Shamrock Roundup: Early Exit for Celtics, What’s Next
The Celtics have lost. The Knicks have won. Yet, it doesn’t feel that way after the Celtics nearly evened the series after being down three games straight and down by 20 points Friday night. The Celtics showed heart and resiliency. Despite being the inferior team in the end, they refused to quit. Down 75-49 with a little over than 10 minutes left, they gave us fans a thrilling comeback that fell just short.
Game 6 may just be the final game for Kevin Garnett, who turns 37 in just a couple of weeks. Garnett played for 41 minutes, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out three assists, and scored 15 points on just 10 shots. In six games against the Knicks, Garnett had averaged 13.7 rebounds, the most he has generated in a postseason series in the last 10 years. One summer ago, Garnett was thinking of retirement. He later signed a 3-year extension that would keep the Celtics in playoff contention. Jared Sullinger, who is just 21 and is rehabbing from a season-ending back-surgery, would develop faster under Garnett’s wings.
Paul Pierce has been a Celtic for 15 seasons. He has expressed desire to stay in a Celtics uniform, but even he is not sure if management will keep an aging superstar. Should he come back next year, he is due $15.3 for the season, and a chance to mentor Jeff Green who is turning into a prolific scorer for the Celtics during the series.
They have young contributors for years to come in Avery Bradley and Green. Bradley, who was a feared defender guarding the point guard and shooting guard positions, is still developing his offense. Jason Terry did not completely replace the departed Ray Allen off the bench, but he did score 14 points. J.R. Smith, the regular season’s Sixth Man of the Year, scored 13 for New York.
What fans can learn from this series is that the Celtics can be so much better. The Knicks, who nearly swept the Celtics in four games, went cold for two consecutive games before their bench saved them. Game 5 was a perfect example from a lesson of Hubris when the Knicks dressed up in black as a metaphor for the Celtics’ funeral procession. The Knicks have not won a first-round playoff series since 2000. The Celtics have been to the Finals twice since 2007, and won one of them.
Though the personnel in Celtics green will change, they will adapt as they always have. They will contend next season. We will see new faces. We may say our goodbyes to Garnett, and even Pierce. But the years that they have given us have been undeniably great.