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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Celtics Fall 88-80 To Knicks In Game 6, Let The Breakup Begin

Listen, we all knew this day would eventually come. There is a reason no team has ever rallied from a 3-0 hole in the NBA playoffs. Likewise, as much as we want them to be, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett won't be Celtics forever. It seems only right that in possibly their last game together, the Celts fell 88-80 to the Knicks in one of the most bizarre contests tonight at TD Garden in Game 6 of the first round.

The Knicks move on to face the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals beginning on Sunday afternoon. Go Indiana! New York won its first playoff series since 2000 while Boston lost in the first round for the first time since KG (15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals) came aboard in 2007-08 (when they won the NBA title). The Knicks should have won this game by about 40 points since the Celts managed 10 points in the first quarter and 27 in the first half. Ugh, seriously. That will be one of the lasting memories of this series, the wretched offensive performances by the C's in almost every game.

The Knicks led by as much as 26 (75-49) early in the fourth quarter before the Celtics hit them with a 20-0 run. Yes, that really happened. Suddenly, Boston cut it to a four-point game (79-75) after Avery Bradley's (10 points, 3 steals) dunk with 3:31 left in regulation. To quote KG from five years ago, "Anything's possible!" Unfortunately, that wasn't the case this evening though as Iman Shumpert (17 points, 6 rebounds) and J.R. Smith (13 points, 7 rebounds) made plays down the stretch while Carmelo Anthony (21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals) continued to be the most unclutch superstar in the NBA. Hell Pablo Prigioni (14 points, 5 rebounds) played better than him, Raymond Felton had 11 points, seven assists and two steals while Tyson Chandler added 9 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Jeff Green (21 points, 5 rebounds) showed plenty of heart (no pun intended), going to the line a whopping 14 times (two less than New York as a team). Whenever Garnett and Pierce leave, this will quickly become Rajon Rondo and Green's team. That is a scary proposition but at least this season, Green proved that when he puts his mind to it, he has the potential to be a star. I'd love to see Pierce return, if for no other reason than to erase the memory of one of his worst games as a Celtic: 14 points on 4-of-18 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Crap like guys retiring with a certain team usually doesn't mean much to me but in this case, I think he's earned that right. However, Celtics GM Danny Ainge has to do a much better job of surrounding Pierce (1 year left on his deal) and KG (two years left) with more talent.

Jason Terry had 14 points and he sounded like he's not ready to retire quite yet. He was a bust for most of the season but maybe with another season in Green and White, he would become more comfortable. Of course, one could argue that the biggest domino in this whole scenario is head coach Doc Rivers. In the emotional aftermath of this loss, he sounded very unsure of his future in Boston. Obviously, they'll have him here as long as he wants to stay. Still, like Garnett and Pierce, he is too good to have to go through another rebuilding mode. Who could blame him if he wants to leave (assuming KG and Pierce also walk out)?

I feel like I wrote the exact same thing last June after Boston lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, and I'm too tired to look it up, but I can say with certainty that this will truly be a fascinating summer. Does Ainge go for it one more time with this nucleus plus a healthy Rondo, Jared Sullinger and a better supporting cast and bench? Or does he blow it up completely and start to move on? Tough decisions, that's presumably why he gets paid the big bucks and I'm just a lowly blogger.

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