For all his struggles throughout this playoff series, Avery Bradley took charge of an almost improbable comeback at the end of Game 6 at TD Garden Friday night.
It started with his jumper with 9:21 left, and he turned up his defense, as did the rest of the Celtics, holding the Knicks scoreless over a stretch that spanned 4:43.
Bradley also recorded a key steal with 7:28 left, scored a layup, made another steal, and hit a pair of free throws before sinking a layup and later adding a dunk off a steal that made it a 4-point game with 3:32 left.
Though the Celtics lost, 88-80, thus ending their season as the New York Knicks won the first-round playoff series, 4-2, that stretch was by far the best Bradley has played since Game 1 of the series, when he had 15 points.
“I feel like the steals fired everybody up, and we just rallied and started playing transition basketball, which is one of our strengths, and it helped us come back,” he said.
Bradley finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting with a game-high 3 steals.
“Like I said, I was trying to leave everything out on the floor, try to take more chances when I was out there,” he said. “I knew all we could do . . . It was 5 minutes, 6 minutes ago we were down by 20, nobody thought we would come back. I just wanted to do whatever I could do.”
Making a point
It wasn’t until after the Celtics’ Game 5 victory that coach Doc Rivers said he knew he could trust Terrence Williams on the playoff stage.
“I think that would be the honest answer,” Rivers said before Game 6 between the Knicks and Celtics at TD Garden Friday.
Williams was key in Game 5, by handling the ball late when the Knicks turned up their defensive pressure.
Rivers again went to Williams early in Game 6, having him play the point guard position. He logged 12:07 of playing time.
The drama from the on-court altercation at the end of Game 5 had two days to cool off before the teams reconvened Friday night.
But it was still a subject they broached before Game 6.
To recap: Jordan Crawford verbally engaged Knicks star Carmelo Anthony on the court after the game, causing a fracas that involved several players.
Self-proclaimed lip-readers alleged that Crawford said something about Anthony’s wife, LaLa, who responded on Twitter, saying of Crawford: “Try again. You on the bench for a reason.”
Crawford, who denied on Twitter that he said anything about LaLa, didn’t play in Game 5, but he checked in late during the first quarter of Game 6 for one minute. He didn’t play again in the half.
Garnett allegedly made an offensive remark about Anthony’s wife in a January game, prompting a postgame skirmish, with Anthony waiting for Garnett after the game near the Celtics’ bus.
Rivers again said the altercation in Game 5 was much ado about nothing.
“It’s words,” he said before Game 6, with a laugh. “I had one of my assistants telling me what he thought someone said. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is getting too deep for me.’ I really don’t worry about it. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of healthy dislike. But let’s just play the game.”
Ode to ’04
The words scrolled across the JumboTron a few minutes before tipoff: “0-3 is insurmountable . . . unless you’re from Boston.”
Then the Celtics started playing highlights from the Red Sox 2004 comeback from a 3-0 series deficit in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.
Former Red Sox infielder Kevin Millar, who prophetically called the Sox comeback, was asked by the Celtics to attend Friday’s game, he told WEEI. But Millar was unable to attend because of a prior commitment at a charity golf event.
“How ironic?” Millar said of the series. “Same two cities, same situation going on. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.’’
After showing the Sox highlights, the Jumbotron showed images of the Knicks wearing all-black attire to Game 5 — a message that they were coming to a funeral.
“When people wear all black and saying it’s your funeral — a lot of us have people that died in our own personal lives, so that’s not really something funny,” said Williams, whose father was murdered when Williams was 6.