The Celtics have history on their minds and momentum on their side.
No team in the NBA has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven postseason series to win it, and the Celtics are openly dreaming about becoming the first.
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Wednesday night, they moved another significant step closer to doing so by beating the Knicks, 92-86, in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden and sending the first-round series back to Boston tomorrow night.
"Someone's going to do it," coach Doc Rivers said. "I want it to be us, obviously, because that's the situation we're in, but someone will do it. I really want to be a part of that."
Jason Terry, who scored 17 points off the bench and was one of five Celtics in double digits, said the Celtics have been playing a "worry-free" brand of basketball since falling into the 3-0 hole.
Trailing 11-0 at the start of Wednesday night's game, the Celtics didn't fret. Rivers called timeout and said he told his team, "We're fine, we're fine, we're good. Just hang in there."
The Celtics responded by playing with a calm and ease, almost as if they were balling on the street with no one in the stands and nothing but their pride on the line. "We didn't get rattled," said Paul Pierce, who scored 16. "We allowed ourselves to get back into the game and for the most part we maintained our poise on their floor."
They closed the first half by scoring nine of the final 11 points, a run sparked by Kevin Garnett throwing down a vintage one-handed dunk on an alley-oop pass from Pierce, to open a 45-39 halftime lead.
Unlike the first two games when they blew second-half leads, this time they held on for the unlikely win.
Consider that these Celtics, who were so offensively challenged at times early in this first-round series, had won only two of their previous 11 road games dating to the regular season. And the last time they beat a team with a winning record on the road was March 6 in Indiana.
"We have no choice but to build off this," Terry said. "That's what this is all about, continuing to peak at the right time. I think offensively we're starting to figure it out."
By forcing the series to return to Boston for Game 6, the Celtics have already accomplished a rare feat. Of the 103 teams that fell behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series coming into this postseason, only 10 extended the series to a sixth game, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
But the Celtics want more than just becoming the 11th.
"It's a Game 7 mentality," Garnett said. "It's an all-out mentality. There's no tomorrow."