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The New York Knicks dressed for a funeral procession that never arrived and now face as many questions about their fashion sense as their overall play heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first-round series at the Boston Celtics on Friday. The Celtics staved off elimination for the second straight game Wednesday in New York and are trying to become the first team in NBA history to win a playoff series after dropping the first three games.
The Knicks were bubbling with so much confidence that they would close out the series on their home floor that the players dressed in "funeral black" prior to Wednesday's game to celebrate Boston's demise. Instead, the Celtics erased an 11-0 deficit and capitalized on the frigid shooting outings of Knicks star Carmelo Anthony and sixth man J.R. Smith to make the unthinkable - pushing the series to a deciding Game 7 - a real possibility. "I told you from Game 1 that this wasn't going to be a breeze," Anthony said after Game 5. "They threw a couple punches at us now and it's time for us to do the same."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, MSG (New York), Comcast SportsNet New England (Boston)
ABOUT THE KNICKS: New York averaged a league-high 10.9 made 3-pointers during the regular season, but its unability to hit from long range has been pivotal in the past two defeats. Anthony has missed all 12 of his attempts and the Knicks have gone 12-of-52 from behind the arc in Games 4 and 5. Anthony was held to a series-low 22 points Wednesday and is shooting an abysmal 18-of-59 over the last two. Smith, typically the team's No. 2 scorer option, also was horrendous after returning from a one-game suspension, missing his first 10 shots and failing to register his first field goal until the final three minutes. Raymond Felton has been a rock for New York, scoring 48 points in the last two and averaging 18.4 points in the series.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Boston essentially beat the Knicks at their own game, connecting on 11-of-22 3-pointers after shooting only 30 percent from long range in the first four games. Equally important for the Celtics is the fact they put five players in double figures for the first time all series in Game 5. Brandon Bass, who has been assigned the unenviable task of guarding Anthony and was removed from the starting lineup in Game 3, delivered 17 points - as many as he scored in the first four games combined. Sixth man Jason Terry, held scoreless in the series opener, continued his revival by knocking down five 3-pointers en route to 17 points Wednedsay. He's averaging 16.3 points in the last three games.
1. Teams have come back to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 only three times in 103 attempts, and only 10 teams have extended the series to a Game 6 when facing such a deficit.
2. Anthony's teams have lost in the first round of the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons.
3. Celtics C Kevin Garnett has four straight double-doubles and is averaging 12.2 points and 14.4 rebounds in the series.
PREDICTION: Knicks 89, Celtics 85