NEW YORK — Back in the series, now back to Boston.
The Celtics are two victories from NBA history, and from extending the Knicks’ postseason futility in a most improbable manner.
Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds and the Celtics stayed alive in the playoffs, cutting New York’s lead to 3-2 with a 92-86 victory Wednesday night.
The Celtics will host Game 6 on Friday night, needing two victories to become the first NBA team to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
“We’re still down. Our mentality has to be all-out,” Garnett said. “It can’t be anything (else).”
Brandon Bass added 17 points, steadying Boston as it shook off an 11-0 deficit and pulled away in the second half to stop the Knicks again from achieving their first playoff series victory since 2000.
“We didn’t panic and that’s something we’ve done, but we didn’t,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought once the game got back to that five, six area, our guys were good again.”
J.R. Smith, back from his one-game suspension for elbowing Jason Terry with the Knicks way ahead late in Game 3, missed his first 10 shots and finished 3 of 14 for 14 points.
Terry also scored 17 off the bench.
Jeff Green scored 18 points and Paul Pierce had 16 as he and Garnett, the two franchise stalwarts, extended this season — and perhaps their Celtics careers — at least one more game.
“Obviously being down 2-0 or 3-0 or whatever it was, we could have folded shop. Nobody in here is going to quit,” Terry said.
Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but was just 8 of 24 in another dismal shooting night for the Knicks, who blew a big lead in this game and now the series. They face an unwanted trip back to Boston instead of the rest this aging roster could surely use before the second round.
If they get there.
“I think we’re fine,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “Sure we would’ve loved to close it out and move on, but nobody said it would be easy.”
The Knicks would host Game 7 on Sunday.
Pacers rout Hawks in Game 5
INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Vogel made a few simple lineup adjustments and a strong pregame pitch. It was just what the Pacers needed Wednesday night.
Indiana played more physical and more focused basketball than Atlanta, and for the first time in this best-of-seven series played defense the way Vogel has been coaching it all season. Against all that, Atlanta never had a chance.
Veteran David West broke out of a series-long funk to score 24 points, Paul George finished with another double-double and Indiana pulled away for a 106-83 victory to take a 3-2 lead over the Hawks.
“We needed to re-establish our confidence,” said Vogel, the Pacers coach. “We’re still a young team. We needed to re-establish our ability to slow them down.”
Indiana did that and a whole lot more on a night in which it was virtually flawless.
West looked like his old self backing down defenders, then spinning away to hit his trademark step-back shots. George went making 7 of 8 shots from the field, finishing with 10 rebounds and five assists — another strong showing in a series he’s dominated in Indiana’s three wins.
Vogel changed the rotations, keeping some starters with the second unit to add scoring punch. And after posting the best defensive field goal percentage in the NBA this season, the Pacers finally managed to hold Atlanta under 50 percent shooting.
The blowout, Indiana’s third straight at home in the playoffs, even allowed the starters to get a few extra minutes of rest.
If the Pacers end a 13-game losing streak at Atlanta on Friday, they would win this best-of-seven series and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight year. Thanks to Boston, they might not even go into the next series at a substantial disadvantage after the Celtics closed to 3-2 with a stunning 92-86 win at New York.
A few days ago, Indiana didn’t dare contemplate such a possibility with so much at stake against the Hawks. Now, suddenly, everything seems OK, though the home team has won every game.
“It’s the playoffs. It’s good that both teams know how important it is to get home victories,” George said. “In the playoffs, it’s all about what team is going to be dominant on the road. Neither team has really done that yet.”
The Hawks were the latest victim of the home-court curse on another ugly night at Indiana.
They made only four baskets during a 57-minute decisive third quarter.
New York 3, Boston 2
Saturday, April 20: New York 85, Boston 78
Tuesday, April 23: New York 87, Boston 71
Friday, April 26: New York 90, Boston 76
Sunday, April 28: Boston 97, New York 90, OT
Wednesday, May 1: Boston 92, New York 86
Friday, May 3: New York at Boston, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, May 5: Boston at New York, 1 or 3:30 p.m.
Indiana 3, Atlanta 2
Sunday, April 21: Indiana 107, Atlanta 90
Wednesday, April 24: Indiana 113, Atlanta 98
Saturday, April 27: Atlanta 90, Indiana 69
Monday, April 29: Atlanta 102, Indiana 91
Wednesday, May 1: Indiana 106, Atlanta 83
Friday, May 3: Indiana at Atlanta, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, May 5: Atlanta at Indiana, TBA
All Times EDT / x-if necessary