BOSTON (CBS) — After a rough few days in Cleveland, the Celtics are eager to try to regain control of the Eastern Conference finals now that the series is heading back to Boston.
The Celtics’ postseason road woes continued in Ohio, dropping both games in the house that LeBron James built over the last three days. While Saturday night’s Game 3 loss was in blowout fashion, the C’s put up a fight in Monday night’s Game 4 and clawed back from multiple double-digit deficits. But they could never get over the hump and now head home with the series tied at 2-2.
That’s a dangerous dance when you’re taking on a team led by James, who is averaging 32 points per game this series. But the Celtics remain a confident bunch heading into Wednesday’s Game 5 in Boston, and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had a simple message for his team after Monday night’s defeat.
“It’s the best two out of three to go to the NBA Finals. Doesn’t get better than that,” said Stevens. “Ultimately, anybody that didn’t think this was going to be tough — I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it’s a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again. That’s part of it. That’s part of what makes these guys on both sides special.”
It’s hard to blame the Celtics for feeling good about themselves inside the TD Garden, where they’re 9-0 this postseason. That unblemished record, including a pair of convincing wins over the Cavs to start the conference finals, has given the young and undermanned C’s a lot of swagger whenever they play in front of their home crowd.
“Back to the crib,” said guard Marcus Smart. “We play well at the crib and we know it. We just have to come play.”
“What more can you ask for,” guard Jaylen Brown said the best-of-three situation. “Go out, guard home court at TD garden in front of the best fans in the world.”
The Celtics still hold home-court advantage for the series, but that’s something that will remain in their back pocket leading up to Wednesday night. At the moment, they have just one thing on their mind.
“All season, but specifically all playoffs, we’ve been taking it game to game. We can’t look at it that way [of trying to win two of three]. Right now, we’re fighting for our playoff lives,” said veteran forward Al Horford. “Our focus as a group is Wednesday, Game 5, at home.”