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There Is No Need To Sugarcoat It, The Boston Celtics Season Is On The Line Tonight

Tim Nwachukwu. Getty Images.

Well folks, this is it. 

The Boston Celtics woke up this morning with their season at a crossroads. There are 2 options and 2 options only for them today.

1. Win Game 3 and get back into this series

2. Lose Game 3 and your season is over

That is what today's 48 minutes will dictate. Win, and you're down 2-1 after three games the exact same way you were last ECF. Everything is still alive. Lose, and you've officially pulled a Lakers and it's a wrap for you. 

While things may have been more of a true "win or go home" the two times they were down 2-3 last year and then again this year against the Sixers, make no mistake, 0-3 is about as "go home" as it gets without actually losing 4 games. We all know the line. No team in the history of the NBA has ever made a 3-0 comeback. The Celts already have to make NBA history by coming back down 0-2 after dropping their first two at home, I do not need any additional history to have to be made. This will be tough enough as is. 

That is how today needs to be treated. Consider it an elimination game. Play as if there's no tomorrow. For the first time in this series, play a full 48 fucking minutes. The margin for error is gone, but there's no point in harping on the past. Games 1 & 2 are over. You can't change those, but the Celts can do something about their future. It's up to them to either show up and get it done, or everything they've worked for this entire year is cooked.

People can talk about Xs and Os from Joe or rotations or any of that shit, but to me, that's not truly what today is about. 

Today is about pride. 

Today is about guts. 

Today is about punching back. 

We know the Heat smell blood, we know they've been the better team through 2 games, we know that crowd is going to be jacked up, we know the Heat are going to most likely come with their best performance of the series. None of that should be a surprise to any Celtic that touches the floor tonight.

Game 3 is about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown playing up to their talent level and leading by example. Offensively, defensively, it all starts with them. They set the tone, and in what is without a doubt the biggest game of the season, this is why they get paid the big bucks. This is why they made All NBA. With their backs against the wall, the best players need to show up. Period. Not for a quarter, not for two quarters, not at the start of the game only to disappear late. They can do it, we've seen them do it.

Game 3 is about guys like Marcus Smart doing more good than harm. Take care of the ball, dictate the pace, and help your teammates succeed. This is not a time for boneheaded passes or careless turnovers. It's not a time for low percentage looks or an inability to guard your yard. If this team gets a Good Marcus game where he actually makes a positive and tangible impact, they can win.

Game 3 is about guys like Al Horford and Robert Williams ensuring this team does not get killed on the glass. Defensively, they need to be as lock down as we've seen this entire playoff run. Limit 2nd and 3rd chances, contest shots, rebound, and most importantly, do not bite on fakes. Tony Brothers is working today, so everyone needs to be cautious. For Al, please just make an open shot. For Rob, play with energy and with force, just like you did in Game 2.

Game 3 is about the other role guys simply doing what they've done all year. Between White, Brogdon and now Grant, they need to not only outplay the Heats role players (something that has not happened yet), but they need to be the group that helps create that separation we saw during the year. That was the whole point of adding this depth. For this team to be successful and win on the road, the production of the depth is crucial. We just saw what the Heats guys were able to do in Boston. Strus, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, they showed up on the road. For the Celts to stay alive, their role players will have to do the same.

Game 3 is about Joe being ready to adapt. It's not just about timeouts, it's about doing what needs to be done given how the game is going. If that's a lineup change, make it. If that's a timeout to stop a run, call it. If that means a change in strategy, he cannot be stubborn. There is no more room for any of that shit. There is no need to be different. As important as it is for the players to be on their Ps and Qs tonight, the same is true for Joe. We saw it in Game 6 & 7 last series, we need to see it again tonight.

The formula for this team to be successful has not changed, nor will it ever change. All I am asking is they simply play to their potential on both ends for an entire game. That is enough to win. That means getting stops on one end and not playing like a bunch of dickheads on the other. That means trusting your teammates and not trying to go 1 on 5. That means valuing every single possession. That means communicating and figuring things out together.

Through 2 games, the Celtics have folded under the pressure. They were punched in the face and never found a way to punch back. That needs to end tonight. It means nothing to be "the more talented" team on paper. Who gives a shit about that right now. Talent means nothing if you don't live up to it.

That is what I need the Celts to do tonight. Live up to your talent and get back into this series. Make the Heat start to feel a little pressure. If not, your season is essentially over and that's just fact.