GREENBURGH, N.Y. — J.R. Smith may have altered a series with one poor decision. He certainly forced his midweek plans to change.
When he dropped Boston’s Jason Terry with an elbow to the chin late in Game 3 on Friday night, Smith earned a suspension that left the New York Knicks without their No. 2 scorer during the regular season for Game 4 on Sunday.
The Knicks didn’t have enough offense without him, losing 97-90 in overtime as Terry, not the Sixth Man of the Year, hit the big shots off the bench.
Had Smith been available, perhaps this series would already be over.
“It would’ve been,” Smith said Tuesday. “I would’ve been playing golf today.”
Instead, he was practicing for Game 5.
The Knicks will host it Wednesday, their second attempt to close out their first series victory since 2000.
“We want to end it,” leading scorer Carmelo Anthony said. “We came this far, did our job at home first two games, did our job on the road, got one on the road. We’ve got the opportunity to end it here on our home court.”
The Knicks won the first three games, holding the Celtics to an average of 75 points, before Boston broke out — sort of — on Sunday. The Celtics scored 54 points in the first half and led by 20 early in the third quarter before their offensive struggles returned, and they were limited to just 30 points in the third and fourth quarters.
Clean up those bad stretches, and the Celtics think they can keep climbing out of the mess they created for themselves.
“There’s that one quarter where we have mental lapses,” forward Paul Pierce said. “They pick up the energy. They pick up the defense, and they have us on our heels, so we have to be cautious of that.”