The New York Knicks will try to win their first playoff series in 13 years Wednesday night when they host the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden.
After the Celtics fended off elimination with a home win Sunday, the series returns to MSG on Wednesday with the Knicks on the verge of advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"We played the regular season for this," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "Now, we're in position to close them out here at home in front of our fans. It should be a nice, loud gym in our favor."
The last time the Knicks won a playoff series was the Eastern Conference semifinals after the 1999-2000 season. They fell to the Indiana Pacers in the Conference Finals that year.
In addition to the MSG faithful providing a boost, the Knicks should get some momentum back with the return of the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith.
He was suspended for Game 4 for throwing an elbow at Jason Terry and Smith's presence was missed in Boston's 97-90 overtime victory Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden.
"We missed 18 points the other night and still put ourselves in position to win," said Woodson. "I hoped he learned his lesson."
Carmelo Anthony once again paced the Knicks with 36 points. Raymond Felton was outstanding with 27 points and only two turnovers in the 47-plus minutes. Iman Shumpert had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Celtics appeared to have figured something out on Sunday, especially in the first half. Boston took a 19-point lead at halftime, but things turned south quickly. The Knicks hammered the C's in the third quarter, but Terry took over late.
Terry scored the final nine points for the Celtics, all coming in overtime.
"That's what he does," said Boston head coach Doc Rivers. "He's made so many big shots in his career."
Paul Pierce led the way with 29 points in almost 50 minutes. Jeff Green had 26 points, followed by Terry's 18 and a double-double from Kevin Garnett, who posted 13 points and 17 rebounds.
The Celtics still haven't scored 100 points in a game this series. Granted, they haven't allowed 100 either, but Boston has only averaged 82.2 ppg over these four games.
What has frustrated the Celtics, and especially Rivers, the most is the approach Boston has taken.
"It's no secret: they're going to trap Paul and they're going to trap Kevin," Rivers said on Tuesday. "All year we've done a great job of really attacking traps, to the point where teams stopped trapping. And for whatever reason we haven't made the open shots.
"That's where I would say I'm the most disappointed with us offensively, because we work on it every day and we really haven't taken advantage of their traps."
The Celtics swept the Knicks in the first round two seasons ago and Boston has only won once in their last five trips to MSG.
If the Celtics prevail on Wednesday, Game 6 would be Friday night in Boston.