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May 4, 2013

A strange end to a strange Celtics season

Rivers, KG and Pierce could all be gone

BOSTON — It was bizarre, it was surreal, it was the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics ... the season as a whole, the N.Y. Knicks series and last night’s season-ending Game 6 loss.

Boston played some of it worst basketball of the season to fall behind by 26, 75-49, with 9:49 to play. The way the Celtics were playing, this was as over as a professional sports event can be.

Then it wasn’t.

Knicks Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin and Celtic greybeard Paul Pierce must have had flashbacks to the 2002 playoffs when Pierce and Boston staged a historic 21-point, fourth-quarter comeback win over Kidd, Martin and the Nets.

Avery Bradley woke up from his series-long slumber and hit a long jumper, had a steal and lay-up, assisted on a Pierce 3-pointer, had a steal and two free throws. All told, Boston, whose scoring droughts throughout the series were Sahara-esque, went on a 20-0 run in a mere 3:37. This after it took them 20:10 for them to score their first 20 points of the game.

Boston trailed just 75-69 with 5:44 left.

The crowd, at least those who hadn’t left already, was going ballistic. Now it looked like the mentally-fragile Knicks would suffer perhaps the most embarrassing loss in franchise history. What would Game 7 have been like tomorrow in New York with the Knicks close to being the first team in NBA history to play a 3-0 series lead?

The pressure would have been monumental on the Knicks.

The C’s cut it to 4 twice but Carmelo Anthony (21 points, 7-23 shooting) hit a 3-pointer with 1:43 left to hike it to 9. His first 3 after 19 straight misses from deep in the series!

“Gotta love the heart of a champion,” Celtic guard Jason Terry said of the comeback. “We just didn’t have enough gas in the tank.”

That was a familiar theme this year for a team with one of the oldest core groups in sports. Injuries to ace point guard Rajon Rondo and important rookie power forward Jared Sullinger made things much worse.

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