The 2013 NBA Playoffs resumed as the New York Knicks traveled to play the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of their first-round series. New York entered this game with a 3-0 advantage but were without Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith due to his one-game suspension.
The Celtics capitalized on Smith's absence, defeating the Knicks by a score of 97-90 in a thrilling overtime contest.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 29 points, while Jeff Green tallied 26 and Kevin Garnett went for 13 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. On the opposite side, Carmelo Anthony was shut down for most of this game, making just 3 of his first 14 shots, eventually tallying 36 points on 10-of-35 shooting.
By comparison, Raymond Felton finished with 27 points of his own on 10-of-21 shooting.
So how did this game transpire?
Neither team was dominant during the first quarter, as both squads paired quality offensive possessions with wasted attempts. With Anthony coming to life, however, it appeared as if the Celtics' 22-17 lead was far from safe.
And then Brandon Bass, Pierce and Green shut him down.
The Celtics came out firing during the second quarter, attacking the basket and playing physical defense on 'Melo and the Knicks. Bass locked Anthony down, and Green shouldered the scoring load, draining jumpers and finishing at the rim.
This resulted in Anthony finishing the first half at 3-of-14 shooting and the Celtics pulling away to own a 54-35 lead.
Unfortunately for Boston, their physical play caught up with them as Green, Garnett and Bass all fell into foul trouble. With those players out, the Knicks realized what they needed to do and thus stepped up in a major way.
They stopped running ISO through Anthony and began to move the ball around the perimeter. As a result, they outscored Boston by a margin of 30-14 in the third quarter.
Raymond Felton led the charge, scoring 16 points during the third period alone. That includes a buzzer-beating three to bring the Knicks to within three entering the fourth quarter.
Suddenly, it went from a 20-point Celtics lead to a 68-65 contest.
During the fourth quarter, the Knicks nearly took full control as Pablo Prigioni stole an errant pass and went for a lay-up off glass. Terrence Williams came out of nowhere for a chase down block, however, and the Celtics remained in control.
Both teams made huge defensive stops, and neither built lasting offensive momentum. Pierce and Carmelo got into a shootout, keeping this game tied until the 1:17 mark.
At that time, it was Felton striking with another jump shot to give New York an 84-82 lead. Seconds later, Pierce hit Garnett for an open jump shot to tie it at 84-84.
After the Knicks came up short on an attempt to take the lead, it was Celtics ball with 18.0 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, Pierce missed a game-winner from above the break.
With 0.4 seconds remaining, the Knicks' inbound pass was tipped by Chris Wilcox, and we went to overtime.
Celtics and Knicks are heading to OT at the Garden, tied at 84-84. Pierce has 27, Melo has 32. KG: 11 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 28, 2013
It was no shock that Pierce opened up the first overtime period with a jumper, and Garnett made the first defensive stop and subsequent rebound.
Following Pierce's heroics was Felton, who continued playing his best basketball of the season by dropping in two off glass. To counter, Pierce hit Garnett for a long two and this back-and-forth affair continued.
Would we have it any other way?
Two free throws from Anthony tied us at 88-88 with less than two minutes remaining. With 1:32 on the clock, Jason Terry reminded us why the Celtics acquired him in the first place.
A clutch three, a 91-88 lead and a sight reminiscent of the 2011 NBA Finals.
'Melo came back with a gorgeous contested jumper but was countered by yet another jumper by Terry. With a 93-90 lead, Terry drew a loose ball foul, headed to the line and drained two free throws.
With a transition lay-up, Terry capped off a nine-point overtime period to secure a 97-90 win for the Celtics and bring this series to a 3-1 count.
During the third quarter, the Boston Celtics went up by as many as 20 points over their rival New York Knicks. As a result, there was likely a strong portion of people watching at home that turned to another channel for something more competitive.
If you turned off Knicks/Celtics when it was 20-point game, you may want to turn it back on. Knicks have cut the lead down to 3!— Dime Magazine (@DimeMag) April 28, 2013
And what a game it turned out to be.
There are some who will view the recap and analysis of this game as unnecessary Carmelo Anthony bashing. The truth of the matter is, when 'Melo is on, he's one of the best this league has to offer.
Today, however, he was off, and the Knicks made their comeback without him—that's the difference between ISO ball and team play.
Knicks outscored the Celtics 14-3 after Carmelo Anthony went to the bench with 4 fouls— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 28, 2013
For those keeping track, the Knicks had been trailing 65-51 with 'Melo having shot 6-of-21 when he was taken out.
Truth be told, the Knicks' monstrous comeback was not the most surprising aspect of the game. Instead, it was the crowd that took us all by surprise.
Despite playing in Boston, it appeared as if the crowd was favoring the Knicks.
"New-York-Knicks" chants just drowned out "Let's-Go-Celtics" chants at the TD Garden. Seriously.— Greg Payne (@GregPayne_ESPN) April 28, 2013
Stunning, to say the least.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but that didn't stop the Twittersphere from chiming in on what could have been. That, of course, was questioning whether or not the Celtics made the right defensive decision in terms of substituting in the proper personnel.
The Courtney Lee vs. Jason Terry debate rages on.
Wonder if the Celtics could have used a bit of Courtney Lee's defense over JET in the third when Boston was up 20 points...— James Toscano (@Jimmy_Toscano) April 28, 2013
The results suggest Lee was the better man to bring in.
With 4:47 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Celtics did something that they hadn't done all series. This might sound like a great achievement, but it had to do with something they're expected to do every time out.
Top 80 points.
First time the Celtics score more than 80 points in the series. Now can they win?— Zuri Berry (@zuriberry) April 28, 2013
Surprisingly, they did.
The stars of the game were Boston's Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Kevin Garnett. On the opposite end, Raymond Felton nearly willed the Knicks to victory with his smooth jump shooting.
When it came to the overtime period, however, it was all about Jason Terry.
Jason Terry turned on the jets in overtime.Terry scored 9 of Boston's 13 points in the extra frame as the C's hold on for the win.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) April 28, 2013
How's that for finally discovering your groove?