The I-76ers

Around the Atlantic: Jason Terry, Paul Pierce Keep Celtics Alive

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(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Celtics caught a break today as they faced a possible sweep by their rival New York Knicks.

J.R. Smith, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year and the Knicks’ second leading scorer, was suspended for elbowing Jason Terry in the face in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Boston pulled out a gutty 97-90 win in overtime in Game 4, and will now force a fifth game in New York on Wednesday.

Carmelo Anthony tried to overcompensate for Smith’s absence, and ended up shooting 10-35 from the field for 36 points. Raymond Felton, one of New York’s lone bright spots, had a tremendous game, shooting 10-21 for 27 points while dishing out four assists and grabbing three steals.

Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, two wily NBA veterans, refused to let the Knicks embarrass them by completing the sweep on their own floor.

Terry, who scored Boston’s last nine points in overtime, put the Celtics up by three with under a minute left and then buried a fade-away jumper on the next possession.

Pierce, although he missed the potential game-winner at the end of regulation, led the way with 29 points for Boston, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot as he willed his team to victory.

The Celtics were largely outplayed in the second half today, which has been the case in every game throughout this series. On Wednesday, with the Knicks getting Smith back into their lineup, Boston doesn’t look to have much of a shot at furthering the series.

The Celtics played with heart today, but it’s hard to see such an old team be able to duplicate that kind of intensity for three consecutive games. Boston won’t go down easy, but it seems as though they will go down eventually.