Knicks send Celtics packing, 88-80

Knicks send Celtics packing, 88-80
May 3, 2013, 9:45 pm
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BOSTON — The obituary on the Boston Celtics' season can finally be written now.

But man, what an exciting life it was as the Celtics put together the kind of comeback in Game 6 that no fan of the C's will forget anytime soon.

Despite falling behind by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter, the C's rallied to come within four points.

But digging themselves out of such a huge hole proved to be too much as the New York Knicks did just enough in the game's final minutes to escape with an 88-80 victory and with it, clinch the first-round series 4-2.

As the final horn sounded and Paul Pierce left, and then Kevin Garnett, possibly for the last time, there was a mix of disappointment and pride in the air.

Yes, Celtics Nation was certainly sad that the C's season was over but proud at how the team fought until the bitter end and seemed just a play or two away from pulling off what would have been a comeback for the ages.

Although the C's came into the postseason as a seventh seed, there was a belief that they would be the one lower seed to advance out of the first round of the playoffs.

But the Knicks were the tougher team, both physically and mentally, throughout the series.

When it came to making the hustle plays, the Knicks were better.

X-factor players?

Yeah, the Knicks had more of them as well.

And as the final horn sounded, there was little doubt in anyone's mind that New York played the better series and had earned the right to move on to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

Meanwhile, the Celtics' season ends with lots of questions about their future, both short and long-term.

Will Pierce be bought out for $5 million, or return at the cost of $15.3 million?

Will Kevin Garnett retire?

And what about Rajon Rondo? Can he bounce back and be as good as he was, pre-torn ACL injury?
Can they build around him if Pierce and/or Garnett is gone, or will they look to trade him as well?

As the C's will surely disect what went wrong in this series, an inability to make shots stands out profoundly.

The most telling moment in the game came at the end of the third quarter and the Celtics were down 67-47.

The Knicks were able to increase their lead in the third by eight points despite getting zero points - ZERO POINTS - from Carmelo Anthony.

That quarter like far too many in this playoff series, was one in which the Celtics simply lacked the offensive firepower to compete with, let alone outperform, the Knicks.

And then they came alive after Iman Shumpert's dunk with 9:49 to play gave the Knicks a 75-49 lead.

Avery Bradley was getting steals.

Jeff Green was getting to the free throw line.

And Paul Pierce, who struggled mightily all game, was hitting acrobatic shots in the lane.

Just like that, the Celtics were within four points 75-79 with more than three minutes to play.

But turnovers and bad misses once again led to a missed opportunity for the Celtics which was one of the dominant themes with them this season.