This was a very interesting NBA elimination game in Miami. For those of us who are sports addicts this gives us a series going to a Game 5 in either the NBA Playoffs and/or Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The best team on paper in these NBA Playoffs minus perhaps the first round eliminated Milwaukee Bucks– these Boston Celtics found their inner collective competitive souls and won Game 5 going away after trailing by nine points in the third period.
Boston clearly has more talent on paper than the Miami Heat, yet this was the first time in this series we witnessed a sense of urgency from the first or second best team on paper left in these playoffs. I think most passionate NBA fans who follow all 82 games probably had it like this going into post season….1 Milwaukee, 2 Boston, and 3 Denver. Maybe some had Denver at No. 2, but there were serious Denver Nugget doubters from coast to coast before the NBA Playoffs got started.
I mean, these Celtics had the Warriors down 2-0 in last year’s finals and added Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogden to their mix. There was a coaching change just prior to the season with the uncomfortable departure of Ime Udoka, but for the most part the Celtics did enough with 34 year-old Joe Mazzulla to go 57-25.
That’s .695 per cent winning basketball. Just out of curiosity I googled the winning percentage of all sixteen coaches in the history of the iconic Boston Celtics. Here’s what I discovered…. (1) in sixteen glorious seasons Red Auerbach had a winning percentage of .669, (2) in four seasons as player/coach Bill Russell’s winning percentage was .661, (3) Brad Stevens in seven seasons went .557, and (4) just last season Ime Udoka went 51-31 to win at a .622 clip.
And let’s keep this in mind… just the round before in these very same NBA Playoffs the Celtics found themselves in a 3-2 hole going to Philadelphia to play Joel Embiid and the Sixers. Of course…the Sixers choked and subsequently fired the vastly overrated Doc Rivers.
So here we are one Boston Celtic win away in a Game 5 at home from possibly having the very same scenario in place for a Game 6 back in Miami. We as passionate NBA fans know coming back from a 3-0 deficit has never been done before. But at least this gives us as fans the hope we’ve got at least one series in the NBA and NHL conference finals with some competitive drama.
Can Boston possibly pull off the reverse of a four game sweep against the Heat since we know Doc Rivers isn’t the head coach of the Miami Heat?
We’ll see on Thursday night in Boston where the Celtics have struggled this post season to date.
So what did the Celtics do better in Game 4? They shot the three ball better making 19 threes opposed to Miami making but 8 threes of their own. That’s net +33 or 57-24 depending on how how you want to look at it. Keep this in mind…. in the horrific Game 3 loss—the Celtics actually outrebounded the Heat by 22 boards.
So…in essence like most basketball teams, these Celtics play better defense when their three balls are falling. It’s an energy thing that’s very contagious throughout the team. Like a hockey team which plays harder when their goalie is standing on his head in net. You play harder when there’s that belief. That belief has to be there that Jayson Tatum is going to lead the team scoring the basketball.
This is not nuclear fusion. Play hard, make shots, and maybe the coach makes a couple of nuanced changes. I thought Coach Mazzulla was smart in using Grant Williams and Derek White in more prominent roles in Game 4. Plus, I wouldn’t be averse to Robert Williams taking more of Big Al Horford’s minutes because of the defensive physicality aspect of his game.
But in the end it’s about making shots and scoring points. And that/’s what the Celtics finally did in this Game 4 survival win in Miami.
I can’t wait to see how Jimmy Butler and Bam react in Game 5. Watching this Game 5 will certainly be more entertaining than watching the braindead Dallas Stars try to avoid being swept by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Yeah, sure, you want your captain to be physical, but this play was so stupid it defies explanation. Smart physicality…yes. Overt stupidity, no. And smart physicality is what Grant Williams, Robert Williams, and Marcus Smart need to bring to the arena along with Jayson Tatum’s scoring the rest of this series for the Boston Celtics to somehow pull off an inverted sweep.