NEW YORK — The Knicks will have J.R. Smith for Game 5 and will be back in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden. But they still could be entering dangerous territory.
They gave the Celtics hope and a few more days to breathe by not completing the sweep of their first-round series Sunday in Boston. If the Knicks, who are up 3-1, don’t knock off the veteran Celtics on Wednesday night, the series changes dramatically. The Knicks have the right mentality going into Game 5, though.
“Finish the job,” Tyson Chandler said.
“We have to be confident going back home,” Carmelo Anthony said. “The Garden will be rocking Wednesday. We’ll be prepared for it.”
The Knicks, who didn’t practice yesterday, have won 12 straight at the Garden and by an average of 15 points. Three of those wins have come against Boston, including two in this series.
No NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit and won a series. But closeout games are the toughest to get, and the Knicks know Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will fight to bring the series back to Boston for Game 6.
But Anthony wants to win so badly, for his own and the Knicks’ playoff legacies. The Knicks haven’t won a playoff series since 2000 and Anthony has made it past the first round just once in nine years.
He desperately tried to shoot the Knicks into the second round Sunday, and put too much of the game on his shoulders. Anthony scored 36 points, but shot 10-for-35 — 0-for-7 from three — and missed two foul shots with the score tied and 1:50 left in regulation in the 97-90 overtime loss.
Anthony will have some help Wednesday with Smith returning from his one-game suspension for throwing an elbow at Jason Terry in Game 3. But like Anthony on Sunday, Smith has had plenty of games and moments when he shoots too much, forces things and his teammates stand around and watch instead of being involved.