BOSTON -- In a game they had to have, the Boston Celtics came out with a passion and aggression that we had not seen from them in the playoffs thus far. They beat the New York Knicks 97-90 in game four of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Sunday.
With J.R. Smith suspended for hitting Jason Terry in the face with his elbow in game three, New York found themselves searching for a second scorer to go along with Carmelo Anthony.
Boston's Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had that look in their eye on Sunday. The two veterans had a never-say-die mentality going into the game, and it showed; they were not going to lose this game.
The first quarter was an impressive one for Boston. They held New York to just 14 points, while they scored 22 points. The Knicks also had 12 turnovers in the first half (a season-high in a half). The ball movement was good for the Celtics. They were passing to the open man, and getting open shots. Jeff Green was feeling it, and went at the Knicks on offense. Brandon Bass played exceptional defense on Anthony, holding him to just 13 points (3-12 FGM-A) in the first half. The Celtics had not been able to shut Anthony down before that point in the entire series.
Jason Terry, who clearly still had some animosity from game three, hit a shot in Anthony's face, and then proceeded to talk smack at him. The quarter was capped off with Terry throwing a perfect alley-oop-pass to Garnett, who then slammed it home.
The half continued with more fantastic defense from the Celtics. It began to get chippy, and Boston's head coach Doc Rivers found himself having to sit Garnett down with three fouls. The officials called everything in the second quarter. Almost all fouls were called. Green finished the half with 15 points, and continued his aggression. The half was ended by the Celtics hitting a shot, then Avery Bradley getting a steal. He then passed to Pierce for a three-point-shot, and Terry hit a two-point-shot with .1 seconds left.
At the end of the half, Boston led New York 54-35. This was by far the best start the Celtics have had in the series so far.
The second half, like the first three games, is where Boston started to lose focus.
Garnett picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and had to sit down once again. The Knicks moved the ball better, and passed much more than they did in the first half. Bass picked up his fifth foul, so he, along with Garnett, had to sit down. Pierce had a strong quarter. He took a charge from Anthony, and blocked Iman Shumpert. Felton and Anthony were the story in the third quarter. Felton scored 16 points, while Anthony finally got it going, scoring eight points.
The fourth quarter brought on a different game. Boston's Jordan Crawford and Terrence Williams started out in the game. Every
Every possession was tight, and well defended. No shot was easy for either team. Bass picked up his sixth foul, and fouled out of the game. With the game tied at 84-84, it was Pierce's time to shine. He got the ball, and went to work. Garnett came up to set a pick for him, and Tyson Chandler switched on to Pierce. Pierce dribbled for a few seconds, pulled up, and hit the front of the rim as time expired. This game went into overtime.
The game was still extremely close, until there was about two minutes left. Then, Terry went off. He hit a transition-three-point-shot, a fade-away two-point-shot, and then two free-throws. In New York's last possession of the game, Felton missed a long three-point-shot, Anthony missed a three-pointer, and then Terry started running towards the other hoop. Garnett grabbed the rebound off the Anthony-miss, and threw it down to Terry at the other end of the court. Terry layed the ball in, and the game was over.
New York had three players in double-figures, while Boston had four. Anthony scored a game-high 36 points, but also had seven turnovers. Felton scored 27 points and also grabbed four rebounds. Shumpert scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Pierce scored 29 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and had six assists. Green scored 26 points and grabbed six rebounds. Garnett scored 13 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds. Terry scored 18 points off-the-bench, and he was the hero in this game.
Game five will be back in New York, in Madison Square Garden, on Wednesday, May 1st. The Celtics will look to continue their strong-showing from game four, and push the series to 2-3.
Tonight: Celtics Post Game Show - immediately following the game