Why You Can Never Count Boston Celtics out of the NBA Playoffs

Jimmy Spencer@JimmySpencerNBANBA Lead WriterMay 2, 2013

What a mistake.

Kenyon Martin had some grave advice for his teammates.

“Wear black,” the New York Knicks forward taunted before Game 5, a game that could have put the Boston Celtics away.

“Funeral colors."

Oh Martin, don’t you know? You never poke the big green bear.

The Celtics didn't just stay alive, they're rallying back in the best-of-seven opening-round series after picking up a 92-86 road victory Wednesday night.

Boston is the epitome of revival. Not just in this series, but historically as well.

Martin opened his mouth too soon. So did J.R. Smith.

Smith, who was suspended for Game 4 due to his Flagrant 2 elbow against Jason Terry in Game 3, said the series would have been over and he'd be playing golf had he not been out for the fourth game (via ESPN New York).

He was also wearing all black.

Giving added incentive to the Celtics isn’t like giving the Hulk steroids (as these Celtics are way past their flexing days), but it does provide an added boost that certainly doesn’t play in New York’s favor.

Now, emotions are running high on both sides:

As Boston now pushes New York into a tight position, it shows once again that the Celtics aren't going anywhere—it's been the story all season.

When Rajon Rondo went down, it looked like the end of an era for the KG-Pierce-Rondo trio. But no one was traded, guys like Avery Bradley and Jeff Green stepped up, and the Celtics went on to play better basketball even without their star point guard.

Celtics record prior to Rondo injury 20-23
Celtics record after Rondo injury 21-17

Green's unimaginable comeback from a 2011 aortic aneurysm is as emblematic as it gets, and his play in this series (averaging just more than 20 points per game) is just one sign that Boston won't simply roll over.

Green led the Celtics in scoring on Wednesday with 18 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting.

Boston has come this far, do you think they're just going to fold for the Knicks? No, New York actually has to beat the Celtics—and it won't be easy.

With a similar core, minus Rondo and plus Green, last season's Celtics took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals after facing an early 2-0 series deficit. Pierce and Garnett won their championship in 2008, and they haven't stopped battling since.

With the Celtics nursing a five-point lead in the final minute on Wednesday and New York gaining momentum, the 36-year-old Garnett quietly knocked down his customary elbow jumper with 48.3 seconds remaining to help seal the win. Garnett tallied 16 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in the victory.

Neither of the team's superstar veterans are done yet—not yet this year and maybe not next. Before the Celtics extended the series against the Knicks, the 35-year-old Pierce spoke candidly about his future with the only franchise he’s ever known and played for.

Said Pierce, via ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg, during Wednesday morning's shootaround:

"Well, I always said I want to end my career as a Celtic. But they're the ones -- I have a contract for next year, but it's not guaranteed. So the decision is in their hands. Whatever decisions they make, maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it can be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire a Celtic."

Certainly Pierce isn't giving up.

Knowing that two more wins—one at home and another back in New York—could result in a winnable second-round matchup against either the Indiana Pacers or Atlanta Hawks offers added motivation and momentum.

Of course, there's always the chance of one last showdown against LeBron James and the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. But this Celtics team doesn't quit. They didn't earlier this season, and they haven't in the past.

The New York Knicks have planted a seed in the Celtics' heads, and they just might be on their way to do the impossible and steal away this series.


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