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The Celtics Enter Tonight's MASSIVE Game 4 With An Opportunity Of A Lifetime And That Is Absolutely Terrifying

Nathaniel S. Butler. Getty Images.

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I've been trying my hardest to keep perspective. Every two seconds I find myself repeating the words

"2 wins is not 4 wins. 3 wins is not 4 wins"

over and over and over. I think it's important to remind both my brain and my heart that there is still so much basketball yet to be played in these NBA Finals. Things are still a toss up as far as I'm concerned. The 2-1 Celts lead may as well not exist. A single game can still massively swing this series. One bad quarter and the entire feel of this Finals can change. 

When the Celts stole Game 1, it created a favorable path to the NBA title on paper. The thing about basketball though, is that it is not played on paper. They were going to have to earn it. They were going to have to show up and execute. What we saw in Game 3 was a team that was ready for the challenge. We talked before that game about how important of a "swing game" it was, and the Celts came out swinging. Considering this team refuses to lose 2 games in a row, I think on most levels we expected to see that type of effort and execution from this group.

But now comes the harder part.

Part of the advantage that was created after Game 1 was the idea that the Celts had to protect homecourt in order for it to work. To do that, you need both Games 3 & 4. Just like after the opener, the Celts winning Game 3 has created an even more favorable path to the NBA title on paper. Just 2 wins to go with 2 of the next 3 games at the Garden. The Warriors currently need to win 3 of the next 4 in order to win the NBA title. The Celts, and us fans are feeling things we haven't felt in over a decade. So why do I feel like I want to vomit? I should be excited right? I mean this is the closest the Celts have been to a title in a very, very long time.

Like I said, now comes the hard part.

It's no secret the Celts have spent the last two and a half series really struggling to capitalize off wins. It's both bizarre and extremely frustrating. Coming off a big win, they say all the right things. They talk about needing to play with urgency and focus and come with the right energy. Sadly, the results don't always match that. I think that's the basis of all of our nerves today. Playing at home up 2-1, you would think it's time to step on throats and really take control. But I also think we all feel way more confident about this team coming off a loss than we do a huge win. It's just a weird trend of this playoff run, sort of like how the 2008 Celtics never seemed to be able to win a road game (only 3 road wins the entire run) despite being dominant. 

Now, just because they've struggled in this spot in previous series, does not mean they'll go that route in the Finals. Every series is different. The circumstances are different, the rosters are different, the strategy is different. There's no denying what currently sits in front of this Celtics team. A potential 3-1 lead is beyond massive. Going to the Bay up 3-1 instead of 2-2 where the next time we see the Celts at the Garden they could be down 3-2 is monumental. I don't know much in life, but I know this. When you have a chance to tighten the screws on the Golden State Warriors, you have to do it. If you don't, you're only asking for trouble. The way the Celts punched back in Game 3 gives me a weird sense of confidence that they understand this. Tatum/Brown are so close to the top of the mountain, they look and sound like two guys who understand the moment. While remembering that 3 wins is not 4 wins, it seems crazy to think as well as the Celts are playing that they would lose 3 games in a row. It's always possible, but seems unlikely. That is why tonight is so important. Who knows how many times in your career you'll be in this position. This close to a title with all the momentum and the favorable path all at the same time is not something to fuck around with.

What this series has shown us is that if the Celts play the right way, they are basically unstoppable. Just don't play like assholes, that's the formula. Play normal. Take care of the ball, rebound, move the ball, and play with energy and effort for a full 48. We know the Warriors are going to punch back tonight. We know Draymond & Co are going to try and up the physicality just like they did in Game 2. This is why winning a title is hard, as close as it may feel, you need to keep going. You can't let up even for a second, especially against this Warriors team. Steph is terrifying, Klay can still get hot, they haven't had the big Jordan Poole scoring game yet. Taking your foot off the gas cannot happen tonight, and if they play the way we know they can, the Celts will have a 3-1 lead in this series.

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Naturally, I have many concerns about tonight. How does Rob's knee respond to the quicker turnaround? Are Al's legs going to be fresh? Can this team play smart and not turn the ball over? Will they start off cold and tight because of how big the moment is? Will Steph rip by heart out? Will they continue the approach of playing inside/out to maximize their clear size advantage? Will Draymond hurt someone in some sort of fake tough guy act? Considering how long we have until tip off, my brain is going to go insane thinking about all this shit.

I think we can all agree, this is the biggest game of the season. For some, it's the biggest game of our lives until we get to Game 5. The Boston Celtics are 2 wins away from an NBA championship, and if they take care of their business that number gets cut in half. I am begging, literally begging that this team resists the urge to believe their own hype heading into tonight. Seize the moment and step on GS's throat. Put their feet to the fire and really put the pressure on. That's what winning Game 4 will do. Going back 2-2 gives them life and confidence, two things I in no way want them to have. 

To reach the top of the mountain, you have to take down the Final Boss. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best, that's how this works. There isn't a more terrifying Final Boss than Steph Curry and the Warriors, but tonight the Celts have the opportunity to put them on life support. Let us pray.

Love and Trust.

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