NEW YORK — The danger in the way the Celtics won Game 3 is that there may be a sense that Game 4 will come just as easily. Outside of the locker rooms, no one expects the Knicks to put up much of a fight after the margin of Friday night’s game. The Celtics have to make sure they maintain focus inside of the locker room as they attempt to sweep the Knicks Sunday afternoon.
“It’s one of the hardest things to do,” said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “That close-out game, regardless of when it is. It’s one of the hardest games because you expect everybody to be their best, play their hardest. It’s like when your back’s against the wall you’re trying to do anything. It’s probably going to be the hardest game in the series, and we’ve got to expect that.”
The pressure of the Madison Square Garden stage seemed to work against the young Knicks Friday. Tomorrow, they’ll be playing with nothing to lose, a fact not lost on Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
“Winning’s hard, especially when you see the same team,” Rivers said. “It’s just a hard thing to do. We’re not focusing on the number of wins [in the series]. We’re focusing on winning one game. And that’s how we have to be.”
As successful as the Celtics have been in the last four postseasons, they’ve never completed a playoff sweep.
“I’ve never been part of a sweep,” Pierce said. “We can’t worry about that. We’ve got it take it one game at a time. We want to close the series. That’s on everybody’s mind. But they’re not going to give it to us.
“You just don’t want to give a team confidence,” Pierce continued. “Regardless of rest and legs, whatever confidence you give a team, you never know what could happen. I don’t want to be a part of that team that’s part of NBA history of being the first team to give up a 3-0 lead.”
Pierce had some fun at the end of the closed portion of today’s walkthrough, hitting a shot from the corner of halfcourt to end the session. He then hit a 3-pointer while sitting on the Celtics bench. Poor Sasha Pavlovic, however, couldn’t hit the rim on any one of several shot attempts from halfcourt.