What was it going to take for the Celtics to beat the Knicks in games this series?
1) A strong defense that contained a powerful Knicks offense. Like holding them to 34.4 percent shooting. Check.
2) Not letting Carmelo Anthony take over a game, force him into inefficient isolation shots. Such as 10-of-35 shooting. Check.
3) Getting big play from secondary guys like Jeff Green and Jason Terry. Like 26 points from Green and nine in overtime from Terry. Check
Finally the Celtics put together their best game — on a day the Knicks got away from what worked — and won Game 4 97-90 in overtime.
That forces a Game 5 back in New York on Wednesday, when you can expect this series will end.
But for a Day we got the Celtics we expected to show up in this series, one with a lot of fight that would push the Knicks. That started early — with game tied 5-5 Boston went on a 9-0 run. They had success defensively again after returning to the lineup that started Brandon Bass and his size on Anthony, with Terry coming off the bench. The Knicks started the game 3-of-12 shooting and Anthony missed his first six shots
Transition play became a key way the Celtics stretched out their lead to 19 at the half — the Knicks shot 29 percent in the first half and had 13 turnovers, which gave the Celtics a lot of opportunity to get out and run. Green had 15 points in the first half and a lot of that came pushing the ball in transition. New York clearly missed the spark that J.R. Smith provides them off the bench (he was suspended for the game for an elbow to Jason Terry’s head in Game 3).
But we had seen this before from the Celtics this series — a fantastic first half followed by a third quarter collapse. And we got another one.
Boston’s offense got stagnant in the face of Knicks pressure and New York made an 11-2 run midway through third. The Knicks kept coming and when Raymond Felton hits a three with buzzer beater, he has 16 points in quarter and the Celtics lead was just three. Knicks won the quarter 30-14 and they outscored the Celtics 14-3 after Carmelo Anthony went to the bench with four fouls
The game was first tied at 74-74 then was tied again at 82-82 with 3:30 left on Anthony drive and layup off a 4/5 pick-and-roll with poor defense on it by Boston.
But down the stretch in those final minutes Anthony was 0-of-5 from the floor. Raymond Felton (who finished with 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting) made a pull up jumper but in general down the stretch we saw a whole lot missed contested shots by both teams.
Then in overtime Jason Terry showed up. He started out with a pull-up jumper in transition that wasn’t really a good shot until it went through the net. When Terry is confident everything falls and it did for a stretch, and he had 9 of his 18 in the overtime.
That plus the 29 points on the night from Paul Pierce, and the 13 points and 17 rebounds from Kevin Garnett was enough.
Boston finally fought back, didn’t fall apart and got a win.
It extended the series to Wednesday back in Madison Square Garden. But look for the Knicks to take care of business then.