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Celtics stay alive again with pivotal Game 6 in Miami on tap

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BOSTON — Earlier than Recreation 5 of the Jap Convention finals, Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was requested about his workforce’s mindset coming into a second straight elimination recreation.

“Simply win or die,” he stated.

After a dominant efficiency Thursday evening, the Celtics are nonetheless alive.

Boston took management from the beginning and by no means regarded again, taking pictures over 50% from the sphere, forcing the Miami Warmth into 16 turnovers that grew to become 27 factors and having 4 gamers end with no less than 20 factors in a wire-to-wire, 110-99 victory in entrance of a raucous crowd at sold-out TD Backyard.

“Our again has been in opposition to the wall,” stated Jaylen Brown, who completed with 21 factors. “Clearly, we did not think about being on this place, being down 3-0, however when adversity hits, you get to see what a workforce is basically product of.

“It could not worsen than being down 3-0, however we did not go searching, we did not go in separate instructions. We stayed collectively.”

The Celtics moved a step nearer to turning into the primary workforce in NBA historical past to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven sequence. The truth is, throughout the 151 occasions a sequence has been at 3-0, the Celtics are solely the twenty second workforce to fall behind 3-0 with a better regular-season profitable share than their opponent. The prior two that did so: the Washington Capitols in opposition to the Chicago Stags in 1947, and the Orlando Magic in opposition to the Celtics in 2010.

Now, the Celtics will attempt to do one thing these groups could not: win in Miami on Saturday evening and convey this sequence again right here for a Recreation 7 on Memorial Day.

“For some odd motive, even final 12 months, we all the time appeared to make it somewhat bit harder on ourselves,” stated Jayson Tatum, who had 21 factors and dished out double-digit assists (11) for the primary time this postseason. “However what I do know is you could see the true character of an individual, of a workforce, when issues aren’t going effectively, and our potential to come back collectively, determine issues out when it is not essentially trying good for us. It is in contrast to any workforce I have been on this 12 months and final 12 months, simply the core group of men with the ability to reply.

“I feel that is only a testomony to our togetherness, clearly how dangerous we wish it, and we have a room filled with decided, powerful guys that push involves shove, you look to the left and the suitable of you, consider that the man subsequent to you goes to do no matter it takes and go down preventing if it do not work out.”

In Video games 4 and 5, Boston has resembled the workforce that performed so effectively the primary seven-plus months of the season.

After taking pictures 29% from 3-point vary in Video games 1-3, the Celtics have hit no less than 40% within the final two, together with a 16-for-39 exhibiting (41%) Thursday evening. Boston is now 38-2 this season when it hits no less than 40% of its 3-pointers; it is 29-31 when it does not.

Turnovers additionally had been key once more. The Celtics compelled 16 Warmth turnovers in Recreation 4, turning them into 27 factors. In Recreation 5, they compelled … 16 Warmth turnovers that grew to become 27 factors.

And their scoring was balanced. For the primary time all season (common season or playoffs), the Celtics had 4 gamers end with no less than 20 factors — Derrick White (24), Marcus Good (23), Tatum and Brown.

“I feel we simply persistently acquired attractiveness immediately,” White stated. “[We were] capable of get out and run, make that further cross, and while you get seems like that with the shooters we’ve got, we’ll make them greater than miss.

“Simply proceed to make that further cross and discover the suitable man.”

Boston has been on a curler coaster of feelings for a number of weeks; it is both gained or misplaced consecutive occasions over its final 11 video games, relationship to Recreation 2 of the Jap Convention semifinals in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers on Might 3.

The Celtics additionally continued on a doubtlessly history-making path. Solely three groups have compelled a Recreation 7 after being down 3-0: the New York Knicks in opposition to the Rochester Royals in 1991, the Denver Nuggets in opposition to the Utah Jazz in 1994 and the Portland Path Blazers in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks in 2003.

Boston is now 48 minutes away from turning into the fourth.

And whereas the Celtics have struggled mightily on the Backyard the previous two years within the playoffs (11-11), they have been a very completely different workforce away from house. Together with their Recreation 4 victory, the Celtics are 13-7 on the highway because the begin of the 2022 playoffs, and have gained 4 consecutive highway elimination video games.

They’re going to look to make that 5 with a win in Miami on Saturday.

“It should take every thing,” Brown stated. “It should be a dogfight. I think about these guys will play higher than they performed tonight, and they will come out aggressive.

“We have to be able to take their punch at house. We have to be able to be resilient and are available out and do what we’re speculated to do.”

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