But Allen then joined the Heat, and All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo was lost to a knee injury around midseason. Garnett will turn 37 next month and Pierce is 35, and the Celtics have had opportunities to trade both of them. There may be more decisions in the offseason, so the end of this series could actually be the end of an era.
"I dread the end all the time. I really do," Rivers said. "I just like to be able to know when the end is, meaning you're in Game 7 of the world championship. Then you know you're playing for the end. I hate when the end can come early. But I dread them all."
Game 5 would be Wednesday, though the Knicks would prefer to wrap it up Sunday and give one of the oldest rosters in NBA history some extra rest before their first appearance in the second round since 2000.
"For sure," said point guard Raymond Felton. "Just like Melo said, I've been on the other end of the stick as well. I was in Charlotte, made the playoffs for the first time and we got swept by Orlando. So it feels good to be on the winning side. So if we could come out and definitely sweep this game, it would be something special for all of us. For me, for him, especially individually, and then on top of that we'd get a lot of rest. And hopefully Indiana and Atlanta can go to Game 7."
The Celtics believe they can turn things around with more effort, though their execution has been just as poor. Not even Pierce has been immune to their woes, missing a layup on the first possession of Friday's 90-76 loss and just fumbling the ball away on a couple of occasions later in the game.
But forward Jeff Green said his confidence is "still high," even if the Celtics' chances of advancing aren't.
"I mean, look at the guys on this team, guys who have been through so much throughout their career," he said. They've been down. I mean you have guys who are confident in their game and believe that we have a chance, and that's all that it takes."
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