Alright, everyone stay calm. Stay fucking calm. My law I am required to tell you to not get ahead of yourself. 2 wins is not 4 wins. Game 6 is going to be the toughest game of the series. The Celtics have done nothing other than earn the right to play another day. Game 4 didn't mean shit if they didn't back it up by also taking Game 5, and Game 5 doesn't matter unless they also go down to Miami and take Game 6.
Can they do it? If they play like these last two games they can. For the Celts to complete this historic comeback, they were going to have to be elite on both ends of the floor for an entire 48 minutes. Being good wasn't going to cut it. They needed to be dominant. What we saw was a wire to wire performance that kept the season alive
Two things have changed through Games 4 & 5 that have gotten the Celtics back into this series.
The first is their defense. It's where everything will always start. For this team to play to their potential, they need to get back to their elite defensive roots. Another game holding a team to under 100, another win. The Celts forced 16 TOs, had 13 steals and 9 blocks. The reason they got off to their great start wasn't just the shot making, it's that those shots were coming off of momentum stops. When it came to the margin plays, the Celts were the first to the floor almost every single time to the point where the only way to really describe it is they imposed their will. The Celts were not reactionary tonight, they were the ones who punched first.
The second thing that has changed is the team shooting has come back to normal. One of the main reasons the Celts are even in this position is because they shot 29% from three as a team, making around 10 a night. Well, they shot 18-45 in Game 4 and 16-39 tonight. They got back to playing Mazzulla Ball. That ball movement early? When this team respects the pass and loves and trusts one another, the threes start dropping. Once the threes start dropping, it's really hard to beat this team if they are also getting stops on the other end.
On a night when everyone needed to show up, nobody did that more than the starting backcourt. The play of Marcus Smart and Derrick White on both ends of the floor set the tone for everyone
Both were efficient. Both were everywhere defensively. Both guys made huge shots when needed. As we saw all year long, when the Celts get elite guard play, it's a wrap. That is the ultimate head of the snake position. With Malcolm Brogdon now cooked, the offense from these two players becomes even more important. I'm not saying they need 49, but they have to keep playing Smart. Attacking the paint when it's there and taking open threes with confidence. As awesome as the Jays may have been, it was the guard play that was the biggest factor in this win in my opinion.
Speaking of the Jays, not bad!
The way Jayson Tatum was passing the ball tonight was porn. Patience, making the right read, trusting his teammates, it was everything you want from a guy who commands so much attention. With Jaylen, what a much needed performance from him. That's now back to back games we're getting a normal Jaylen Brown and both games were blowouts. His defense was 10000% better, he went 50/60% and once again only had 1 TO. That is the version of Jaylen Brown the Celts need the rest of the way.
In the history of teams with a 3-0 lead, we've only seen someone force a Game 6 a total of 11 times. That number is now 12. Down 3-2 in the Conference Finals with a spot in the Finals on the line. Suddenly this position feels a whole lot more familiar. With the Heat starting to feel the pressure I would imagine, this is it. Find a way to get this thing back to Boston and the Finals is still on the table. If it were me, I would immediate forget about these 2 wins. It's not about getting 2 more wins, it's about getting 1 more win and living to see another day.
With their backs up against the wall, the Celts could have quit. They could have hopped on that plane to Cancun. Instead, they chose to fight, and now they enter Game 6 with even more life.
Of course, momentum only matters if you do something with it. But if the Celts are going to look like the Celts again, then we have ourselves a goddamn series.