BOSTON — Earlier than Recreation 5 of the Japanese Convention finals, Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was requested about his group’s mindset coming into a second straight elimination sport.
“Simply win or die,” he stated.
After a dominant efficiency Thursday evening, the Celtics are nonetheless alive.
Boston took management from the beginning and by no means appeared again, taking pictures over 50% from the sphere, forcing the Miami Warmth into 16 turnovers that turned 27 factors and having 4 gamers end with not less than 20 factors in a wire-to-wire, 110-99 victory in entrance of a raucous crowd at sold-out TD Backyard.
“Our again has been towards the wall,” stated Jaylen Brown, who completed with 21 factors. “Clearly, we did not think about being on this place, being down 3-0, however when adversity hits, you get to see what a group is admittedly fabricated from.
“It could not worsen than being down 3-0, however we did not go searching, we did not go in separate instructions. We stayed collectively.”
The Celtics moved a step nearer to turning into the primary group in NBA historical past to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven collection. In reality, throughout the 151 instances a collection has been at 3-0, the Celtics are solely the twenty second group to fall behind 3-0 with the next regular-season profitable proportion than their opponent. The prior two that did so: the Washington Capitols towards the Chicago Stags in 1947, and the Orlando Magic towards the Celtics in 2010.
Now, the Celtics will attempt to do one thing these groups could not: win in Miami on Saturday evening and produce this collection again right here for a Recreation 7 on Memorial Day.
“For some odd purpose, even final 12 months, we all the time appeared to make it a bit of bit harder on ourselves,” stated Jayson Tatum, who had 21 factors and dished out double-digit assists (11) for the primary time this postseason. “However what I do know is that you may see the true character of an individual, of a group when issues aren’t going properly, and our potential to come back collectively, determine issues out when it isn’t essentially trying good for us. It is in contrast to any group I have been on this 12 months and final 12 months, simply the core group of fellows having the ability to reply.
“I believe that is only a testomony to our togetherness, clearly how unhealthy we would like it, and we have a room stuffed with decided, robust guys that push involves shove, you look to the left and the proper of you, consider that the man subsequent to you goes to do no matter it takes and go down preventing if it do not work out.”
In Video games 4 and 5, Boston has resembled the group that performed so properly the primary seven-plus months of the season.
After taking pictures 29% from 3-point vary in Video games 1-3, the Celtics have hit not less than 40% within the final two, together with a 16-for-39 displaying (41%) Thursday evening. Boston is now 38-2 this season when it hits not less than 40% of its 3-pointers; it is 29-31 when it would not.
Turnovers additionally had been key once more. The Celtics pressured 16 Warmth turnovers in Recreation 4, turning them into 27 factors. In Recreation 5, they pressured … 16 Warmth turnovers that turned 27 factors.
And their scoring was balanced. For the primary time all season (common season or playoffs), the Celtics had 4 gamers end with not less than 20 factors — Derrick White (24), Marcus Sensible (23), Tatum and Brown.
“I believe we simply constantly received attractiveness at present,” White stated. “[We were] in a position to get out and run, make that further cross, and if you get seems like that with the shooters we have now, we’ll make them greater than miss.
“Simply proceed to make that further cross and discover the proper man.”
Boston has been on a curler coaster of feelings for a number of weeks; it is both gained or misplaced consecutive instances over its final 11 video games, courting to Recreation 2 of the Japanese Convention semifinals towards the Philadelphia 76ers on Might 3.
The Celtics additionally continued on a doubtlessly history-making path. Solely three groups have pressured a Recreation 7 after being down 3-0: the New York Knicks towards the Rochester Royals in 1991; the Denver Nuggets towards the Utah Jazz in 1994; and the Portland Path Blazers towards the Dallas Mavericks in 2003.
Boston is now 48 minutes away from turning into the fourth.
And whereas the Celtics have struggled mightily on the Backyard the previous two years within the playoffs (11-11), they have been a very totally different group away from house. Together with their Recreation 4 victory, the Celtics are 13-7 on the highway because the begin of the 2022 playoffs, and have gained 4 consecutive highway elimination video games.
They’re going to look to make that 5 with a win in Miami on Saturday.
“It is going to take every little thing,” Brown stated. “It is going to be a dogfight. I think about these guys will play higher than they performed tonight, and they will come out aggressive.
“We have to be able to take their punch at house. We have to be able to be resilient and are available out and do what we’re imagined to do.”
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