Monday, March 10, 2014
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Boston Celtics guard Jason Terry (4) exhorts the crowd to cheer during the second half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the New York Knicks in Boston, Sunday, April 28, 2013. The Celtics won 97-90 in overtime. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Felton helped take up the slack with 27 points, but Smith's perimeter shooting will put more pressure on the Celtics' defense and, perhaps, open up the lane for the Knicks' offense.
"You just don't know what the impact was" of Smith's absence, Rivers said, "but guarding one less guy can't hurt."
Smith's return may be too much for the Celtics, especially after their best players put in a very long day with 35-year-old Paul Pierce playing 49 minutes, 51 seconds and 36-year-old Kevin Garnett going 36:57. They're hoping that two days between games will be enough time for them to recover.
But the Celtics need a lot more than their veteran stars. Terry proved that on Sunday.
"He's got to be our X-factor," Pierce said. "Guys are going to load up to me, load up to Kevin, and he's got to be our X-factor and we depend on him for that."
On Sunday, the Celtics played beneath 17 NBA championship banners hanging from the rafters. Before the game, the video board above the court showed past Celtics greats — Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird and others.
Getting swept would have tarnished that tradition.
"There's just so much pride when you look around," Pierce said, "the banners, the crowd and everything going on with the Boston Celtics history."
That will be missing in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Just one more victory and the Knicks will celebrate their first playoff series win since 2000, when they reached the Eastern Conference finals. And no NBA team has ever won a series after losing the first three games.
"We played all year to get homecourt advantage and if you get one (win) on the road, that's a major plus," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We just have to go home and handle our business."