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The Fact That The Boston Celtics Are Now Just One Win From The NBA Finals Is Both Incredible And Extremely Terrifying All At Once

Jesse D. Garrabrant. Getty Images.

Has it sunk in yet for you? I won't speak for anyone else or anything, but I am still drunk as shit off Celts Kool Aid. There is so much green pumping through my veins at this moment that it'll make your head spin. The Celtics high I am on right now would kill a lesser man. That's where we are this morning. The job isn't finished, in fact, the hardest win to get is the one the Celts now need, but it's also OK to take a second on this off day and appreciate what is happening. I thought this tweet summed it up nicely

This does not happen. This is not normal. From 18-21 to a win away from the NBA Finals. Not only that, but you look DOMINANT on your way there. We all knew that given what transpired in Game 3, that Game 5 was the Celts chance to redeem themselves. They were going to have to win on the road at some point over these next 3 games, and I think we all preferred that to happen in Game 5. The thing is, the Celts rarely do what we hope they would. They love to make their lives harder on themselves for no apparent reason other than it's the only way they know how to live.

Or so I thought.

Finally, this team won two games in a row by building off a win. I guess that's what happens when you finally get to play your normal starting five for the first time since Game 3 of the Bucks series. That was May 11th! Despite the fact that it technically wasn't a "must win", I thought the Celts had the perfect mental approach in this game. When things weren't going their way, they didn't sulk. They didn't complain (all that much). They played. When you can't hit a shot to save your life, it's a good thing you can rely on the best defense on the planet to keep you in games until your offense rolls around.

The crazy part is I wouldn't even say the Celts played all that well for a full 48 minutes. The final 24 sure, but I've seen this team look and play better. To be able to go on the road and take a pivotal game like this is just so massive when you don't even play your best game. This series has had a consistent theme all the way through up until this point. The only team that is going to beat the Boston Celtics is the Boston Celtics. The Heat simply cannot match their ceiling. Part of that is injuries, part of that is roster construction, but I do know that I don't give a shit. Tough luck. Injuries happen. Build a better roster with better depth where you don't have to rely on 36 year olds. Not only are the Celts also banged up, but I will NEVER feel sorry for another team or fanbase that has to deal with injuries in a postseason run. As a Celtics fan? Given everything we live through each year? Welcome to the playoffs.

Of course, winning Game 5 doesn't mean dick if you can't close the deal, and I think they know that. This was just a much needed step in that process. They once again have created a fantastic and golden opportunity to advance to the NBA Finals. You've done the hard part, you got the road win. Now just take care of your shit on your home floor and you've finally broken through. It's insane that is a sentence I could legit type and not be called a homer. That is their reality at the moment.

We can worry about Game 6 immediately after the conclusion of this blog. Right now, it's time to relive one of the biggest wins of the year.

The Good

- It's pretty simple, if you are going to put this entire team/franchise/fanbase/city on your back to start a basketball game as a reserve player, you get rewarded with the top spot. Derrick fucking White ladies and gentlemen. What a trade, what a player, what a moment

Let's be VERY clear about something. Derrick White saved this game and perhaps the season with his Game 5 performance. I don't know how else to really say it. Tatum and Brown could not make a shot, they couldn't stop turning it over, so what does White do? He comes out aggressive and plays about as perfectly as you could ask. The one thing that we know to be true with Derrick is that while his three point shot is what I would call…inconsistent…the second he decides to play with force and gets into the paint, great things happen. It's all about paint touches for White. I trust his floater game with my life, but I also trust his ability to recognize the lob if the backline defender rotates up. The Heat perimeter defenders stink so it's not like he can't get into the paint whenever he wants, and the results speak for themselves. His 11/3 on 5-6 shooting in the first half is what kept this team alive, and just take a look at his shot chart. The Celts may have really found something in terms of having White be the roll man in P&R, because look at this shit

Uh, that seems pretty fucking perfect to me.

A game like this, and really his last two games, are why all I can do is shake my head in confusion at the people who didn't like this trade because of a 2027 pick swap or whatever. As if bringing in a winning player to help win now and fill a need was stupid because some 6th grader might get drafted by the Celtics one day. Meanwhile, Derrick White is winning you playoff games. His defense on Max Strus has been legit incredible which doesn't sound all that impressive on the surface, but when you watch it I don't know how you couldn't be impressed. The way White is navigating over screens and sticking to Strus at all times has completely eliminated him from the equation 

for a team that has issues generating halfcourt offense, that's been a huge twist these last two games and White deserves a shit ton of credit for it.

I think we're at the point where we cannot rule out the postseason baby Fred VanVleet Dad Strength effect. He was having a brutal series until his kid, and then he turned into a legit basketball god. Are we sure that's not also happening right now to Derrick White? This dude was shooting like 9% from three, had his kid and now looks incredible. That feels related and while I can't prove it I've also seen enough to fully buy in even without proving it.

- Then there's Al. Playoff Al is quickly becoming a top 5 thing to ever happen to my life. He's so steady. He's always ready and as awesome as all of this is for me and my own personal agendas, I am mostly happy for Al.

