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How the Celtics reacted to grab Game 6 after collapsing in Game 5


“We weren’t defeated knowing we still had an opportunity to salvage our season.”

Jaylen Brown celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer in Game 6. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Marcus Smart didn’t sleep at all between Game 5 and Game 6. He felt like he let his team down, and it didn’t go well.

“These last few minutes ate me alive,” Smart said. “…I was in real pain after that.”

Rather than dwell on their lackluster performance, Smart and the Celtics used it as motivation and exacted revenge in Game 6. Their lead was all but gone once again, but this time they showed strength. formidable determination and secured a convincing 108-95 road. win Friday night.

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said there was ‘never a doubt or a hangover’ from Game 5, and he loved how they responded to their biggest challenge ever. this day.

“We let the opportunity pass, but we still had a chance to make it a better story,” Udoka said.

The Celtics led by no less than 18 on Friday, but the Bucks reacted to cut it to four early in the fourth quarter behind the brilliance of Giannis Antetokounmpo and contributions from Pat Connaughton and Jrue Holiday.

That’s when Jayson Tatum — who had 46 points on 17 of 32 shooting — took his game to the next level. Tatum hit a series of hard backs and jumpers, but he also took the ball aggressively to the edge and finished in traffic. He beat the Bucks himself, 15-14, in the final eight and a half minutes.

In Game 5, the Celtics were passive and seemed to be thinking on the clock. In Game 6, they continued to attack. The Celtics didn’t turn the ball over once in the fourth quarter and were the most balanced and unified team.

Tatum said the Celtics “were not defeated” after Game 5, but they knew it would make or break their season. He admitted the result was on his mind at the end of Game 6.

“How it hurt to lose a game like that,” Tatum said. “Everyone had a bad taste in their mouths… We were optimistic. We were not defeated, knowing that we still had an opportunity to salvage our season.

Smart said the Celtics just had to “not be robots,” and he thinks they were as evenly balanced as they’ve ever been. Once they had the right approach, they knew everything else would fall into place.

They were able to force a Game 7, back at TD Garden, Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

“We were as close and as tough as I knew it was,” Tatum said. “…I’ll take us anytime.


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