April 29, 2013

Celtics hoping revived offense has life in Game 5

The Associated Press

BOSTON — It started with a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley 16 seconds into the game. It ended with a layup by Jason Terry with 6.5 seconds left.

click image to enlarge

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)

Yes, the Boston Celtics finally got their offense going.

"It's coming," Terry said. "You can feel it."

It was there on Sunday — for much of the game, anyway — when the Celtics beat the New York Knicks 97-90 in overtime to avoid being swept in the opening round of the playoffs.

But if it's not there on Wednesday night in New York, the Celtics will have a very tough time forcing a sixth game Friday night in Boston.

The Celtics scored fewer than 20 points in six of the first 10 quarters in the series. They managed a meager eight points in the fourth quarter of the opener — one less than Terry scored by himself in the last 1:32 of overtime on Sunday. They scored 78, 71 and 76 points in the first three games after scoring fewer than 80 just five times during the regular season.

"We've got a lot of basketball in us," Terry said, "but there's always something like one quarter that holds us back. So if we can put together four quarters of great Celtics basketball, ball movement, getting out in transition, then this series is going to be a long one."

The Celtics made 51.3 percent of their shots in the first half Sunday after averaging 39.5 during the first three games. But they dropped to 25 percent (4 for 16) in the third quarter when the Knicks cut a 59-39 deficit to 68-65 entering the fourth.

And they finished with just three offensive rebounds — and only two second-chance points — in 53 minutes. The Knicks got five offensive rebounds from Tyson Chandler and four from Iman Shumpert.

But Boston managed to win when New York's own shooting woes continued in overtime with only two field goals in eight attempts. Carmelo Anthony hit just one of four shots in overtime and finished at 10 for 25, despite leading all scorers with 36 points.

"We didn't shoot the ball well," Anthony said, "and we still put ourselves in a position to win the basketball game. There's an upside to that."

The downside for him was the Celtics' defense, particularly that of Brandon Bass. Before fouling out with 4:27 left in the fourth quarter, he guarded Anthony tightly, contested shots and kept the NBA's leading playoff scorer from getting hot. Anthony missed all seven of his 3-pointers and got 16 of his 36 points on free throws.

Boston coach Doc Rivers praised Bass' performance.

"He was the star of the game," Rivers said. "He just defended and did it over and over and over again."

The Knicks got back in the game after Anthony picked up his fourth foul with New York trailing 65-51 with 3:35 left in the third quarter. With Anthony on the bench, Raymond Felton scored 11 points in a 14-3 run that cut the deficit to 68-65.

"The fact that we came back from a 20-point deficit in that building shows a lot about our team," Felton said.

When they get to their own building, they'll have their second leading scorer back. J.R. Smith, the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, was suspended for Sunday's game for hitting Terry with an elbow in New York's 90-76 win in Game 3. Smith is averaging 16.3 points per game in the series.

(Continued on page 2)

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