Found April 27, 2013 on Celtics Spot:
The Boston Celtics' title hopes are on the line tomorrow as they head into Game 4 down three games to none to the New York Knicks. Fortunately for the Celtics, the Knicks will be without Sixth Man of the Year, JR Smith. Smith was suspended for Game 4 after he hit Jason Terry in the face with an elbow midway through the fourth quarter of Game 3. Hopefully the Cs will be able to take advantage of the Smith-less Knicks but they still have to account for the scoring champ, Carmelo Anthony.  The suspension of JR Smith should be taken as a blessing in disguise for this Celtics team that has been otherwise horrendous throughout this series. Without the threat of Smith's potent scoring coming off of the bench, New York will have to look elsewhere to find the 16.7 points Smith has averaged. It's hard to believe they'll be successful in doing so seeing as Smith has tallied more points than the rest of the Knicks' bench combined. In fact after Smith, Kenyon Martin is the next in line as far as putting the ball in the basket goes. The troubled veteran has averaged 6 points a night in just a little over 22 minutes per.  Of course, Boston's bench hasn't been much better. Jason Terry leads all Celtics reserves with 7.7 points per game but the Cs are going to need a much bigger effort out of both Terry and Jordan Crawford, especially under these circumstances. Crawford's 5 per have been very disappointing.  Although the Celtics have been putrid offensively, scoring just 75 points per game on 39.5% shooting thus far, it's the defense that will benefit greatly with Smith sidelined. Boston's defense has already been pretty solid but now that they can focus 99.9% of their energy on 'Melo, it should only improve.  Anthony has torched the Celtics, which was to be expected. 'Melo has already poured in 96 points in the first three games and he's done it rather easily. With Smith on the floor alongside him, Doc Rivers hasn't been able to throw many double teams at Carmelo and as a result, the scoring champ has been able to go to work with his back to the basket and in other forms of isolation.  Game 4 should play out differently as far as defending Anthony is concerned. The Celtics will most likely double down on him when he's posting up on the block, forcing him to rely on someone else to knock down an open shot and while guys like Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert can hit their jumpers, I'm sure Rivers will be happier with them chucking threes rather than Anthony.  Should Boston execute their rotations on the defensive end of the floor, all that will be left to do is score themselves, something that hasn't been so easy. Like I mentioned before, the Celts are shooting the ball at an incredibly inefficient clip and on top of that they haven't been able to take care of the ball - Knicks have stolen the ball from Boston 11 times per game - which also causes their woeful play. But if Kevin Garnett and company can play the kind of defense we've become accustomed to seeing then the offense will take care of itself. I think at times they've been forcing the issue on that side of the floor. Too many times have they tried to get KG going when it just wasn't falling. I know the saying, "shoot your way out of it," comes into play but there also comes a point in time where you just need to look elsewhere. Not to say that Garnett hasn't been helpful on offense but he could be better and the same could be said for the other guys in green and white.  So with Smith out, the Celtics are in a good position to take Game 4 at home tomorrow afternoon but it all depends on whether or not Boston can make it happen. At this point, they have no choice. It's do or die time for the Cs now and they're getting a break here that they need to capitalize on. Obviously, if they lose, they're done, but I expect this group of guys to stay alive and avoid a sweep.  I'm sure we'll all be watching anxiously. Follow @Maclean_Tim
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