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The Celtics' Mission Tonight Is Clear: Win Game 5 And Punch Your Ticket To The Eastern Conference Finals

Brian Babineau. Getty Images.

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The mission is clear. 

Win Game 5, and advance to the 6th Eastern Conference Finals in the last 8 seasons.

That's it. It doesn't matter how people say the Celts need to do it or how much they should win by. It doesn't matter if they are "impressed" or "scared" of you based on how you play. It doesn't matter who is in or out of the lineup or if someone has a "dawg" mentality.

What matters is winning. 

Ending this series as quickly as you can, letting guys like Al and KP continue to rest and rehab, and see if IND/NYK can go 7 games to earn you even more rest. That needs to be the focus. It's not often the Basketball Gods present you with this type of opportunity

and when they do, you have to capitalize on it. It's no different from a situation we saw last round, when the Celts dropped Game 2 at home, went on the road and won both Games 3 & 4, then returned home for a closeout Game 5. At the time, we all said the same thing

"Please don't play with your food"

"Show us you're ready to be serious and go for the kill"

"Win at home please"

The Celts went on to win Game 5 by a score of 118-84.

Fast forward to tonight. Another potential elimination game against a team that looks to be missing its best player

I think it's fair to suggest that all of us have been saying the same thing to ourselves all day

"Please don't play with your food"

"Show us you're ready to be serious and go for the kill"

"Win at home please"

We saw what can happen when the Celts aren't ready to go to start a game against an injury-plagued roster. They fucked around on Monday and found themselves in a battle. Sure they won it, but it was most definitely not their best brand of basketball. In games like this, you can expect the opponent to spam 3PA given the mountain they have to climb without their best offensive engine, and I think the hope is that given how Game 4 went, the mentality and focus will be much better tonight.

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Here's what we do know. When the Celts get to at least 3 wins in a playoff series during the Tatum/Brown era, they are 11-2. Once it gets to be closeout time in a series, they tend to deliver more often than not. I can understand the nerves given their beyond-frustrating inconsistency at home, but given we just saw this exact scenario play out last round, I'm choosing to be optimistic. 

There is too much at stake to allow this series to extend past Game 5. The rest for Al is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle given we still aren't totally sure when KP returns. All this talk about how the Celts have an easy path and blah blah blah, well you know who can help control that?

The Boston Celtics.

Win tonight and you set yourself up for a nice extended break while everyone around you continues to be in tough playoff battles. There's a chance you could have multiple Game 7s this round, so the best thing the Celts can do is help themselves. 

Don't get back on a plane to Ohio. Don't even bring a suitcase to the arena. End this shit tonight and relax until Game 1 of the ECF. There's a world where the Celts don't have to get on a plane for 10 days as long as they handle their shit tonight.

Winning Games 3 & 4 on the road was massive, but it means shit if you can't seal the deal. 

Play to your standards, play smart, and don't give them an ounce of life. The time for screwing around is over. Now is the time to bury your opponent and advance. 

Simple as that.