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NBA Boston CelticsNew York Knicks

Boston Celtics Force Game 6 vs. New York Knicks After Vociferous Matchup in MSG

Don’t count your eggs before they hatch: a lesson J.R. Smith just learned.

The New York Knicks have been forced into a sixth game of their first round playoff vs. the Boston Celtics after they lost 92-86 in Madison Square Garden Monday night.

The win comes after Knicks shooting guard Smith told the New York media that if he were to play game four, the Knicks would have swept the series. Ironically, and unfortunately for him, Smith ended up 3-for-14 from the field and struggled in big possessions as Boston established its comeback momentum. And you know what happens when both Smith and Carmelo Anthony struggle to score for long stretches at a time.

Despite 24 shots in the game, Anthony didn’t score from the field until three minutes into the fourth quarter while Jason TerryKevin Garnett and Brandon Bass consistently and systematically chipped away at the Knicks and MSG’s volume. Terry was 5/9 from three and ended up with 17 points, Garnett with 16 and Bass with 17.

What’s the biggest difference? Their three-point shooting percentage. The Knicks won the rebound, turnover and assist battles, but shot a mere 22.7% — 5-for-22 — from three, while the Celtics shot 11-for-22, or 50% from beyond the arc. It seemed that every time New York made a push to inch closer, a loose ball would deflect to a wide-open Jeff Green or Jason Terry for a lay-up three and momentum changer.

And now the series returns back to Boston’s Garden — a place that drastically favors the Celtics.

Though 31-10 in 2013 while at home, the Knicks own a middling 23-18 record away from MSG. Similarly, the Celtics are 27-13 at home and 14-27 while out of Boston.

Worse for the Knicks, Anthony was seen grimacing and grabbing his shoulder after a physical entanglement with Garnett in the second half. He was kept quiet offensively thereafter.

Whether it was the vociferous New York crowd, J.R. Smith’s comments, or the Garnett and Anthony’s history, the Knicks and Celtics were consistently in one another’s faces throughout the game. Iman Shumpert, in a passionate display of petulance and anger, hounded the referees about Garnett’s aggressive elbows. Smith and Terry were charged with a double technical in the second half, and both teams scuffled at half-court after the game ended.

A series that started off back grounded by the classic New York/Boston rivalry is erupting into a personal combat between the indefatigable Garnett and Pierce and the ambitious Knicks. Maybe the Honey Nut Cheerios thing is back?

Friday should be interesting.

 

Follow Nick Tom on Twitter @NickTomFB