and I want it to be us since that’s the situation we’re in. But someone will do it and I really want to be a part of that.”

But that’s where the talk and statement-making ends for Rivers.

Kenyon Martin made good on a prediction that he would have players show up in all black for the Celtics’ funeral Wednesday, all players arrived in black suits and ties. Asked for a reaction to the Knicks showing up in their dressing room all wearing back, Rivers fired back, “So did I.”

The playoffs have always been putting actions before words.

Rivers knows this better than anyone. He knows when teams talk like the Knicks did after Game 4, that’s usually a sign of immaturity and sometimes panic.

So, when asked if he thinks at all about what the series would be like if the Celtics had Rajon Rondo, Rivers used the chance to jab back at the Knicks.

“I don’t think that,” Rivers said of Rondo’s absence and the role in the series. “I don’t use that as a reason. Just like the Knicks probably shouldn’t use that the reason we won was because J.R. Smith didn’t play. But they did.

“That’s what they should do. I hope they expend it all. I don’t really care. We just have to come out ready to play. They’re at home, they’re going to try and feed off their crowd and all that but at the end of the day, it’s going to be between the lines. It’s not going to be what anybody out in the crowd says or does. It’s going to be between the lines.”

Reminded of his one-game-at-a-time mentality heading into another elimination game, Rivers added, “We have no choice. We need to go one possession at a time, really. It’s what you really need to do in the playoffs. To be really great, you need to be one possession at a time.”

More from Rivers shootaround and pregame:

On Jeff Green‘s emergence as a go-to scorer: “I’ve got a feeling they probably went to Durant in Oklahoma City. At Georgetown, he was the guy. He got them to the Final Four. He’s been there before.”

“If he plays well, he will. If he doesn’t, then he’ll do it again next year. If he plays well [next year], then that will be. I don’t try to put too much on any one game or one series. He’s so young, he has a long career. The sooner he gets it going, the better for everybody.”

On whether Green is back to full strength after heart surgery: “I don’t know about this surgery. It’s usually ankles, knees and things like that. I don’t know is the answer. I would say usually in that case but it’s not anything I’m thinking about right now, to be honest. It’s not my concern or thought.”

On what experience in playoffs means: “The playoffs are the best tool of teaching you can use for all the players. Even the veterans learn in the playoffs because you really do understand that every possession matters in a game and not the last possession when you decide to focus on that and then you realize it’s too late.

I think everybody, even the guys who aren’t playing a lot, they see it, they see the intensity that if you want to be great, that you have to play at, consistently.

On Avery Bradley, his struggles and his matchup this series with Raymond Felton: “I think it spills over to the defense at times. You’re human. If you’re not making shots and you’re getting down on that, that takes away energy from you, on both ends. I think overall, he’s fighting through it. I think he’s coming out of it. He made his first shot the other night [in Game 4] and didn’t make another one. But he made his first shot. More importantly, I didn’t think he hesitated on any of the other shots. That’s all we want him to do. For us, he’s our defensive player. The offense will come.”

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Wednesday shootaround: Kevin Garnett not paying attention to Knicks’ ‘shenanigans’ at 12:53 pm ET
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The focus was on Kevin Garnett and Celtics Wednesday morning before Game 5 in New York. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The focus was on Kevin Garnett and Celtics Wednesday morning before Game 5 in New York. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

NEW YORK — No one knows trash talking like Kevin Garnett.

He also knows how to tune it out like no one else, or at least not feed into publicly.

J.R. Smith said there wouldn’t be a Game 5 Wednesday night in New York if he had not been suspended for Game 4, while Kenyon Martin is suggesting black formal wear at Madison Square Garden for the Celtics’ funeral.

“I have not paid attention to none of the shenanigans,” Garnett said before Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.

Garnett says he knows what it will take to be successful in Game 5 — taking one possession at a time and not getting overwhelmed by New York’s tenacious defense.

“It’s not that hard, to be honest,” Garnett said of the approach. “Taking one possession at a time is something you have to be conscious of, not individually but as a group. Understanding each possession and what it means, the importance of that possession. Small things are what’s going to make this a do-or-die type of game.

“I think it’s more, not for us to [instill] doubt, but it’s important to show some type of barrier, if not willingness, in this whole game. We know we’re playing on the road and we know they play really well here. I think the important thing is not to get down, to come out with some fire and play throughout with that fire.”

Garnett appreciates some of the fire on the Celtics bench in the form of Rajon Rondo. Garnett said he’s been huge in helping Avery Bradley and Terrence Williams while being an extra pair of eyes for him and Paul Pierce in the post.

