1. Win one to play another one.
That’s what he focuses on Boston Celtics.
We’ve said it before: Boston can’t win four games in a row in one night. They have to do it game by game. In Games 4 and 5, the Celtics stayed focused and handled defeat Miami heat with relative ease.
It was a real team effort. Four different Celtics had 21 or more points. Al Horford climbed the boards and recorded 11 rebounds. Rob Williams and Grant Williams contributed good minutes off the bench. The team’s defense grabbed 13 interceptions, led by five steals from Marcus Smart.
It wasn’t a perfect match as Miami was still shooting pretty well. But after halfway through the first quarter, the Heat were never really in the game. Boston never lags behind and took the lead for good with 8:43 to play in the opening period.
Here’s how the Celtics kept the season alive.
2. Occasionally there is a play at the beginning of the game that sets the tone for everything to come. In Game 5, Marcus Smart set the tone with his first possession:
This play told TD Garden that the Celtics were ready and would not play.
3. Maybe Jayson Tatum was energized by this run-out pattern, but he was attacking from the jump. When Tatum goes downhill early, it’s generally a good sign for him.
Heat is not connected here. Kevin Love just halfway through the hedge while Kyle Lowry crosses Al Horford’s screen. That’s all Tatum needed to get to the hoop (and that should be i-1 too!):
Boston spacing here is great. Besides, what the hell is Cody Zeller doing? He guesses he thinks Tatum is going to turn the screen away from Rob Williams, but Tatum explodes to the edge without a fight:
4. Jayson Tatum was Boston’s lead quarterback in Game 5. He had 11 assists and some were really beautiful.
This is one of the best passes Tatum has ever made. He sets up the defense perfectly, goes so wide and deep into the paint that he sucks up the entire Miami defense. From there, a great hook pass to Marcus Smart in the corner:
At the end of the first half, Tatum again did a good job of pulling the defense towards him. This time it opened Derrick White to a triple:
Smart has become really adept at swiping screens when working with Tatum in a reversed two-player game. The attacker tosses a coin at the guard in the middle of the line:
With the clock ticking in the third quarter, Tatum could have taken several different shots here. Instead, he stayed patient and buckled it to Rob Williams for an easy on the hoop:
5. The opening of the second quarter lasted three minutes as Jaylen Brown took control. It was Brown’s old staccato dribble to set up step back three:
A few plays later, Brown led the defender and took a hit to the hoop before falling into a layup:
Boston was outstanding in the second chance in this game. Not only create them, but also evaluate them. This third Brown pull-up followed a Marcus Smart offensive rebound:
6. Derrick White was on fire to start the game. In the first quarter, White hit 4 of 5 shots, including 3 for 3 from behind the bow.
When White threw this late clock bug, there was a feeling that something was brewing:
This is just simple, smart basketball. As Brown proceeds to his post series, White has moved to a break. This made it easier for Brown to get the passing angle, thanks to a nice find:
When the Boston Offensive is underway, they use flares and pinning screens to shoot guys on a regular basis. This was a nice flash screen by Jayson Tatum and just in time delivery from Rob Williams to White:
One of Joe Mazzulli’s adjustments was to allow Tatum and Brown to go free when doubled up. It’s late on the clock. Miami doesn’t want Tatum to take this photo. He accepts the double and White is there as relief. Since White feels it, this one-dribble pull-up sounds the buzzer:
7. We showed how Marcus Smart set the tone from the first play. Smart’s game never really faltered from that point on. It was closed for the rest of its 30 minutes as well.
The action clock is ticking here, but Smart isn’t panicking. He catches Max Strus leaning against the lock and stepping onto the layup paint:
Cleverness played a large part in keeping Boston apart. This game starts with Derrick White fighting Jimmy Butler on the brink. He ends up with a smart corner pass in the aisle and receives an extra pass from Al Horford:
With the Heat in the same zone they have, Boston needs to be willing to take shots with confidence. It’s a good quick pass from Jaylen Brown, and Smart lets him rip without hesitation:
After one of his five interceptions, Smart found his place on the wing and Jayson Tatum rewarded him with:
8. Al Horford played an almost perfect Al Horford match. He made it difficult for Bam Adebayo, controlled the glass and made some extra plays.
No Celtic is better at making an extra pass than Horford. Take a look at that gap here as well. When Jayson Tatum is doubled, Horford is elevated to the perfect outlet. Bam Adebayo needs to get close to him, so Horford gives Brown a triple:
The next game we highlight was also simple, but it was also very LOUD:
Sending Kyle Lowry is very similar to sending Marcus Smart: you have a better chance of removing a fire hydrant. But Horford goes to work here:
Here is another simple but good example of quick and effective decision making:
9. Rob Williams did three ROBs! art. The ones where you believe again that he is the difference between Boston winning a title or not.
Jimmy Butler largely destroyed Williams on switches in this series. Not this time:
When your giant wins an extra chance for you, you reward him with:
It wasn’t the last game basket in Boston, but it was the capper of the evening. And that sums up all the potential Rob Williams has to be an exceptional player:
A false shot in one dribble, push-up? let’s go!
10. Win one to play another one.
All the pressure is now on the Miami Heat.
Yes, it will still be a disappointing end to the season for the Boston Celtics if they lose this series, even with all the comebacks they’ve made. But Boston was expected to lose after falling 0-3. Now they are playing with household money.
Miami looks hurt and exhausted. They’ve been fighting since the preliminary tournament. Maybe Heat is out of steam. They need to shut it down in Game 6 or it could all boil over completely.
It’s important that the Celtics stay locked up. It’s obvious, but it’s one game at a time. In this one game, it is one possession at a time. Reconnect enough good ones and we’ll all be watching Game 7 in Boston on Monday night.