This shouldn't be happening at 35 years old. Once again he helped ensure Bam basically wasn't a factor, and then on the offensive end all this dude does is come up with huge bucket after huge bucket. Al finished with 16/7/5 on 5-8 (1-3) and things are now at a point where Horford is leading coast to coast fastbreaks against 3 Heat defenders only to end up with a beautiful and very much needed three point play. I think we all were under the impression that playing every other day would be a nightmare for Al's legs and overall energy level……..and he just keeps getting better. 

The fact that they aren't wasting this opportunity for Al also makes me so happy. All he does is come to work, do his job at an elite level, support his teammates and be the ultimate professional. A guy like that deserves to make the Finals and win a ring. After all the shit he had to hear from those morons in Philly about being washed, no no. He's not washed. He's perfect. I'll forever be in debt to Sam Presti for shutting down Al last year because here we are basically in June and this man looks FANTASTIC. 

- Listen I get that the Heat kind of stink offensively, but I also know that the Celts are making their life hell. Another game where they can't even break 82 points, they shot 31.9/15.6% from the floor, and they scored just 38 points after the break. It's pretty clear they have figured out Jimmy Butler offensively, and now when we see him drive they are staying home and not biting on his pump fakes once he hits the paint. That's all they did in Game 1 and Butler feasted at the line. Last night they didn't, he shot 4-18 and only took 4 FTA. Again, people will talk about injury, but I'm sorry, everyone is injured right now. He's just been bad. It's OK to say Jimmy Butler has been bad. You don't need to make excuses for him. He played 40 minutes in this game, so I'm not really interested in hearing it.

The reality is the Celts saw on film where they had to adjust in order to keep him in check, and that's been the case ever since Game 1. Especially with Rob on the floor, the length is an issue for this entire Heat team, but especially Jimmy. This is to a team filled with shot creators, and the Celts defense WANTS you so go isolation. That is how they win.

- There are no two ways about it, both Tatum and Brown were complete dogshit in the first half. Some of the most disgusting and frustrating basketball you'll ever see. But that's why they play 48 minutes and not 24. Because when this team needed them to snap out of their funk and carry, boy did they

Allow me to put their second half into perspective for you. As a duo, Tatum/Brown scored 37 points on 14-23 shooting with a combined 3 TOs (all Tatum). As a team, the Miami Heat scored 38 points over the course of the entire second half. Not the starters, the entire roster.

Yes, that's right. The Jays nearly outscored their entire team by themselves. 

Talk about a turnaround. This is why we love and trust though. Their talent is too great to play that poorly for a full game. What I love is that they recognized the opportunity and snapped out of their funk at the perfect time. Jaylen's shot making was pretty nuts. The way Tatum remained engaged despite his poor shooting start (22/12/9) was exactly what the team needed. The way he was passing the ball was beautiful. Remember that team exec called him selfish? What a fucking idiot. With Jaylen, for my money, the best part of his dunk was the brief second we got this face

God is that sweet. Suck it Riley. Oh, and one more thing. All that crying about Bam not being the DPOY from Heat fans and he doesn't even challenge that dunk? I know this, Marcus Smart tries to block that dunk. If he gets dunked on he gets dunked on. That's why some people talk about being the DPOY and others actually become the DPOY.

Then after the game, we got a look into how much these two have matured and grown as leaders. Tell me this isn't exactly what you wanted to hear after a win like this

You forget that despite being young, these two are battle tested. They've been molded by playoff pain and playoff failures. You can see it not just with how they are playing, but their mindset and how they are talking. They've won series down 2-3 and they've lose series up 3-2. They've won and lost Game 7s. Watching what they can do on the floor and then hearing this type of approach off the floor has me ready to run through a wall for these two. They are so close to breaking through and they know it. 

- The Celts broke this game wide open in the second half not only because they started making shots, but because they finally took care of the basketball. We keep saying it because it keeps being true. If this team doesn't turn the ball over, the Heat can't win. In the first half you want to know why they had their lead? Because the Celts gave up 10 TOs for 12 MIA points. They also wouldn't stop giving up OREB which led to 16 points. That was 28 of their 42 point total.

In the second half, only 5 TOs. That led to only 5 Heat points. It's not a hard concept that I hope they carry into Game 6. Play smart, take care of the basketball, and you advance. It's clear as day.

- A huge part of that second half blowout was the fact that they wasted no time chipping into that lead and taking control. I'm talking right away on the first possession Ime ran the lob for Rob play, only he did it for Al. Their ability to eliminate the 5 point deficit in basically 120 seconds was huge

All I can say is the team we saw come out of the break is the team we are used to. The one that plays hard, plays smart, make shots and then gets nothing but stops on the other end. When the Celts are doing all of those things at once, I'm just not sure anyone can beat them. 

