I had a recap written, a morose send off to a lost season, but like so many times before the Celtics made me tear the whole thing up. When Avery Bradley stole the ball and cut the lead to four I believed, in that moment I doubted the obituary I had resigned myself to writing and though the C’s came up short I wonder what comes next. When the Knicks’ lead ballooned to twenty I thought I knew, now I’m not so sure. I’ll need to think on it for a while. What I do know is that in the fourth quarter the Celtics refused to lay down and die, and if this is the end of an era at least it ended with a tremendous display of Celtic pride. “We came together and said ‘If we’re going to go out, we’ve got to go out fighting.’” Green said afterward. Let’s run through the bullet points one last time:
- Kevin Garnett played his heart out tonight. One of the few Celtics to play a competent offensive game through the first three quarters, Garnett finished with 15 points on 7-10 shooting and 10 rebounds. I’m not sure what comes next for KG, when he was asked about it after the game Garnett didn’t have answers either, “I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you. I’m kind of digesting , obviously, the current, and Doc came to me, pulled Paul and I to the side and all three of us agreed to speak later — too emotional. Obviously, it was a big game, tough loss, especially at home. But more importantly in the future, it’s a different day for that conversation.”
- Coming off a team-high 44 minutes in game five, a fatigued Paul Pierce struggled all night long, calling his performance poor would be kind. Pierce finished with 14 points (dreadful 4-18 shooting), seven rebounds, five assists, and (of course) five turnovers. “I didn’t perform at my best,” Pierce conceded. “I really struggled the last couple games offensively.” At 35 Pierce can’t bear the load he used to, his body can’t take it, but Pierce said he’s not done, “I definitely expect to play next season.”
- Jason Terry showed up for the third game in a row, scoring 14 points on just six shots. Like Pierce, JET said retirement was not on the table, “I have to get back to Sixth Man of the Year form,” said Terry after the game. I think that’s Terry language for “man, I was pretty bad all season.” That said, Terry was also one of the only reasons the Celtics had a chance in this series so I think he’s growing on me, like some sort of incessantly talking fungus. On the other hand, Jordan Crawford and his magic socks played three minutes and scored zero points. Remember when I was advocating Crawford over Terry? Yeah let’s all pretend that never happened.
- Avery Bradley was the catalyst for the Celtics’ late game surge, with all 10 of his points (and all three of his steals) coming in the fourth quarter. Bradley isn’t a point guard and he probably never will be, but in those final minutes it was great to see him look like himself again.
- Jeff Green played 43 hard minutes, ultimately fouling out while running on fumes during the Celtics’ comeback bid. Green did most of his damage from the line (11-14 there) and finished with 21 points on 12 shots. Green has come a long way since his early season struggles, and was arguably the Celtics’ best player in the series.
“If I had a wish, everybody would be back. Healthy, like the way we started.” Green said after the game. That might be the sentiment we’re left with in a lost season. Even when the Celtics were healthy this team never showed enough for C’s fans to feel that the Basketball Gods had wronged them, but on a night like tonight you can’t help but wonder what might have been. I’ll leave you with these words from Doc Rivers:
“I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys who went through (so much) adversity. They never didn’t think they could (do it).”
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @HiggsOnHoops