Celtics Come Together, Refocus After Game 2 Loss
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics could have let their pride fall apart Friday night after suffering a 130-86 Game 2 loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead, despite being down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals with their backs nearly against the walls, the C’s came together as one.
When Boston’s players entered their locker room after the final buzzer they were embarrassed and dismayed, but in no way did they feel the urge to hang their heads and bow out.
That’s not the type of team Boston is. Following every difficult loss this season, the Celtics have regrouped and have moved on to their next opportunity.
Friday night was no different, no matter the severity of the outcome.
“Our guys in the locker room – as hard as it was, because it was tough; tonight was very hard – I saw a group of guys that were sticking together,” said Al Horford after the game. “We weren't fragmenting. Nobody is pointing fingers. We're staying together. We're owning up to this. We see what we need to do.”
What the Celtics need to do is rest up, clear their minds and look ahead to Sunday’s Game 3 in Cleveland. According to Brad Stevens, that is Boston’s only option at this point.
“I mean, what else do you do?” Stevens pondered late Friday night as he addressed the media from a podium. “That’s what I said when I went in the locker room after the game: ‘Each game is worth one.’ We have to play a lot better. So we're going to focus on us, we're going to figure out ways to play better, and we're going to go after it on Sunday. We're getting on that plane to play well.”
When the Celtics get off that plane, there is one mission at hand: Win at least one of the next two games in Cleveland. If they don’t accomplish that, there will be no Game 5 to fly home to.
Boston was in a similar situation during Round 1 when it dropped its first two games to the Bulls at home. The C’s retaliated by capturing the next two contests in Chicago, before wrapping up the series in six games and moving on to its second-round series with Washington.
Beating the Cavs on the road will be a whole different ball game, but Avery Bradley is ready to take on the challenge.
“We’ll find out what kind of team we are seeing how we respond,” said Boston’s veteran guard. “I’m excited about Game 3. I know I’m going to bring it. I’ve been going to war with these guys all year, so I know everybody else is going to have their A-game as well. No matter what the outcome is, everyone else is going to come out and play as hard as they can.”
The Celtics know that if they play hard, just like they did throughout the regular season and the first two rounds of the Playoffs, then they will perform much better than they did Friday night. Game 2 was truly an anomaly for Boston on both ends of the court. It shot at an unusually low rate (37.2 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from 3), while allowing Cleveland to shoot at an abnormally high rate (56.5 percent from the field and 48.7 percent from long range).
Horford said that he’s sure Boston’s shots will start to fall again Sunday, and he believes that the C’s will bring a much better effort on the defensive end, as well.
“We've worked really hard and put ourselves in this position to be here in the Conference Finals,” said Horford. “It's definitely a low point for our group, but the thing that encourages me is that our guys, we're all staying together. We're going to fight through it.”