The Boston Celtics are still alive despite the fact that history is against them. They’re taking it one day at a time, and they’re only two wins away after falling into the hole in the NBA Eastern Conference finals. “Win or die,” recalled Joe Mazzulla, his rookie coach. Massachusetts has been known to be a rollercoaster of a franchise in these games, and it’s clear that 11 consecutive games have resulted in multiple wins or losses.
In the first semifinal loss against the 76ers, the two were in top form and were feeling head over heels. Then two others fell and found themselves in water up to their necks, but in the sixth and seventh they were able to control themselves against the heat. They’ve lost three in a row and now they’re wondering what no one did.
“Although for a new reason, last year too, we always made it a little harder for us than it already is,” reflected Jayson Tatum after contributing 21 points and 11 assists in the win.
The Celtic test was full of praise for the group and their ability to produce the best in the worst moments: “It’s a testament to our union, how much we love it. We have a locker room full of tough and determined guys, who are they? You look left and right and you think the guy next to you will do whatever it takes and go down fighting if don’t work out”.
If they win Game 6 in Miami, Boston will continue on their way to history. Only three teams forced a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in the playoffs. The New York Knicks against the Rochester Royals in 1991, the Denver Nuggets against the Utah Jazz in 1994 and the Portland Trail Blazers against the Dallas Mavericks in 2003. No one ultimately won the battle.
“We couldn’t have been in a worse situation, but we looked around, we didn’t go every single way. We stuck together,” celebrated Jaylen Brown, who scored 20 points in the fifth. “When adversity hits us, we can see what this team is made of. We need everyone and they’re going to be dogs. You’re ready to take the hammer at home and you’re going to be soft, go out there. Do what you play.”
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