Celtics Delay Funeral That Knicks Had Planned For Them

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NEW YORK — They showed up Wednesday at Madison Square Garden wearing black. They left wearing some egg on their faces.

Somewhere between deciding they would dress appropriately for the Celtics' funeral and J.R. Smith's deciding that New York definitely would have swept the series Sunday if he had played, the Knicks forgot they hadn't won a playoff series in 13 years.

The Knicks, well, they forgot they're still the Knicks.

Maybe that's why they looked a little peaked after their 92-86 Game 5 loss in this opening-round NBA playoff series. Maybe that's why they left — do we dare say it? — looking a little green.

New York suddenly wasn't talking Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference Finals as the clock headed for midnight. New York suddenly was talking Boston and 2004.

No, Larry Bird isn't walking through that door. No, Kevin McHale isn't walking through that door, either. But, hell's bells, Kevin Millar and Johnny Damon might be. No team has ever come back from a 0-3 series deficit in NBA history and it has only been done once in baseball. You know all about that one, of course.

"I think that would be wonderful," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game. "Someone's going to do it. And I want it to be us, obviously, since that's the situation we are in. I really want to be a part of that."

Afterward, Rivers was too wise to pour more heat on the Knicks. Obviously, they are starting to feel it already.

"It's on us still — and them maybe — it's definitely on us still," Rivers said. "Every game since we've been down 3-0, it has been Game 7 for us. There's still a ton of pressure on us."

If the Celtics win Game 6 on Friday night and Knicks coach Mike Woodson names Kevin Brown as a seventh-game starter, say your prayers, because the apocalypse truly will be upon us.

With the opportunity to eliminate the Celtics at home, Kenyon Martin had told his teammates to dress "in funeral colors." Many of them did arrive dressed in black, as reportedly, some even did for Game 4 in Boston.

"This is basketball," Paul Pierce, who might have been playing in his last Celtics game if they had lost, said beforehand. "I'm not going to be dead after the game."

"I have not paid attention to none of the shenanigans," said Kevin Garnett, who might have been in his last game — period — if the Celtics lost.

All talk of whether Pierce will remain with the Celtics is on hold for at least 48 more hours. All talk of whether KG will retire is on hold until at least after Game 6 in Boston on Friday night.

Why the Knicks would risk provoking a proud franchise is perplexing. Why the Knicks would risk provoking any team with Garnett isn't terribly smart.

"We're still up 3-2," Martin said. "All they did is win a game."

After being suspended a game for stupidly throwing an elbow at Jason Terry in the fourth quarter of a Knicks victory that pushed the Celtics within 48 minutes of elimination, Smith watched the Knicks' overtime loss to the Celtics in a Boston hotel room. When he showed up at practice Tuesday, Smith declared he'd be using his sand wedge had he played.

"Oh, yeah, it would've been over," Smith said. "I'd have been playing golf today."

Maybe he should have gone golfing Wednesday and stayed at the 19th hole until past dark. He couldn't have played any worse. In fact, until he hit three of four three-point attempts in the final 2:48, Smith was 0-for-10. It was truly a double-digit stink.

"I'm a streaky shooter," Smith said. "If I miss six in a row, that seventh and eighth shot is going up regardless."

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