BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics will try to fight off elimination on Thursday night when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Cavaliers took the first two games of the series in Boston, embarrassing the Celtics with a 130-86 victory in Game 2, so the Celtics are eager to give their fans the game they deserve on Thursday night.
“We weren’t that good the last time we played here, and that’s a scar we feel. We want to play a lot better tonight,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand on Thursday.
The Celtics face a 3-1 deficit against the defending champion Cavaliers, but as Stevens pointed out, a 3-1 series hole isn’t as insurmountable as it once was.
“It was 3-1 for the Warriors playing Oklahoma City [last postseason], the Cavs playing the Warriors [in last year’s NBA Finals], the Cubs playing the Indians [in the World Series]. You just have to focus on what you can control and win that next possession,” said Stevens.
There’s been a narrative that the Celtics are just an annoyance at the moment, standing in the way of the Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals rematch that the world wants. Stevens said that notion is providing more fuel to a Celtics team ready for a battle on Thursday night.
“You do feel some of that, no question about it. When I’m around our guys, it’s more about what we need to do tactically and possession-to-possession, but they have radios and the internet, Twitter, all those things. They know what is being said. We also understand we’re playing a heck of a team and we have to have not only the mentality with a chip on our shoulder, but we have to play really well,” said Stevens. “We have to be focused through all of that. Certainly we’ve had discussions about the a reason we’re here, and the chip on your shoulder mentality is a big reason why.”
The coach added that the chip on their shoulder throughout the season is a big reason why the Celtics are where they are.
Stevens also touched on Isaiah Thomas’ injury and his team overcoming the loss of their leading scorer. Listen to the full interview below, and tune in to Celtics-Cavaliers Game 5 on 98.5 The Sports Hub starting at 8pm!