Photo credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Now that's more like it.
The Boston Celtics have beaten the New York Knicks to avoid being swept in the first round of the playoffs, and have survived.
At least for now.
If there's one thing the Celtics should be able to rely on it's their own mental resilience. When Rajon Rondo picked up his season ending injury, they went out and beat the Miami Heat in overtime. This time they were in a 3-0 hole and facing elimination, and have won in overtime once again.
Just like the first three games of the series, the Celtics looked to be in control in the first half. On Sunday night in TD Garden however, control soon moved out of the way for total dominance. Suddenly the C's were closing out the quarters instead of stumbling to the end of them. They ending the first half on an impressive 9-0 run, that included a beauty of a deep three-pointer from Paul Pierce.
But would you believe it, the Celtics went and did it again.
Their seemingly unbeatable 54-35 lead at the end of the first half, was completely wrecked in the second.
Raymond Felton inflicted the most damage towards the end of the third. He scored 12 of the Knicks' 15 points in the final few minutes to put the visitors within three at the end of the quarter. It looked like it was about to happen all over again, and considering the lead the Celtics had at intermission, it would have been torture for them to go out like this.
Ultimately, the Knicks ended up losing the game themselves. They had opportunities to take the lead during the final few minutes of the fourth, but couldn't capitalize. Then in overtime, it was Jason Terry, of all people, who sank two straight shots and a couple of free throws to seal victory.
Despite it looking like an impossible task, you have to give the Celtics credit for their mental toughness. The consensus before the game was that the Celts were just going to let the game go by. Allow themselves to be put out of their misery quickly so they can withdraw and rebuild for next season.
That of course would have been the most un-Celtics thing to do.
Instead they stayed strong, and gave themselves a little boost with the defiant message that the Knicks can't come into Boston and sweep the C's. Not in their house. Not while they're still standing.
Even if this victory does just prolong the series for one more game at Madison Square Garden, it has been fun to get a little glimpse of the Celtics team that was expected to show up in the playoffs. A tough team, with a lot of endurance, that would push the Knicks to be at the top of their game, otherwise risk yet another series defeat.
Perhaps this victory will be enough to at least rattle the Knicks a little. Maybe even make them jittery enough to drop Game 5 at the Garden.
It probably wouldn't indicate a comeback, but it would be worth it for Celtics fans. At least to see the look on Spike Lee's face.