Off-day meeting ‘galvanized’ a Celtics side not ready to give up
“We want to make sure we stay together.”
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Jaylen Brown and the Celtics were well aware of the stakes involved Tuesday night in Miami.
Beyond a season-ending crushing loss, the Heat had the opportunity to usher Boston into a painful (and potentially transformative) offseason.
At various points in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics could have withered to the expected pushes planned by Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.
This could have been the last game for at least a few regulars on this Celtics roster.
But rather than accept an embarrassing four-game sweep against an eighth-seeded opponent, Boston kept its season alive with a 116-99 win at Kaseya Center.
It was a collective effort, with Jayson Tatum’s second-half takeover performance complemented by bench weapons like Grant Williams and a team-wide buy-in on the defensive end.
The Celtics’ play on the field Tuesday night extended their season by at least a few more days.
But even before the ball was knocked down in Miami, Brown acknowledged that Boston’s confidence wasn’t waning despite being down three games in this best-of-seven series.
“We didn’t want to go out like this,” Brown said. “So we galvanized last night and we all wanted to go out and win. And being able to go out and run and do that is great.
The odds still don’t exactly favor the Celtics, even after Tuesday’s lopsided win.
This 2022-23 Celtics team is the 150th NBA team to fall into a 0-3 deficit in a playoff series. The top 149 teams all lost their respective series.
Beyond the math, falling into such a hole can often shred the chemistry and cohesion that remains in a locker room.
According to Brown, the opposite happened in Monday’s team meeting.
“When you get to that point at 3-0, you see the locker room and the teams start going the other way,” Brown said. “We want to make sure we stay together. We wanted to make sure that we look each other in the eye and come out today and do our best – and I’m proud of our group for doing that because you see teams with their backs to the wall and you see that ‘They just collapsed.’
Although Brown didn’t offer concrete details on how the Celtics “galvanized” on Monday, NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg reported that Boston went to Topgolf after their movie session.
Maybe the Celtics just needed to drive a few balls to vent their frustrations after the Game 3 blowout. Or maybe Brown and Co. needed a way to channel their anger amid multiple reports. criticism hovering over the team.
After Sunday’s loss, ESPN reported that the Boston roster “never recovered” from the firing of former head coach Ime Udoka. Just before game 4, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer said“A source told me last week that this Celtics team feels like a group that is tired of pretending to like each other.”
“Obviously we underperformed the last three games, and you start hearing all these stories about X, Y and Z,” Brown said. “Who knows where this actually came from – 99% of them aren’t true at all.”
On Tuesday, the Celtics echoes the same mantra of tunnel vision repeated by 2004 Red Sox players.
“Don’t let us have one,” Brown said of Tuesday morning’s shooting.
It’s a measured and realistic approach for a team looking at seemingly insurmountable odds.
But no matter what happens in Thursday’s rematch in Boston, the Celtics will indeed see this season as one unit.
“We wanted to stick together,” Brown said of Boston’s mood in Game 4. We didn’t want to go out and lay an egg.
“We wanted to come out and play together, we wanted to come out and trust each other, come out and play defense, be proud of you and find a way to win a game. We are all more than capable of doing this.
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