BOSTON — Before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was requested about his crew’s mindset getting into a second straight elimination sport.
“Just win or die,” he stated.
After a dominant efficiency Thursday night time, the Celtics are nonetheless alive.
Boston took management from the beginning and by no means seemed again, taking pictures over 50% from the sphere, forcing the Miami Heat into 16 turnovers that grew to become 27 factors and having 4 gamers end with at the least 20 factors in a wire-to-wire, 110- 99 victory in entrance of a raucous crowd on the sold-out TD Garden.
“Our back has been against the wall,” stated Jaylen Brown, who completed with 21 factors. “Obviously, we didn’t imagine being in this position, being down 3-0, but when adversity hits, you get to see what a team is really made of.
“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 one step closer to becoming the first team in NBA history to erase a 3–0 deficit and win a best-of-seven series. In fact, across the 151 times a series has been at 3–0, the Celtics are only the 22nd team to fall behind 3–0 with a higher regular-season winning percentage than their opponent. The prior two that did so: the Washington Capitols against the Chicago Stags in 1947, and the Orlando Magic against the Celtics in 2010.
Now, the Celtics will try to do something those teams couldn’t: win in Miami on Saturday night and bring this series back here for a Game 7 on Memorial Day.
“For some odd cause, even final 12 months, we all the time appeared to make it a little bit more durable on ourselves,” said Jayson Tatum, who had 21 points and dished out double-digit assists (11) for the first time this postseason. “But what I do know is which you can see the true character of a particular person, of a crew, when issues aren’t going properly, and our means to come collectively, determine issues out when it isn’t essentially wanting good for us. It’s in contrast to any crew I’ve been on this 12 months and final 12 months, simply the core group of men having the ability to reply.
“I think that’s just a testament to our togetherness, obviously how bad we want it, and we’ve got a room full of determined, tough guys that push comes to shove, you look to the left and the right of you, believe that the guy next to you is going to do whatever it takes and go down fighting if it doesn’t work out.”
In Games 4 and 5, Boston has resembled the crew that performed so properly the primary seven-plus months of the season.
After taking pictures 29% from 3-point vary in Games 1-3, the Celtics have hit at the least 40% within the final two, together with a 16-for-39 exhibiting (41%) Thursday night time. Boston is now 38-2 this season when it hits at the least 40% of its 3-pointers; it is 29-31 when it would not.
Turnovers had been additionally key once more. The Celtics pressured 16 Heat turnovers in Game 4, turning them into 27 factors. In Game 5, they pressured … 16 Heat turnovers that was 27 factors.
And their scoring was balanced. For the primary time all season (common season or playoffs), the Celtics had 4 gamers end with at the least 20 factors — Derrick White (24), Marcus Smart (23), Tatum and Brown.
“I think we just consistently got good looks today,” White stated. ,[We were] in a position to get out and run, make that further move, and while you get appears to be like like that with the shooters we’ve got, we’re going to make them greater than miss.
“Just keep making that extra pass and find the right guy.”
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 Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers on May 3.
The Celtics additionally continued on a doubtlessly history-making path. Only three groups have pressured a Game 7 after being down 3–0: the New York Knicks in opposition to the Rochester Royals in 1991, the Denver Nuggets in opposition to the Utah Jazz in 1994 and the Portland Trail Blazers in opposition to 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 Garden the previous two years within the playoffs (11-11), they have been a completely totally different crew away from dwelling. Including their Game 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’ll look to make that 5 with a win in Miami on Saturday.
“It’s going to take everything,” Brown stated. “It’s going to be a dogfight. I imagine those guys will play better than they played tonight, and they’re going to come out aggressive.
“We’ve acquired to be prepared to take their punch at dwelling. We’ve acquired to be prepared to be resilient and are available out and do what we’re supposed to do.”