“More importantly, he’s talking to Avery, T-Will, the guys who play the point guard position, Paul and I about opportunity and being aggressive, giving the coaching staff a perspective. Doe is a very smart guy, very high IQ when it comes to a lot of different things. He’s giving his take on what he sees out there as far as where he’s at. But more importantly being a safety net for Avery right now. Avery goes through periods where it’s difficult. It’s going to happen. We’ve all been young before. Just being like a security blanket for Avery and anyone else who needs it.”

Garnett has 34 rebounds in the last two games. What has been the secret to his success?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t really [put] thought into it, to be honest. A lot of rebounding is timing. Tyson [Chandler] and I, Kenyon and I are down there battling for the ball. It’s not one or two things that go into it, nor would I like to share, but the things that I have been doing are working for me and I’m going to stick with it.

“You don’t have a choice whether you like it or not. It’s whether you adapt or not. If you don’t adapt, you know what end you end up on, and I don’t want to end up on that end.”

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Paul Pierce reminds Celtics that his future is in ‘their hands’ at 11:47 am ET
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Will Paul Pierce be back in Boston next season? (AP)

Will Paul Pierce be back in Boston next season? (AP)

NEW YORK — The reality could hit soon and very hard for Paul Pierce and the Celtics if Boston doesn’t win Game 5 here at Madison Square Garden.

Reminded at the Wednesday morning shootaround that he is entering the final year of his current contract next season and could be playing his last game in a Celtics uniform, Pierce was philosophical.

“I’ve always been a guy who says things happen for a reason,” Pierce said. “I was a No. 10 [overall] pick [in 1998]. I did not anticipate that. I just always feel like through my whole career things everything is going to fall into the right place for me. So, I really don’t give much thought until after the season. But I know, at the end of the day, whatever I do, whatever they do, it’s going to fall into the right place for me.”

Pierce is signed through next season for just over $15.3 million but it is not guaranteed. Pierce is aware that the team could trade him in the offseason if the Celtics want to clear space, and if another team acquires him and then dumps the contract.

“I’ve always said that I want to end my career as a Celtic but they are the ones [who decide],” Pierce said. “I have a year contract for next year but it’s not guaranteed so the decision is in their hands. But, whatever they decision they make… Maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it could be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire as a Celtic.

“Right now, it’s just year-by-year. I expect to play another year next year and then evaluate after that.”

Meanwhile, Pierce isn’t worried about what the Knicks are saying either. Reminded that Kenyon Martin suggested black formal wear to Game 5 for the Celtics’ funeral, Pierce responded, “No reaction. It’s basketball. I’m not going to be dead after the game.”

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Kevin Garnett: ‘Haven’t given any thought to next year’ 04.30.13 at 2:44 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Asked if he’s allowed himself to think what might become of these Celtics if they return a healthy Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger next season, Kevin Garnett wouldn’t take the bait.

“I haven’t given any thought to next year,” he said. “I’m just trying to focus on this game coming up.”

Those injuries left the Celtics scrambling to sign the China trio of Terrence Williams, Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White in addition to trading for Jordan Crawford. As a result, the team’s inability to set a rotation entering Game 5 of their first-round series against the Knicks hasn’t come as a surprise to Garnett.

“Our team was formed a little late, so we’ve been behind the 8-ball, if you will, as far as chemistry and just trying to make sure everything is always coming together on a consistent basis,” said KG. “That’s not easy to do, so, no, it doesn’t surprise me that we’re still in those stages.”

Still, Garnett doesn’t make excuses. As usual, he spoke in truths prior to Tuesday’s practice.

“We have no pressure at this point,” he said. “It should be an all-out mentality, and we should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind. We’ll take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put ourselves in this position. We can’t be moaning about it too much.”

Garnett is averaging 11.3 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a block in 33.0 minutes in the series.

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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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Jeff Green: ‘Playoffs are where players are made’ at 2:00 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Has Jeff Green considered that Game 5 might be the final time we see Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce in a Celtics uniform? “I have not,” Green said before Tuesday’s practice.

Kevin Garnett‘s mantra following the C’s Game 4 victory in Boston — “all out from here on out” — seems to be permeating throughout the locker room, if only because they have no other choice.

“We have to bring it,” said Green, who brings a playoff average of 20.8 points into Wednesday’s Game 5. “That’s the only way we have a chance to win the game. We’ve just got to play all out.”

The Celtics have had their share of issues against the Knicks, but Green hasn’t been one of them. He’s averaging 5.8 boards, 2.3 assists and a block per game while recording a true shooting percentage of 55.

“I’ve been working hard,” said Green. “The playoffs are where players are made, and hopefully people are starting to take notice of what I can do, but it is what it is. I know what I can do. I could care less what other people think. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just trying to win games for my team.”

If only so he doesn’t have to answer any more questions about Garnett or Pierce.

But he’ll still have to answer plenty of questions about everything else. Here are his answers:

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