With Backs Against the Wall, C's Still Believe
WALTHAM, Mass. – Pull those “We Believe” signs out of your closets, Bostonians. It’s time for the city to do it again.
The Boston Celtics fell behind 0-3 in their series against the Knicks with a loss Friday night. If they want to advance to the next round, they will need to become the first team in NBA history to overcome such a deficit.
Ironically, the C’s are the only mainstream Boston sports team that hasn’t been involved in such a comeback (with the exception of the Patriots, whose postseasons don’t include series’).
The Red Sox did it against the Yankees in 2004 en route to their first World Series title in 86 years. That comeback began in Game 4, one contest after the Yankees drubbed the Sox in Game 3 by a score of 19-8. Everyone thought Boston was done – except for Boston.
The same can be said about the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, a team that completed the impossible task against the Boston Bruins. Boston went up 3-0 in the series when it crushed Philadelphia 4-1 during Game 3. However, momentum quickly built up for the Flyers in Game 4 when they won in overtime.
Two factors were present in both of those dramatic comebacks.
First, the trailing team was dominated in Game 3 and everyone believed that team to be dead. That’s certainly the case at the moment regarding these Celtics.
Boston probably isn’t excited about New York winning 90-76 Friday night at TD Garden, but that fact at least helps the Celtics fall in line with the Red Sox and Flyers’ comebacks. This series hasn’t been close and there isn’t a media member out there who is predicting a comeback by the Celtics. Judging by history, that could be a good thing.
The second factor that has been present in these comebacks is the trailing team's ability to maintain composure and use Game 4 as a momentum builder toward history. Count the Celtics in as a team that believes such will be the case for them.
“Once we have a game of playing the right way – a full game – I feel like that will motivate us to go out there with that confidence for the next game,” said Avery Bradley.
Doc Rivers doesn't want his guys to look ahead to the next game. He just wants them to concentrate on the task at hand, Game 4, and not the overriding challenge of winning four games in a row.
“You’ve got to focus on the single game,” said Rivers. “You can’t win four without winning one. It’s funny – all the clichés and all of that stuff... they all play into the truth in this: we have to have a single-game focus.”
From the sound of it, Rivers’ players are right in line with that mindset. The Celtics seem confident that they have the players to get the job done on Sunday and beyond.
“I mean, you look at the guys on this team, guys who have been through so much throughout their whole career,” said forward Jeff Green. “They’ve been down. We have guys who are confident in their game and believe that we have the chance. That’s all it takes.”
Jason Terry added, “I have no doubt in my mind that we have fight in us.”
The Celtics will need more than a chance and some fight to make NBA history. They’re going to need to improve drastically at both ends of the floor in order to beat New York on Sunday. They’ll also need to play as a team and use the first three games of this series as motivation heading into Sunday’s tip-off.
“You can be angry all you want, but how are you going to channel that anger?” asked Terry. “Are you going to fight amongst yourselves or are you going to come out fighting the opponent? That’s what we must do – we must channel that anger against these guys that are kicking your butt.”
If there was ever a time to channel that anger, it's right now. The Celtics are on the brink of elimination and they have an enormous challenge ahead of them. As daunting a challenge that may be, Boston knows full well that it is not insurmountable.
The Celtics are down, but they are not out.
They believe they can do it. Do you?