- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Knicks had it all planned out:
Bring black clothing to Game 5. Win the game, eliminate the Celtics and have a little fun afterward by wearing all black in the locker room to mimic a funeral.
Didn't exactly work out that way, though.
"We were going to a funeral," J.R. Smith said, "but it looks like we got buried."
And Smith helped the Knicks dig their own grave on Wednesday.
Coming off a Game 4 suspension, the Knicks' sixth man was a no-show against Boston in Game 5. He missed his first 10 shots and finished 3-for-14 with 14 points and two turnovers.
"It was a struggle for him pretty much the whole game," Mike Woodson said. "We got to get him in a position where he’s not struggling like that. We need him to score the basketball for us."
The Knicks' reliance on Smith has burned them in the last two games.
Smith was suspended in Game 4 for hitting Jason Terry with an elbow to the face in Game 3.
Without their sixth man, the Knicks' offense stalled.
Carmelo Anthony missed a career-high 25 shots and the Knick bench produced just three points in an overtime loss.
On Wednesday, Smith hurt the Knicks again. Only this time, he was in uniform.
New York jumped out to an 11-0 lead on Boston before Mike Woodson summoned Smith off the bench.
He checked in with 6:38 to go in the quarter and proceeded to miss his first five shots. It was no coincidence that the Knicks trailed, 45-39, at the half.
One reason for Smith's shooting struggles?
Smith said he was "extremely anxious" before hitting the floor.
"Coming into the game a lot of fans got me hyped," he said. "I really couldn't wait to play."
Some of those same fans were booing him off the floor when Smith missed a 3-pointer with 34 seconds to go and the Knicks down nine.
By then, it was clear that Smith and the Knicks would be heading to Boston for Game 6 instead of celebrating their first playoff series win since 2000. It was also clear that the Knicks wouldn't be attending any funerals.
"We'll take that. It's all a part of being humbled," Smith said. "Basketball is a very humbling game."
Smith was anything but humble the day before Game 5. He said that the series would have ended in a sweep had he played in Game 4 ("I'd have been playing golf today," he said). He also playfully claimed to not know who Jason Terry was.
But Terry made sure Smith knew his name on Wednesday.
The Celts' sixth man poured in 17 key points in Game 5, including a 3-pointer with three minutes to go to give the Celtics a 12-point lead.
"We can't take nothing away from them," Smith said. "They're a championship ball club."
That's something the Knicks aspire to be. But they've looked like anything but in the last two games.
"Nobody said it was gonna be easy, but now it’s a series," Woodson said.
Smith, to his credit, accepted full blame for the Knicks' last two losses.
"Yeah, without a doubt," he said. "From the absence of Game 4 ... and then [to] come out today, stink it up.
"I can't have a game like this," he added. "I can't have another one like this."
He's right. Because if he and the Knicks continue to struggle, they might have all summer to hit the golf course.
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16dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford