On Thursday evening, at Boston Celtics will face Miami heat once again, and this is the second game in a row, their season will be in jeopardy. After dropping the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, any remaining game in this series could potentially send the Celtics on an early vacation.
As such, Boston needs every member of their rotation to be leveled up and counted – just like they did in Game 4. Still, each playoff game is a separate battle as both coaches make changes and players increase the intensity, which is nothing that can be taken for granted.
With Game 5 set to take place at the TD Garden in front of a hometown crowd, there is hope that the Celtics will play their A game against a Miami team missing one of their main ball dealers, Gabe Vincent. Still, anything can happen in a 48-minute contest, so with that in mind, here are three things to watch out for.
Who gets up from the bench?
After a tumultuous playoff period that saw Joel Embiid hit the curb, Grant Williams is finally getting a legitimate chance to make an impact. In Game Four, the incoming restricted free agent was one of the Celtics’ best players and helped keep the pressure on Miami, both from the perimeter and in attacking close quarters.
On the defensive, Williams’ versatility was an important cog in the way the Celtics sought to quell the Miami offensive that had left them in the throes of the previous three games. Now in Game 5 with the news that Malcolm Brogdon is playing with a partial tendon tear, all eyes will be on the Boston bench to see who advances.
In fact, the Celtics will need two out of three substitutes to rise to the occasion, which means we’re probably looking forward to another solid night from both Derrick White and Grant Williams. However, Joe Mazzulla hasn’t been afraid to mix things up in recent weeks, so who knows, maybe Sam Hauser comes in and things get hot from the depths. Who gets hot doesn’t matter; what matters is that the Celtics will need a legitimate boost from their bench.
You can’t lock up Jimmy Butler. The same way you’re not going to shut down Bam Adebayo. What you can do is stop them. In Game 4, the Celtics did exactly that – moving the action off the center of the floor and limiting Butler’s ability to build momentum on straight runs.
Including Butler and Adebayo in one game is certainly encouraging; doing it on different occasions is a completely different story. However, with the Celtics’ plethora of defensive talent and a game plan that clearly paid off in their most recent outing, there is hope that they will be able to replicate the backguard performance to hold off Butler and Adebayo.
Of course, if one or both of these stars decide to play out of wits, the game plan will change to excluding roleplayers – after all, two guys can’t score enough to beat you on their own, or at least would hope to.
Can Jayson Tatum do it again?
Game seven against Philadelphia 76ersJayson Tatum comes to life to lead his team back to the Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 4 against the Heat, Tatum finds another piece of equipment again. However, the Celtics need their main player to act at least until the end of the series, otherwise their way back to NBA finals looks incredibly difficult.
Despite all the talk about Tatum not being a “great player,” he builds a solid reputation as a closeman who plays his best basketball when his team’s future is in jeopardy. Against a Heat team missing two key players in the rotation, Tatum should be confident he can dig deep into his bag and create a high scoring night to force Game Six back in Miami.
Of course, if Jaylen Brown can also find a way to hurt Miami’s defense (who have handled him well throughout the series), the Celtics will be in first position to start putting pressure on Butler and Adebayo’s shoulders again. .
This is where we start to get into the weeds of the series. Both sides know each other and both coaches started showing their hands. Now more than ever, it’s about how much the Celtics want it and how well they do under pressure. Because, make no mistake, the TD Garden will be loud, the fans will be passionate, and there is no way the Celtics will want their season to end in front of their home crowd for the second year in a row.
Jaylen Brown said that the Celtics wanted to return to Miami after that game, so let’s hope the Celtics put their money where they stand and continue to fight for every ball they have in hopes of making history.