WALTHAM — The usually talkative Jason Terry was unusually terse when asked about the elbow J.R. Smith landed on Terry’s face Friday night at TD Garden.
“No comment,” Terry said Saturday before the Celtics watched film of the Knicks’ 90-76 Game 3 playoff win, which gave them a 3-0 lead in the first-round Eastern Conference series.
However, Terry did believe that Smith’s elbow, which earned him a Flagrant-2 foul and Saturday night’s announcement by the NBA of a suspension, would add some spice to Game 4 Sunday at TD Garden.
“No question,” he said.
Coach Doc Rivers was asked if it would take an elbow from Smith to spark the Celtics.
“I hope it doesn’t take that,” Rivers said. “Really, what is it going to do? Get us mad?”
Well, Terry seemed mad.
“Well, he should be, he’s the one who got hit,” Rivers said. “[Shoot], I’d be mad, too.”
Of that play, Avery Bradley said, “We knew that they were going to come out and hit us first and I feel like we should be the ones to do that.
“Regardless of anything, that should’ve made us play harder. We tried to play harder on the defensive end after that play. I feel like that gave us a little energy. “
Terry signed with the Celtics in the summer of 2012 but has failed to live up to expectations, including his own. His offense has been inconsistent, his defense largely non-existent. But Terry said he plans to leave it all on the court Sunday.
“I’m coming out with something,” he said. “I’m going to come out with the heart, the passion, the energy that’s needed to get a win.
“We have to do that collectively. One man’s not going to be able to provide that. It has to be a collective unit and we’ve got to get it done together.”
Rivers’s decision to start Terry in place of Brandon Bass to help relieve Bradley of some ball-handling duties didn’t have much of an impact Friday night.
If anything, the Celtics’ offensive woes that hadn’t started until the second half of the games started in the first, which yielded 31 points.
Rivers said he was undecided about what lineup he’d use Sunday — if he’d go “small” again or put Bass, a forward, back onto the court to start the game.
“Honestly, the plus/minus numbers tell us the small lineup is better,” Rivers said. “But I’m not so sure. Let me just put it this way: No lineup has been very good so far in this series. But our small lineups have been better than when we’ve gone bigger.
“Sometimes you gotta go against the numbers, and sometimes you go with it.”
Paul Pierce has 16 turnovers in the series, and they’ve been unsightly mistakes. In basketball jargon, Pierce has a case of “butterfingers”; he simply cannot hang on to the ball.
“That just happens, unfortunately,” Rivers said. “This is almost a mean statement, you wish it would happen to someone else. Not your key guy. He had one where, just trying to catch the ball and move it to the wide-open Jason Terry, he fumbled it right into [Iman] Shumpert’s hands.
“I don’t know why that happens in games. It does, it happens to everyone. Obviously, [Friday night], we just couldn’t have it happen, and it did. But I know Paul came to play, and that’s the point I’m making. He just kinda struggled, and it happens.”
Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.