Celtics-Knicks Game 6 preview: Another must-win

Celtics-Knicks Game 6 preview: Another must-win
May 3, 2013, 9:30 am
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BOSTON — Jason Terry rose to his feet quickly after J.R. Smith's elbow connected with his chin in Game 3. Since then, this Boston-New York playoff series hasn't been the same.

The Celtics, seemingly flat-lined and ready for the postseason graveyard, have shown the kind of fight that few thought they had in them when this series began.

From the cusp of being swept out of the playoffs, the C's are now a win away from tying up the series which would position them to do what no team in NBA history has ever done, which is rally to win a playoff series after falling behind 3-0.

"You know some team is going to do it sooner or later," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com. "Why not us?"

The C's date with history won't come about if they can't handle business at home tonight against the Knicks, who will get a third crack at eliminating the Celtics from the playoffs.

New York's two losses certainly changed the series, and you would think, the Knicks' mindset as well. But as Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony addressed the media afterward, both tried their best to put a positive spin on where things stand in the series.

"We are still in a good place," Felton said. "We are still up three games against two. We have to put it behind us. We have another game (tonight)."

Said Anthony, "We are good. Mentally we are in a good place. We understand we control our own destiny at this point."

Now that the C's are in position to even the series at home, they understand the approach tonight has to be the same as it has been in the previous two games.

"It is another Game 7 for us," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Every game since we have been down 3-0, every game is a Game 7 for us. We are looking at each one of these as Game 7s."

And if the Celtics win tonight, both teams will play an actual winner-take-all Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. But first things first. Boston must first find a way to win tonight which, as has been the case with most things in this series, is easier said than done.

Here are some factors that are likely to come into play in tonight's Game 6 battle between Boston and New York.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Lately it has been players' words and not their talent, making headlines in this playoff series. As much as Doc Rivers says he doesn't like to see that stuff, it actually has worked in the C's favor. Boston has the kind of squad whose leaders, for the most part, can block out all the white noise -- or as Kevin Garnett calls it, "shenanigans" -- and just play basketball. The Knicks, at least in the last two games, have allowed chatter on and off the court to impact their play negatively.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jason Terry vs J.R. Smith. NBA Sixth Man of the Year winners of the past (Terry) and present (Smith) have been major factors in this series. It's not a matter of who will score more points. Most nights, that'll be Smith by a landslide. It's whether those points are impactful, something Terry has been able to deliver in the last two games for the C's.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Bass came up with 17 big points in Boston's Game 5 win, equalling his scoring total in the first four games combined. Since becoming a Celtic, the C's are 5-2 at home in the playoff games when Bass has 10 or more points scored.

STAT TO TRACK: Kevin Garnett has grabbed 52 rebounds in the last three games, a ridiculously astounding number for any player let alone a 36-year-old veteran. You have to wonder if Garnett has it in him to deliver yet another monster game on the boards with such a quick turn-around following the C's Game 5 win on Wednesday.