With elimination in the air, there had been a lot of talk about pride, averting a sweep and playing the right way. The Celtics spoke of the championship banners that block out the ceiling of their gym.

“Instead of talking, we actually came out and did it. There wasn’t a lot of verbal. This is it, down 3-0, what else is there to say?” Kevin Garnett said after he let his play do most of the talking — the guy screams a lot — by grabbing 17 rebounds for a second straight game and just being, well, KG.

The Celtics built a healthy first-half lead with little offensive involvement from Garnett. But his presence always was a factor, something that was painfully apparent when he drew his fourth foul early in the third quarter. Garnett went to the bench with the Celtics up 20.

When he was rushed back in 4:10 later, the Knicks were within 10. The Celtics kept the lead at nine, but when Garnett (13 points, six assists) sat just 42.6 seconds from the end of the third, the Knicks added six quick points and the Celtics stared at another abysmal third quarter, what Paul Pierce called their “Achilles heel” of the series.

“When they’re making their run, you’re trying to figure out how to stop the momentum and you’re trying to create a run of your own,” Garnett said. “It’s not easy. They know what they’re doing, and that’s what they’ve been doing all year. To turn that off is difficult.”

And ultimately, with Garnett scoring five points in the fourth quarter (including the crucial game-tying jumper with 1:07 remaining) and heroics from Jason Terry in overtime, the Celtics showed they were more than just talk as they got a return trip to New York through their 97-90 victory.