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Celtics forced Game 5, but can they really win it?

May 1, 2013, 2:23 PM EDT

New York Knicks Anthony reacts after a foul was called during NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff basketball series against the Boston Celtics in Boston Reuters

J.R. Smith said that if he had played in Game 4, this series would have been a sweep. Argue that if you want — quantum physics tells us there are alternate universes where he plays and the Knicks both and lose.

We all care about this timeline, where Smith is back for Game 5 at Madison Square Garden Wednesday after serving a one-game suspension for throwing an elbow to Jason Terry’s jaw. And his return to play in a spot he’s comfortable is one of several reasons to expect the Knicks, already up 3-1 in the series, will win Game 5 handily and close it out, then get some rest waiting for the Pacers and Hawks to figure out who is better.

Boston had success in Game 4 because they forced the Knicks to become one dimensional — a whole lot of Carmelo Anthony and not much else, then Brandon Bass did a good job of making life difficult for ‘Melo (10-of-35 shooting). On the other end of the floor, Jeff Green and Jason Terry stepped up with good offensive games for Boston.

The blueprint remains the same for Boston, it’s just going to be a lot harder to pull off Wednesday.

With Smith back on the court, the Knicks will have other scoring options, for one. Also, expect a better game from Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler, playing the pick-and-roll and providing more challenges for the Celtics defense. The bottom line is role players tend to play better on their home court and the Knicks become harder to guard when those guys are comfortable.

Along the same lines, it’s harder to picture the inconsistent Green and Terry stepping up again on the road in Game 5. It can happen, it’s just less likely.

The Celtics are going to have to survive an early push from the Knicks — they will come out with some fire early, trying to put this thing away. Boston’s offense has been anemic most of this series and they are not going to be able to dig out of a big hole.

It’s not impossible; the Celtics could win this game. You know Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will not go quietly, you know Boston can defend. They won Game 4 with a lot of pride and that isn’t going away.

But the Knicks are the better team in this series and I expect we’ll see that from the opening tip Wednesday night.

  1. misterdreamer119 - May 1, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Its so over. I feel embarrassed watching how old and weak paul pierce looks.

  2. 1historian - May 1, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    “Celtics forced game 5, but can they really win it?”

    No

    Next question

    • jcmeyer10 - May 1, 2013 at 9:43 PM

      How about them Celtics

  3. mazblast - May 1, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    I’m sure that Boston fans are going around thinking and talking about 2004. However, just because it happened one time in another sport almost a decade ago doesn’t mean it will happen again here.

    The Knicks need to take the Spurs’ approach to the Lakers–Kick ‘em early, kick ‘em often, give them no hope.

  4. supremekingz - May 1, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    The answer is not no, it’s Hell No. They’re lucky it went to game 5. The C’s are finished. They need to destroy and rebuild. That team won’t have what it takes to compete for a ring for at least another 2-3 years

  5. senorpapino - May 1, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    This ends tonight. Carmelo has a terrible shooting night, JR Smith is out, the Celtics have a 20 point lead, and still it took overtime to win 1 game at home. I think this is the last hurrah for the C’s as currently constructed.

  6. mungman69 - May 1, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    Knicks in five.

    • sun602 - May 1, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      ^^ Now there’s a bold prediction…

  7. bjoe23 - May 1, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    According to you the Celtics had no chance of winning game 4. All these negative articles about them and shortsighted comments don’t matter, they have the heart of a champion and anything can happen.

    • mazblast - May 1, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      They may have “the heart of a champion” (what a cliché), but do they have the bodies to do anything?

      • andyhr17 - May 1, 2013 at 10:15 PM

        If you watched the game tonight, then you know the answer is yes.

    • scalfor3 - May 1, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      Don’t mind Kurt, he’s been trying to declare that the Celtics are “done” for the last four years. (He’s also a Lakers fan)

  8. jdvalk - May 1, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Love JR talking tough in the coulda-woulda realm while ignoring that if Rondo woulda played, Game 4 and all the other games would have different outcome as well.

  9. jdvalk - May 1, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Also love Knicks fans talking tough about anything, especially an opening round opponent without their most impactful performer on the court. Any of you actually seen a Knicks title winner in person? Oops, that leaves out just about all of the under FIFTY crowd, tough talkers…

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      And yet what we say is still accurate. Save your keystrokes next time.

      • infectorman - May 1, 2013 at 7:49 PM

        you mean like that time you said Boston wouldn’t win a single game before the series started?

        right. ok. Knicks fans. Always accurate. Got it, thanks

    • theghostofwillisreed - May 1, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      because the knicks aren’t missing amare stoudemire… love knick haters who cherry-pick arguments.

  10. Mr. Wright 212 - May 1, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Stern fixed it so that they had a chance to go out in Boston with some dignity. Knicks win by 24 tonight.

    • kinggw - May 1, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      Awesome prediction.

    • jcmeyer10 - May 1, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      Yah, how about that. The real Carmelo and JR show up. If it wasn’t for Felton, the Knicks would be the ones looking around for their dignity.

  11. kjereld615 - May 1, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Wow there are a lot of Knicks fans commenting on this article and not enough Celtics fans. This whole thing about JR not playing caused the Knicks to lose is dumb. The head coach thought so, that’s why he even said he wasn’t going to blame the loss on that single factor. When Rondo, Sullinger, and Barbosa went down we did not blame our following losses on losing them. When a player goes down, or cannot play for whatever reason, then the players you have must step up. Felton did that, however Melo picked a bad game to go cold. The Celtics will make this game competitive, I mean they have a lot of chalk board material to get fired up for thanks to JR and K-Mart. I, as a Celtics fan, will not give up on the Celtics, even when the situation before us looks bleak. Until the clock hits 0.0 its Celtics in 7. If I can’t have faith in my own team then who will?

    • supremekingz - May 1, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      Face it.

      The C’s are done. Bring back all of those players on your injury list and you’re still not competing for a title. You’re old and washed up. Even with the tragedy in Boston giving the team extra incentive to play hard, they still don’t have enough. Your group of old guys keep falling apart in the 2nd half. KG is resorting to playground tactics to gain a competitive advantage, and even when Rondo was there your team still was mediocre.

      Face it. It’s over. This team will be blown up over the Summer and you’ll start from scratch. Ray Allen is laughing at you

      • kjereld615 - May 1, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Your opinion is yours and a popular one at that, however in a season where we had so many new pieces joining our team for the first time such as Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Barbosa, Jason Collins, Jamal Crawford, and Jared Sullinger we were bound to hit rough patches. Not to mention Jeff Green hadn’t played all but a few games last year so this was like his first real season on the Celtics as well. We were losing a lot of games, but eventually we began hitting our stride when we normally do, near the All-Star Break. Then Rondo went down. Our play maker, our aggressive speedy PG was gone and we had no one to fill his shoes. So we shuffled the line up. Players were, and still are, playing roles they are not fit to be playing. Then we lost Sullinger, our top rebounder, followed by Barbosa, who, prior to his injury, filled the shoes of Rondo by being the only player who could get to the rack other than Pierce. We traded Collins and Barbosa for Crawford, who has played well for us, but we had become a shell of the team we started the season off with. However we still managed to make the playoffs. We are a beaten and battered team, but we are not broken and we are not “done.” We’ve been knocked down time after time after time, but we keep getting up. Is there a high possibility we lose tonight, yes, but The Celtics only need that small margin of hope that meager 5% chance of victory, to be able to pull off an upset. The Celtics are not a team to underestimate. They proved that last year against the Heat when they took them to 7 and they may just as well prove it again tonight. We shall see.

      • packfaninvikeland - May 1, 2013 at 10:38 PM

        So now that they won, what will you say now? Why do you bash teams who do their best to produce winning product? Obviously there us little to no chance they get to the finals let alone win it this year.. but why do you have to downplay them so much and so confidently?? I dont understand the hate.. help me understand your hate..You can still enjoy NBA basketball without bashing a good team every chance you get. Dont understand people like you..

  12. theghostofwillisreed - May 1, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    when did jamal crawford join the celtics?

    real celtics fans would know which crawford is on their team via a trade with the wizards…

    • kjereld615 - May 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      Damn, you got me. Jordan Crawford* a foolish mistake, agreed, but we are entitled to them once and a while.

  13. infectorman - May 1, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    What your average Knicks fan fails to realize, is that the Knicks ain’t all that.

    coming in 2nd place in a weak eastern conference doesn’t make you a force type team. Anthony can’t play in the flow of a game. He is a one on one player. And if he doesn’t get to have his shots he pouts. Hard to get behind a guy like that.

    Miami will mop the floor with them, if they even get that far, which is maybe a 50/50 shot deal.

    So Knicks fans, you can stop acting like your squad is the 2nd coming of the late 80′s Pistons.

  14. bjoe23 - May 1, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Where you at Knicks fans?

  15. jcmeyer10 - May 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Hey Kurt, keep writing these articles. I think it’s good luck.

    Knicks fans, hope you had fun at our funeral.

  16. halfbaht - May 1, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Mr Wright 212 what’s your excuse now? Celtics took it too you IN YO HOUSE!

    • drewzducks - May 1, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      Don’t you mean Mr.Smith3-13 ?

  17. bucrightoff - May 1, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Apparently the answer is yes.

  18. paulhargis53 - May 1, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Youd think tonight’s game would shut up the Knicks fans… but I doubt it.

    Mr. Hardly Right….Knicks by 24 huh…genius.

  19. deadeyedesign23 - May 1, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    “quantum physics tells us there are alternate universes where he plays and the Knicks both and lose”

    There’s also a universe where you can type a coherent sentence.

  20. andyhr17 - May 1, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    No. No possible way the Celtics can win the game…wait a minute….Most of these comments say there is no way the Celtics will win, yet I SWEAR i just watched the Celts kick their @ss on their home court. Let the excuses, backtracking, and trash talking continue.

  21. bigwii - May 2, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    The Celtics won’t win for a couple years? Yet they will have Rondo, Sullinger, Green (who took off in the second have and should be even better next year be just needs to get more aggressive), Bradley, all young and have a lot of potential.

    They will have to make tough decisions and trade Pierce who said he’d accept a trade and will even sign a one day deal to retire a Celtic because he knows it’s best for the franchise.

    KG will probably retire or get amnestied if that happens then they will have cap space to go get Al Jefferson and also will have room to add another player around 7 million a year.

    The Celtics have a lot of options and they will have more than enough to compete for a title with a lineup with Rondo, Jefferson, Green, Sully, and Bradley. They are better off than people think.

    Bradley is only 22 and Sully is only 20 and they both played really good this year. Statistically they were very efficient they just don’t play real flashy so no one knows how good they are.

    If they win or not hopefully Danny has the balls to do what needs to be done they have a lot of options but if they keep Pierce and KG than yeah they won’t do much.

    As a Celtic fan I would rather take the billets straight to the head and cut ties with them now while they have value to contenders, than to keep them around and bleed out.

    This should of already happened but Danny kept them because he couldn’t pull the trigger which, was what he said he would never do hopefully he does this summer for the sake of the franchise.

    The might win they might not but it shouldn’t affect what they do this offseason.

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