BOSTON — Earlier than Sport 5 of the Japanese Convention finals, Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was requested about his group’s mindset getting into a second straight elimination recreation.
“Simply win or die,” he mentioned.
After a dominant efficiency Thursday night time, the Celtics are nonetheless alive.
Boston took management from the beginning and by no means regarded again, capturing over 50% from the sphere, forcing the Miami Warmth into 16 turnovers that turned 27 factors and having 4 gamers end with at the least 20 factors in a wire-to-wire, 110-99 victory in entrance of a raucous crowd at sold-out TD Backyard.
“Our again has been in opposition to the wall,” mentioned Jaylen Brown, who completed with 21 factors. “Clearly, we did not think about being on this place, being down 3-0, however when adversity hits, you get to see what a group is actually product of.
“It could not worsen than being down 3-0, however we did not go searching, we did not go in separate instructions. We stayed collectively.”
The Celtics moved a step nearer to changing into the primary group in NBA historical past to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven collection. In actual fact, throughout the 151 instances a collection has been at 3-0, the Celtics are solely the twenty second group to fall behind 3-0 with the next regular-season successful proportion than their opponent. The prior two that did so: the Washington Capitols in opposition to the Chicago Stags in 1947, and the Orlando Magic in opposition to the Celtics in 2010.
Now, the Celtics will attempt to do one thing these groups could not: win in Miami on Saturday night time and convey this collection again right here for a Sport 7 on Memorial Day.
“For some odd motive, even final yr, we at all times appeared to make it a bit bit more durable on ourselves,” mentioned Jayson Tatum, who had 21 factors and dished out double-digit assists (11) for the primary time this postseason. “However what I do know is which you can see the true character of an individual, of a group when issues aren’t going properly, and our capability to return collectively, determine issues out when it isn’t essentially wanting good for us. It is in contrast to any group I have been on this yr and final yr, simply the core group of men having the ability to reply.
“I feel that is only a testomony to our togetherness, clearly how dangerous we would like it, and we have a room filled with decided, robust guys that push involves shove, you look to the left and the precise of you, imagine that the man subsequent to you goes to do no matter it takes and go down combating if it do not work out.”
In Video games 4 and 5, Boston has resembled the group that performed so properly the primary seven-plus months of the season.
After capturing 29% from 3-point vary in Video games 1-3, the Celtics have hit at the least 40% within the final two, together with a 16-for-39 displaying (41%) Thursday night time. Boston is now 38-2 this season when it hits at the least 40% of its 3-pointers; it is 29-31 when it does not.
Turnovers additionally had been key once more. The Celtics pressured 16 Warmth turnovers in Sport 4, turning them into 27 factors. In Sport 5, they pressured … 16 Warmth turnovers that turned 27 factors.
And their scoring was balanced. For the primary time all season (common season or playoffs), the Celtics had 4 gamers end with at the least 20 factors — Derrick White (24), Marcus Good (23), Tatum and Brown.
“I feel we simply persistently acquired beauty as we speak,” White mentioned. “[We were] capable of get out and run, make that further go, and while you get seems to be like that with the shooters now we have, we’ll make them greater than miss.
“Simply proceed to make that further go and discover the precise man.”
Boston has been on a curler coaster of feelings for a number of weeks; it is both gained or misplaced consecutive instances over its final 11 video games, relationship to Sport 2 of the Japanese Convention semifinals in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers on Could 3.
The Celtics additionally continued on a doubtlessly history-making path. Solely three groups have pressured a Sport 7 after being down 3-0: the New York Knicks in opposition to the Rochester Royals in 1991; the Denver Nuggets in opposition to the Utah Jazz in 1994; and the Portland Path Blazers in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks in 2003.
Boston is now 48 minutes away from changing into the fourth.
And whereas the Celtics have struggled mightily on the Backyard the previous two years within the playoffs (11-11), they have been a completely completely different group away from dwelling. Together with their Sport 4 victory, the Celtics are 13-7 on the street because the begin of the 2022 playoffs, and have gained 4 consecutive street elimination video games.
They’re going to look to make that 5 with a win in Miami on Saturday.
“It’ll take every thing,” Brown mentioned. “It’ll be a dogfight. I think about these guys will play higher than they performed tonight, and they will come out aggressive.
“We have to be able to take their punch at dwelling. We have to be able to be resilient and are available out and do what we’re presupposed to do.”