Well folks, here we are. Two days ago, we were all praying to whichever God you felt could help that the Celts would find a way to earn the right to keep their season alive and play a Game 6.
Welcome to Game 6.
These last two days have brought me every possible emotion known to man. The things I have allowed my brain to think and in turn convince myself that they can and will actually happen are extremely dangerous. I've been looking at this series from every possible angle, some of which are theories I may or may not have made up as I continued to lose my mind, but this has been me since Thursday night
Allow me to run you all through it. Part of me thinks there's some people reading this blog that had some of these same thoughts, so if that's the case just know there are other people like you out there. We are all in this together.
Let's start with some good news.
The 2023 Boston Celtics have won 4 games in a row on 7 different occasions this season. The idea of this team winning 4 in a row is not something that I would call a foreign concept. I also wouldn't say it's something that can be assumed to happen either. But it is something they have done…..7 different times. I can't just ignore that.
The 2023 Miami Heat have lost 4 in a row on 2 different occasions this season. It may not happen often, but MIA losing 4 in a row is not something that I would call a foreign concept. So right off the bat, both teams have experience in doing what you as a Celtics fan want to happen.
That was encouraging to learn.
But don't get ahead of yourself here. May 27th is a significant date, not just because it's Game 6 of the 2023 ECF, but because it was also Game 6 of the 2022 ECF. We all remember what happened in that game correct?
This is the Jimmy Butler I am expecting to see tonight. I don't know how you could go into this game thinking any other way. My thought is the Celts are going to have to beat the Heat at their best, and the Heat at their best means monster Jimmy Butler performances. If you want keep your season alive, you have to be prepared to overcome a giant Playoff Jimmy game.
Can you think of something that might be helpful in this situation? On the road, in a huge Game 6 with the season on the line against a player who has been known to go supernova in these moments? I can think of something. How about your own Game 6 monster
You fight fire with fire. The way Jayson Tatum has played in these last two games on both ends, that is what gives me the most hope. Game 6 is going to require some bucket getting in addition to All NBA caliber defense, but that is something I have personally witnessed him do on several occasions, just this postseason.
In looking at this matchup, there's another angle that I simply could not ignore. In each of the last 2 ECF meetings between these two teams, the Celtics won Game 5 each time by exactly 13 points.
They both lost Game 6. If you go back to the 2012 ECF, the Celtics won that Game 5 (by 4 points), and then lost Game 6.
I have to be honest, I don't love that pattern. That makes me fairly nervous given the 2023 Celtics won their Game 5 by 13 points. That all bench lineup over the final 2 minutes really fucked us there. You couldn't make one more basket or get one more stop? Now I have to spend all day worrying about this shit?
If you instead choose to be a rational person with a brain, you could instead focus on the basketball side of this matchup instead. For the Celtics to force a Game 7, the formula remains the same. It starts with their mentality. They put together two wins and the narrative started to change right? Now all the talk became about the Celtics making history. They were going to pull off the comeback, they achieved something etc.
There is no team in the league that is more of a victim of their own success than our beloved Boston Celtics.
We knew on the very first possession that the Celts were locked in with the right mindset in Game 5. That did not look like a team that thought they accomplished something. That was a team that was going to fight for their life. We need to see the exact same mindset in Game 6 and I'm talking right from the jump. With the right mindset, everything else falls into place.
It's no secret that the foundation of the Celts Game 4 & 5 wins was their defense. Getting back to keeping a team under 100 instead of giving up 115+ is usually going to help you win. When the Celts have the right mindset, they know to lock in defensively. You can tell by how they play that they know everything stems from their defense. With that mindset you get smarter decisions and better effort. Guys aren't biting on Jimmy pump fakes and making him hit tough contested jumpers. The bigs are staying down on Bam and addressing him in P&R, while the guards are in sync to help during post ups in an effort to cause turnovers. Everyone is running the MIA shooters off the 3PT line while also doing a great job of staying attached off screens.
With that mindset and high caliber defense, suddenly the offense opens up. It's all connected. When the Celts generate stops and get out in transition, they become a tidal wave. When they feel good about themselves the ball zips around, everyone trusts one another and once a 3PM off great ball movement goes down, it's as if this team generates more power. That is why just like every single game they play against the Heat, turnovers and ball security is the largest factor. Just look at this series, the team that turns it over a shit ton loses. The Celts have been great with that for the most part in their two wins, and it needs to continue or their season is over.
Now this all sounds great, but there's also the other reality. There's a very good chance the Heat don't cough it up 16 times for 27 points. There's a strong chance they're going to fire off more than 23 3PA tonight, and my guess is they'll make a pretty high clip. It's entirely in the realm of possibility that the Celts can't buy a bucket just like in Games 1 & 2 while also turning it over way too much. That's all on the table.
Which is exactly why this game is so terrifying. You could tell me any possible scenario and I'd have to believe you. Every game this series has basically been one team being great and the other sucking ass, so my gut tells me this is the game where both teams are maybe at their best. Get this shit back to Boston and let the chips fall where they may.
Love and Trust.