- Especially when they have their starting five. That means Robert Williams is back and when he's active, good luck

I keep saying it and I will continue to say it for the rest of my life. Rob is incredible. In his 26 minutes he finished with 2/10 and 3 blocks while making both his FTs. If you watch the game though, you saw his impact. Teams don't want to even consider fucking with him once they get into the paint. They are thinking more about where the hell he's going to come flying in from than actually focusing on their shot, and then you realize it doesn't matter if it's at the rim or behind the line from deep, Rob is STILL going to block everything. He's the true difference-maker in this series and I'm not sure that's debatable. When this team has their five guys, the Heat stand no chance and that has now been proven

They are now 5-0 against the Heat this season with their normal starting five active, and every single one has been a blowout. In those 5 games, they have a +105 differential. 

- What we are witnessing this team do on the road is becoming historic

Not even the 2008 team was doing this shit. They had 3 road wins during their entire run if I remember correctly. Everywhere you look, this team is showing us signs of being truly special

They win at home, they win on the road, and they do so comfortably. That shouldn't be possible in the postseason, yet the Celts now have at least 2 road wins in EACH playoff series this year. That is insane. 

The Bad

- I feel pretty confident in putting the entire first half experience in this section. God was that annoying. I can handle the missed shots, that shit happens. Guys are tired, defenses are juiced up, tough building to play in, that's all fine. But the turnovers, I mean enough already. I have no idea what happened to Jaylen's handle this series/playoffs, but I need that shit figured out immediately. You don't think every team from now on is just going to play super into his body and wait for him to make a mistake? 

It wasn't just his dribbling though, it was kind of everyone. Tatum making passes in traffic when the passing lane isn't even there, it was all just so frustrating since we know the only way this team loses is if they shoot themselves in the foot. You had that and combine it with allowing PJ Tucker & Co to live on the offensive glass, and the Celts were doing everything they possibly could in that first half to get blown out. Thankfully, the Heat couldn't make a jump shot. That was huge.

- At this point we all know the Celts are going to shoot a lot of threes, but I did not love their shot profile for much of those first 24 minutes. About half of their FGA were 3PA, they were 4-16, and while some are obviously going to come in the flow of the offense, it did feel like there was a little too much settling going on early. It's like they wanted to see if they could deliver the knockout punch early rather than just playing. That happened in the second half for sure, but because they attacked first and shot threes second. Making sure to have the right balance is going to be very important in Game 6. 

You don't need homeruns all the time. Make the Heat prove they can consistently score on you, so if that means you take 2pt FGA then so be it.

- I would just like to know what has to happen for Bam to be called for an illegal screen. Legit question. I've never seen anything like it. I'd say no fewer than 80% of his screens are very clearly illegal. You know it, I know it, Heat fans know it. So I don't want to hear anything about the officials or FTA in this game. Bam legit should have fouled out in the second quarter. He's allowed to move, he's allowed to create contact, it's been that way all series. The few threes the Heat did make pretty much all came off illegal screens. Sorry if that offends.

- This is mostly a me problem I get it, but what's the deal with getting back to missing 6+ FTA. Only 73% last night with 6 more misses, there's just something about leaving points on the board while on the road in a huge game that never sits well with me. They are free. Tatum missed a couple, Al missed a couple, Jaylen missed his only FTA. You're playing with fire with that shit so please, focus.

- We used to live in a world where going 10-33 (30%) from three used to guarantee a loss. Now, it had no impact. Don't ask me to explain it, just go with it. The Celts shot the ball like shit for the majority of this game and still won. That is what matters.

The Ugly

- I'm too happy right now to truly be upset about anything, so I guess we can throw Tatum/Brown's first half shooting in this section. I mean it was 3-16 (3-9) which is not exactly what I would call good. In fact, it was pretty ugly. Ultimately it didn't matter, but in real time I think we can all agree it made us all nervous as shit. It had all the signs of two guys laying an egg at the worst possible time. Thankfully they battled through it, but if I could ask for one thing for tomorrow night it's that they are awesome for the full 48. Just give me that please.

- I'm sure there are reasons, but only 6 minutes for Payton Pritchard in this game was weird. He was a DNP-CD in the second half. My only concern here is just the wear and tear and fatigue of those who played. Ime went with 7 guys in the second half and it worked, but I'm always thinking about that quick turnaround. Pritchard not even seeing the floor was a bit of a shock given the fact that he's been pretty good this series. My guess is Ime just wanted to ride with the defense/hot hand which was White, but that's something to monitor for tomorrow.

- An underrated part of #HeatCulture is leaving the game early when your team is getting waxed. You don't hear a lot about that, you hear more about the body fat rule or some shit, but that's sneaky as big a part of #HeatCulture as anything. It wasn't even truly over yet and that arena was emptying out. You could hear LETS GO CELTICS chants on TV. Woof. 

So here we go. This is it. One win away from the NBA Finals. It's all so crazy yet very, very real. All the questions of if this team can get over the hump can be answered tomorrow night. Just win at home and you get 5 days off before the Finals which is something EVERYONE needs. This is by far the best chance the Celts have had to win a title in over a decade, so now is not the time to fuck around. Don't play with your food and go for the kill and the Revenge Tour will roll on. 

Love and Trust.