Celtics Must Do What Heat Just Did
BOSTON – The Miami Heat put a difficult loss behind them this week and bounced back 48 hours later to salvage their season on the road.
Now it’s time for the Boston Celtics to do the same thing.
The Celtics had their first opportunity to move on to the NBA Finals spoiled Thursday night when the Heat recorded a dominant 98-79 victory in TD Garden. That victory was all the more impressive considering that Miami had just lost an emotional Game 5 at home Tuesday night in front of its home crowd, putting Boston on the doorstep of the Finals.
It’s not an easy task to move on from a loss like that, particularly when it puts you on the brink of elimination. Miami somehow figured out how to do it, and the process began immediately after Game 5 ended.
“It's a loss, and that's all it is,” said Erik Spoelstra shortly after Game 5 ended. “And that's what our focus is right now, is to fight any kind of noise from the outside or any human condition, and to collectively come together strong to prepare for the next game.
“It was a tough one to lose here at home, but it's over with. It has to be behind us right now. Our energies have to be ready for Thursday night”
Heed those words, Celtics, because you’re now in the same boat.
Boston is now on the brink of elimination, too, and it will head to Miami for a do-or-die Game 7 Saturday night.
For most teams, that would be a scary proposition. Winning on the road in Game 7 against the league’s MVP, in an arena in which the home team lost just five regular season games? No thanks. But let’s be serious, this Celtics team doesn’t fall into the same category as most teams. This team is different.
No one expected the Celtics to be here except for the Celtics themselves. They were written off all season long because they made things difficult on themselves. None of that adversity has been able to hold them down, though, and that’s why they are where they are today.
“This team has been about adversity all year long,” said captain Paul Pierce. “So this is not going to be nothing new. It's been tough for us all year long to get to the point where we would be at, and why wouldn’t it be tough now? Winning is hard. Trying to get to the Finals is hard. And this is as hard as it gets. And I think we are prepared for it.”
If Pierce’s words don’t fuel your body with confidence, try the rest of the Celtics on for size. When the players and coaches spoke to the media following Game 6, they didn’t only touch upon the fact that they need to move on from Thursday’s big loss. Instead, they dripped with confidence – borderline arrogance – when speaking about the situation they now find themselves in.
“We are right where we want to be,” said Pierce.
“They won one game. Now we have to go down and go to Miami and win a game. We’ve done it before,” added Rajon Rondo.
Kevin Garnett, who often is the last to speak in the locker room following games, stayed on the same path of his teammates. He has called some of his team’s victories this season “bar fights,” so he knows his comrades will come out swinging in Game 7.
“We’re gonna take these cards and play them,” said Garnett. “Lot of confident guys in here, lot of guys who’ve been through game 7s, lot of experienced guys. We’re gonna lean on that, and we’re gonna fight. A bunch of fighters in this locker room.”
The Celtics have been fighting all season long, and that’s what has put them on the verge of another berth to the NBA Finals. That fight will be displayed Saturday night in a similar manner to what the Heat showed during Game 6. The Celtics believe that fight will put them on a direct flight from Miami to Oklahoma City.
“They're not just going to pack for [Saturday],” Doc Rivers said of his players’ travel plans. “They're going to bring suits for Tuesday, and they're going to bring suits for Thursday.”
That sounds like a good plan to us.